My Husband Abandoned Me Emotionally: My Husband Has Left Me Emotionally

"He's not here for me," complained Hailey. "We don't spend enough time together."

"She's too needy. I need space," complained her husband, Ryan.

"He just does whatever he wants to do, with no concern for me," countered Hailey.

"She's so demanding that I just don't feel like being with her lot. I wish she'd just back off. I need time with my friends."

In my counseling practice, I often see married couples where one spouse is emotionally dependent and the other is emotionally distant. Interestingly, both aspects of this system come from fear. Neediness - emotional dependency - comes from a deep fear of rejection, stemming from inner abandonment. Hailey gives responsibility to Ryan for her feelings. She doesn't have enough of an inner adult self to take care of her own feelings and needs, so she makes Ryan responsible for them.

Emotional distance also comes from fear - of engulfment. Not having a strong inner adult self to speak up against being controlled and smothered by Hailey, Ryan resists and distances as a way to feel safe.

In this codependent marriage system, each person is triggering the fears of the other. Hailey's anger and complaints trigger Ryan's fear of engulfment, while his distancing triggers Hailey's fear of abandonment. Then they respond to each other with the very behavior that continues to trigger the fear. They are caught in a vicious circle, each blaming the other for the problems. Hailey really believes that if only Ryan would spend more time with her, everything would be okay, while Ryan really believes that if only Hailey would back off and stop pulling on him for time and attention, everything would be okay. Neither is accurate.

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Ryan cannot make Hailey feel loved and safe as long as she is abandoning herself. Until Hailey starts to notice the thoughts that create her feelings of abandonment and develops her loving inner adult self who can take emotional responsibility for her own feelings, Hailey will be a bottomless pit. No matter how much time and attention Ryan gives her, it will never be enough because the inner abandonment will continue to make her feel alone.

On the other hand, even if Hailey does back off from pulling on Ryan for time and attention, it is likely he will continue to be emotionally distant. Hailey is not causing his fear of engulfment - it is being caused by not having a strong inner loving adult self to speak his truth and take care of him in the face of engulfment. As long as he does not know how to lovingly take care of himself in the face of Hailey wanting something from him, he will continue to emotionally distance. Even if Hailey is not making him responsible for her feelings, her just wanting anything with him or from him can trigger his fear of engulfment and resulting resistance.

Hailey and Ryan's marriage problems will not be solved just with agreements to spend time together, or agreements regarding when Ryan can spend time with his friends. Agreements often don't last because they may be covering over the real issues of control and resistance - coming from fears of abandonment and fears of engulfment. Agreements are often another form of control. Hailey and Ryan's codependent system can heal when both people commit to developing their loving adult self.

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If both Ryan and Hailey practice taking responsibility for their own feelings instead of controlling or resisting each other, they will eventually develop their loving inner adult selves and become capable of:

Not taking rejection, resistance and emotional distance personally.

Filling themselves with love so that they are not needy for the other's time and attention.

Speaking the truth about not wanting responsibility for the other's feelings, without resisting, attacking or distancing.

Taking loving care of themselves without anger or distance.

Taking loving action in their own behalf to ensure against engulfment.

Sharing love instead of trying to get love or avoid pain.

If you find yourself often complaining that your husband or wife does not spend enough time with you, you might want to look at how you might not be taking emotional responsibility for your own feelings. If you find yourself complaining that you never get time alone or with friends, you might want to look at how you are not speaking up for yourself, not taking responsibility for your own needs. Rather than blaming your spouse, over whom you have no control, try opening to learning about what loving actions you need to take in your own behalf.

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Understanding men and why we choose to be with you drives a lot of women up the wall. When women ask us, "do you love me?" or "what's so special about me that you can't find in other women?" it annoys us. We don't want to hurt you, but the truth is, we can't answer that.

If we answer that, then you become far too conscious of yourself doing whatever it is that we like about you. You become contrived and what you do feels unnatural to you, since you're more aware of it after we mention it.

There's a lot to say about being yourself, but I'll try and say the main points in Tip #10. Being yourself, being comfortable in your own skin is one of the foundations of confidence. If you can't be yourself, you don't respect yourself. Plus, that means you'll always put on this fake persona whenever you're talking to the man you're interested in.

Do you have one of those friends who you secretly wonder, "how the heck does she guys chasing after her?" Yeah, she doesn't look all that attractive, but she still manages to go through men like they're some sort of fashion trend.

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She accepts herself for what she is. I mean sure, everyone wants what they can't have, but the fact that she's loves herself the way that she is, means that she shows off her best traits to men around her, which means that they notice them.

Here's an example. Say you're a big girl. If you're desperately trying to be one of those sad cases who throw up their lunch to try and lose weight, you're going to give off a miserable vibe. Whereas, if you love your curves, men who love curves are going to chase after you, since you use them to your advantage.

There isn't only one type of beauty. I firmly believe that all women are beautiful and as long as you define what's beautiful about you, you will be able to find men who are into your sort of beauty. Men are only going to love you as much as you love yourself.

As you go through life getting better and understanding men, I hope that you realize that if you feel that your man is growing distant from you, it could be because that you're losing touch with yourself. We love you, just the way you are. We don't marry you for who you hope to be or used to be.

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I am frequently asked "what in the world are boundaries?" This comes from people who have heard that it is important to have boundaries but they have no real understanding as to what that means.

Here is how I like to think about boundaries. Boundaries are the imaginary lines we have drawn around ourselves. They are our way of protecting ourselves and reflect what we feel we deserve in life. Boundaries are always in relation to someone else. It is what we have concluded is emotionally a safe way for us to live.

Let me give you some examples. If you were emotionally put down when growing up you may think that is what you deserve. You may as an adult end up with partners or friends who also put you down because you still deep down think "that is what I deserve." Once you realize that this is not what you deserve and start building a strong personal foundation you will begin to grow your boundaries. In this case you will need to create boundaries that reflect that you value yourself and learn to set boundaries which others may not cross.

In contrast you may have boundaries that are too tight. You may have learned that the world is not a save place and you may have developed rigid boundaries which limit your experiences of life.

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Just the other day I saw the movie Precious. This movie shows how her boundaries were not respected by her parents. The result was that Precious felt that she deserved to be treated like that. It wasn't until she had a positive experience in an alternative school that she began to build strong boundaries for herself. Having built boundaries made it possible for her to walk away from her mother and take responsibility for her own future.

What we all want is to have our imaginary lines be such that we enjoy the freedom to bring forth who we are and have the wisdom to set limits when people try to cross our boundaries.

In order to feel in charge of our lives we have to have boundaries. Our boundaries have to reflect who we are. If we have boundaries that were too loose or too tight and our image of who we are changes we have to adjust our boundaries. We all have the capacity to unlearn what holds us back and to develop boundaries that reflect our strong personal foundation.

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Basic Learning Principles Help Marriage Counseling Practices!
An effective Psychologist, Life coach and Marriage Counseling practitioner (which means: help to bring a change), should always remember the first year in college, where the basic psychological principles were presented. Not all wheels could and should re-invent themselves. What do I do and why as a Marriage Counseling professional has a sound foundation, once basic Principles of Learning are applied.

Stage One: How It All Began:

Most human emotion and sex related interactions start due to an environmental condition that elicits a reflex response. A reflex is a simple unlearned response to a stimulus. In psychological textbook terms: once upon a time, when the two first met, there were:

(1) an unconditioned stimulus-a stimulus that elicits a response without any prior learning, and

(2) an unconditioned response-an unlearned reflexive reaction to that unconditioned stimulus. Using Psych 101 terms: everything started with a Classical Conditioning event: a neutral stimulus (i.e.: smell) that elicited an unlearned natural response (i.e.: attention and erotic sensation) was paired with a new stimulus (i.e.: her or his real face). As a result, the new face came to elicit a new response (i.e.: attraction, dating, sexual fantasies) that is identical or very similar to the natural reflex.

The best Marriage Counseling mission therefore is to lead the couple back into such a stage.

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Stage Two: The Building Blocks:

Positive reinforcement is any of your behavior that leads to an increase of your partner's behaviors. Marriage Counseling therefore has a lot to do with inventory check: what are the actions of each of you that lead to an increase of your partner's behaviors that are desirable by you? Are they positive (i.e.: you ask something and your spouse razes some difficulty about it; you smile and ask again, so eventually your spouse accepts it) or problematic (i.e.: you ask something and get your spouse' reservations; you then use loud and abusive tone so your spouse agrees with you, hoping to calm you down)?

Using Psych 101 terms: Marriage Counseling has a lot to do with Operant Conditioning:

learning from the consequences of our behavior. Many times the counseling meeting takes a form of a study session, as the counselor teaches the concept of Timing: reinforcements should be given within a short amount of time following the desired response. The greater the delay between the response and the reinforcement, the slower the learning of your partner would be.

Another basic concept within any Marriage Counseling process that involves sexual difficulties is Shaping: the method of successive approximations. Behaviors that are successively more similar to the desired behavior are reinforced.

Stage three: Targeting The Marriage Counseling Long Term Goals:

Classical conditioning usually involves reflexive, involuntary behavior that is controlled by the spinal cord or autonomic nervous system. This is how the Chemistry of Love is constructed. The more therefore you blend your life with erotic features that fit your spouse's taste, the more you increase your chance to get to the promised land of continuous mutual attraction.

Operant conditioning usually involves more complex, voluntary behaviors that are mediated by our cognitive system. The more you identify appropriate reinforcements and link them to your spouse's behaviors which you like, the more you increase the likelihood of achieving a pleasurable marriage life for yourself.

Now Listen Carefully-

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Divorce does not have to be your only option. Even if it feels as though your relationship can't be saved because of the ongoing conflicts between you and your spouse, it can be. There are techniques that you can begin using today that will not only stop a divorce, but will help also you build a stronger and more loving marriage.

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