It's common for wives to feel that their husband is not as emotionally connected as they are. This can be true whether you are currently separated or not. (A separation does add another complication to the mix, but most wives have wondered if their husband is as emotionally invested as he should be.)

You may hear a comment like, "yes, my husband and I are separated. So I know that I should expect some distance between us. However, his emotional distance was a problem long before we separated. My husband never notices when I need support. It's as if I am talking to the wall. If my husband has a bad day or brings up a problem in my presence, I will immediately stop what I am doing, sit him down, and listen to him. I then help to the best of my ability. I love him, and his pain is my pain. However, when the roles are reversed, I do not get the same courtesy. Although we are separated, I've mentioned my sister's illness and the downsizing that is happening at my job. My husband knows that both of these things are worst-case scenarios for me. However, do you think he takes the hint and offers any sympathy or even sustained listening? Not really. He acts as if I am just trying to fling my own problems onto him. There is no empathy. There is no 'I'm here for you.' This makes me think he doesn't care about me at all. However, when I accuse him of this, he denies it. He says that he's trying, but he's not a 'touchy-feely' type of person. Is this a legitimate excuse? Do I have to let my separated husband off the hook emotionally? Should my husband support me emotionally? Even if we are separated?"

It would certainly be nice. Emotional support is understandably quite important to most wives. When you know that your husband has your back, you aren't facing your worst issues all alone, which is a valuable part of human connection. And marriage is the highest form of human connection.

However, from my own experience, I suspect that you may have to work at getting what you want. That is the bad news. But the good news is that if you can train your husband to offer more of what you need, then you will be much more satisfied and your efforts will be worth it.

Why Men Aren't As Emotionally Supportive As Women Might Like: The wife above mentioned that emotional distance had always been a problem for her husband. Although this issue can be problematic and extremely frustrating, it is not unusual. Some cultures do not support men in displaying emotions or vulnerability. Therefore, it can be difficult for men to come out of their shell and show us those behaviors. Or to demonstrate them on our behalf.

This is why it is much more intuitive for your best girlfriend to be an empathic sounding board than your husband. Our husbands can try, but their efforts may be awkward, ineffective, or just sloppy.

Have you ever noticed that women are much more likely to notice when a spouse is distressed? In fact, most of us are always on high alert for this. We also typically value emotional support more than men do. Some husbands have a "chin up" or "go it alone" attitude which feels wrong to us because we are more comfortable with our emotions.

Because of these differences, husbands can be less likely to tune into our emotional distress. This can make them seem insensitive or uncaring. But sometimes, we don't realize that they either don't understand the extent of our distress or they attempt to show emotional support in nonemotional ways.

Unfortunately, just because our husbands aren't always great at emotional support, that doesn't mean we don't want or need it. We do. Below are some tips on how to get more of it. In the meantime, get support from friends, a therapist or family. But don't just go it alone.

Look For Your Husband's Support In Unconventional Places: My husband and I were separated for a while. (You can read that story here.) However, once we reconciled, we had some honest, heart-to-heart talks about emotional support. I felt my husband was sorely lacking in this category and he felt that, in his own clumsy way, he'd offered sincere support. During our talks, he reminded me of how he always took my car to get the oil changed, changed the tires, took out the garbage, and cared for our home - even while we were separated. He also maintained my parents' home. In his eyes, this is how he took care of me, even during difficult times.

However, although I appreciated the oil changes, that isn't what I was looking for at the time. So I didn't notice this type of emotional support. Plus, he never verbally said anything about wanting to take care of me. When I brought this up, his response was that his caring was common sense and implied.

I tell you this to stress that sometimes, you have to look at your husband's caring intentions even when his words do not seem very emotionally intuitive. He may be saying what you want to hear in a different way than you are expecting.

Sometimes You Have To Spell It Out: It may seem very obvious that when you are lamenting a family member's health or job difficulties, it is clear that you are seeking emotional support. However, remember that men are not used to or comfortable with this type of support. So they are much more likely to miss these cues.

When he doesn't pick up on it, you might have to literally say, "I am looking for you to listen and to support me."

Understanding Different Types Of Support: Another place where wires get crossed is HOW husbands offer support. Many men want to fix the problem for us. For example, let's say you told your husband that you needed his support concerning your sister. He might interpret this to mean that you'd like him to attend appointments or do medical research. Men are more likely to think that you want them to take physical action. In reality, you probably only want to feel heard and perhaps get a supportive hug. Sometimes, you will have to spell this out also.

I know that all of this spelling out can be frustrating. He's your husband and he should know what you need. But men and women respond to emotional needs very differently. In order to get what you want, you have to understand those differences and work around them.  I know that this topic is hard enough without a separation to make things worse.  But there are ways to work with a separation.  I eventually got my marriage back.  You can read that whole story here.

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