UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE – Emotionally Vacant
I could see it on his face. The uninterested, bored, glaringly unavailable demeanor that said, “Leave me alone.” I kept glancing over at this man looking for signs of interest; but also to observe to see how his wife was handling this evident, dead space.
My husband Jack and I were out for an intimate, beautiful dinner at one of those restaurants where the linens are crisp, the goblets are gleaming and the service is impeccable. This was a place for cozy, friendly and loving conversation. I was hoping the couple beside us would also capture the essence of this gift, but the vacant space between them was tangibly strained. I was sensitive to this emotional vacancy because I had occasionally felt it in my first marriage. It’s a horribly, lonely and unloving atmosphere to be in; but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Here’s the crazy part. It is that emotionally unavailable man that has the potential to attract an outgoing, energetic, vibrant woman. The man’s calm, easy going nature is like a warm balm to a woman’s soul. But once they marry, and over time, the relationship boundaries become blurred. The emotional unavailability becomes a destructive force that makes the woman feel rejected, unloved, overlooked and even abandoned. At times it actually feels like emotional abuse. The more the woman tries to love the man, threaten him, bicker him to death with demands for change, the more he will pull away. No one will change until they decide they want to change.
Here is something we have to understand; both men and women can be unavailable emotionally. But your spouse did not stand up in his crib when he /she was a little child and declare, “When I grow up, I want to become emotionally vacant.” Something happened.
I have talked about this in the past that the main fear for a man is to be controlled by a woman in a relationship setting; especially when the woman demands something from him that he is not able to give. Somewhere in the person’s growing up years, one of two things happened:
1. Your spouse was hurt, rejected or did not receive the love that they needed from another family member. The way to protect ourselves when this happens is to close ourselves off from getting hurt again. Protecting ourselves is a behavior that evolves over time in a sub-conscious manner.
2. Your spouse grew up in a home where one, or both of the parents were unavailable emotionally. This was observed behavior that is now being transferred into his/her own marriage.
The sad part is that emotionally vacant people crave relationships the most but don’t know how to establish them.
There is incredible hope.
As is the case in all wounds, “revealing is the beginning of healing.” Each spouse needs to be able to declare their feelings without feeling judged or controlled. The best way to do this is in a counseling session where each spouse is able to make the other person see how painful it is to feel unloved and worthless. Both spouses have to be assured that they are loved and they have to find tools and constructive ways to show that love without feeling threatened.
It is absolutely crucial that you learn to trust each other with your love. Emotional vacancy is a behavior that is picked up by your children and they, in their growing up years, will also begin to suffer with their own issues of lack of intimacy.
Remember, we are ALL wounded, but God can heal all our wounds and restore us for glorious living and loving. I’m not just saying these words, I have lived them. I know them to be true.