Being Married to a Man Who Is Emotionally/Spiritually Shut Down


From a sister in Christ who has walked this road and was willing to answer some of my questions about being married to a man who is very to himself and quiet…



This comes from being with my husband for 11 years (8 years of marriage), being his 4th wife, having 11 children between the two of us, 6 at home, 2 separations, and the last one almost ending in divorce (had a court date set). God still works miracles and although my husband did many things wrong, once i opened my heart to God he showed me how incredibly sinful i was being as a wife. Let me say that this email comes after being reconciled over a year and on June 21, 2013, we celebrated one year sobriety for him.


First I want to say it is important as a wife to understand the REASONS her husband may be (non-communicative). In our case my husband finally opened up to me that he had been abused as a child an NEVER told anyone. This opened so many doors for healing for the both of us. He saw that I was still going to accept and love him and he could trust me and I understood that it wasnt anything that I had done for him to shut down and not even want to be intimate with me physically, but together we can overcome this.

To answer the questions….

1. How has God shown you how best to bless your husband?

God revealed to me that just because he needs to be alone and silent does not mean he doesn’t love me or is having an affair. Sometimes he loves to have me present in the room with him even if he doesnt feel like talking.. He just likes to know I am there. Other times he would prefer to go for a ride alone or stay home while me and the kids go somewhere and through Christ, I have realized that’s ok.

2. How do you handle your needs for emotional/spiritual connection in a godly way?

For any woman struggling with feeling alone, I highly recommend reading the book “Captivating.” It literally had me in tears and God spoke to me through it. There was part in particular talking about how God loves to give us “gifts.”  As I thought about it, I recalled times where I had seen things in nature that God knew I loved and He had shown me how much He loved me by giving me the “gift” of witnessing it. When I feel neglected or lonely, I turn to God.

3. How do you make it safe for your husband to share his feelings with you?

Oh my!!! I used to be so bad at this!!

I would ask my husband for advice on decisions with the kids, house, finances, etc and if I didn’t like what he said, I would voice that very strongly and do what I wanted to do anyway... talk about a shut down on his part!!

This took almost a year to regain his trust and it is still a work in progress.

I have had to SHOW him that I will respect his wishes over and over in order to get to where he is able to openly talk to me.  I can honestly say I think he feels I am a safe place now.  I try to listen to him an then offer my advice or opinion in a loving manner.  Even if  I disagree or am trying to point out something he has made a mistake on (and I do that rarely and usually only if pertinent) I do so in a loving manner instead of lashing out at him and belittling him.

(From Peacefulwife- some husbands feel disrespected if a wife offers any unsolicited advice.  Many men want to handle their problems on their own.  Some are only open to our advice if they ask us for our advice.  You’ll need to study your own husband to know what will work best for him. )

I am his other half and his partner, NOT his boss.

4. How does your husband show his love to you?

This is very difficult for him and for me to accept. My husband is not romantic.  He forgets things.  He’s not big on gifts or planning dates.

This had to be an acceptance on my part.

I know he loves me because

  • he listens to me
  • he values my opinions
  • he turns to me when he needs help
  • he comes home every night
  • he has given up alcohol

He doesn’t leave me little notes or presents and he doesn’t often surprise me or give me unexpected kisses.  I found  that I compared him to men that did those things and that was a trap from Satan.  

I have learned to read his facial expressions and nonverbal language and that’s enough for me .

 5. When did you learn to accept the ways your husband shows you love instead of expecting him to show it verbally?

I began a journey over a year ago to become a better wife. The first part of that journey only pushed him further away because it was too late.

He felt it was just a desperate attempt to get him to believe I had changed but

He didn’t believe it because it had been 10 years of me not listening to him and expecting things that weren’t his personality .

The journey is still ongoing but I don’t think he believed it was truly a change for me until I forgave him for an affair and loved him through it and he was able to tell me about his abuse.

6. Did you think marriage would change his personality and that he would talk more once you were married? If so, why?

This one doesn’t personally pertain to me because it wasn’t an apparent issue when we got married – but I do caution anyone who feels this way.  

Nothing can change a person except for God and that person’s will. 

You can pray for it, but it has to be a breaking of their heart and spirit to let God in… and frankly, it may need to be a breaking of your own heart to realize YOU are the one who needs to change.

7. What challenges have you faced in your marriage with communication?

I think this one I have pretty well gone over. It more or less had to be me realizing that my husband wasn’t really doing anything wrong. It was just his personality and I had to learn to work with him.

8. What makes your husband feel most loved/respected?

My husband feels the most loved and respected when he knows that I value his opinion.

  • If he is getting onto the kids and maybe doesn’t understand the situation or got the wrong kid, instead of calling him out in front of them,  I will ask for him to take a time out in the other room so we can discuss things.
  • In public, I let him speak.  So what if he got the day or the specific time wrong unless its someone’s birthday.  Does it really matter if the fish he caught was 5 lbs or 6 lbs?  Or who cares if the road you turned on to go to that cool place was on the right or the left??? Is it really worth making him feel inferior? It is very belittling to correct him in front of other people.

9. How have you been able to use your verbal/communication skills to adapt to your husband’s unique personality and needs?

I am a VERY communicative person. My husband is not. It is incredibly frustrating sometimes.

I have learned it helps me to write to him.

I write letters quite often.  I leave notes in his lunchbox, short texts throughout the day, etc.. Although he does not communicate much verbally, I do know that he enjoys reading my letters of affirmation. He likes to know that I respect him.

In situations like I listed earlier, I see the look on his face when I praise him in public or when I don’t correct him when he thinks I will – because he realizes he made a mistake. I used to call him all the time and interrupt his work. That was a huge distraction and annoyance for him.  I still want to do that because I like to hear his voice, but I have learned instead if I just absolutely must say something I jot it down and give him a note when he comes home.

There are so many other things I have learned personally.

While most people would have bailed on our marriage,  I am so thankful that I allowed God to use everything we have been through as a teaching tool.  It would be so easy to say he did all the sinning and I have every right to leave him – but in fact, I was a horrible sinner as well.

God is to be first in my life, and then my husband. I am learning that by working to please and help my husband I, in return, am finding more satisfaction and happiness.

It IS worth the effort! 🙂


The Introvert Husband – by the Genuine Husband

Being Married to a Man Who Doesn’t Talk Much – by Peacefulwife

How to Talk so Your Husband Will Listen and Listen So Your Husband Will Talk by Rick Johnson – AWESOME BOOK!!!!!!  I am going to be talking about this more soon!  But I heartily recommend it for single women and wives to learn to understand our men better and to learn how to better communicate in ways that are effective, respectful and powerful with our men – to bless them and our marriages.