Low self-esteem living with an emotionally unavailable spouse

emotionally unavailable

Is your self-esteem getting low and lower? 

Living with someone who is usually withdrawn and detached from you is heavy punishment to your self-esteem. Either you have selected this person to share your life because you need to compensate for past karma, or by sheer ignorance of his emotional availability, now it doesn't matter. You are trapped in the most sad of deals: expecting happiness in such a situation is like wanting to get water from a stone. In short: mission  impossible.
Sometimes, people ask me: why this men marry if they don't understand that marriage is emotional connection and support? why do they enter into a relationship having nothing to give? The answer is easy: because they need emotional connection as everybody does...The challenge lies in the previous situation: these men grew up in an emotional desert, without bonding emotionally with their mothers, and so they never experienced affection and love. Still, they need them; still, they know that something is badly missing from their own heart, and try to latch onto someone who is warm and emotionally connected. For narcissistic husbands, the hope is that they will experience love, and grow up to be able to live it personally, and leave the past behind. 
The horrible part of this hidden hope is that it is never part of a sincere, conscious contract with the people near them.

A contract, you say? what kind of contract?

One in which the emotionally deprived person reveals and opens up about his own disability and allows the other side to make an informed decision about marriage.
It would go like this:
"You know, I grew up with a mother that was not interested in me; she never allowed emotions between us and so I never felt basically accepted, loved and supported by her. I grew up trying to find what was wrong in me, but never discovered what could I do to make her love me. 
My childhood has left me without the skill to feel love, to share love and to know how and why other people connect through love...I don't know it, and basically I'm scared of it. My usual defense is to act cold, detached and aloof. Now, when you say that you love me, I don't believe it completely because I don't know what is to be loved....and probably will answer giving you a cold shoulder. I don't know what to say, or what to do, so I resort to silence. I would prefer that you don't insist on us sharing feelings, and this is the truth under my silent treatment. Is this what you want? Because this is what you will get from me..."
If you had this disclosure before getting married, you would be in a better position to know what big aspect of the relationship will be missing, how emotional damage happened to him, and also that there is little you can be guilty of. When he goes into his usual building a wall of silence around him, your first reaction would not be asking yourself: "what did I do wrong?" but: "Here he is, responding as he was responding when he was five years old...such a pity we can't have an adult conversation about our reciprocal needs..."
The point here is to help you clarify a basic aspect of this uneven communication process: You are NOT guilty of his lack of emotional skills now necessary to build a healthy relationship.
If you, acting as you usually do, burden yourself with the total responsibility of having nurturing and supportive conversations with him that would help each other grow, you are having an unjust burden.  You can't be in charge of  making this man happy... for you, is like hitting in the dark, never knowing what works. And the loneliness that the lack of emotional connection causes can have a permanent impact on your health. Of course, there are resources to help him overcome the scars of an insecure attachment in his childhood...and those resources are professionals (psychotherapists; coach, etc) who know how to help people grow emotionally into adulthood.
It is NEVER your job to make him grow up, and it gets worse for you when you never had such a disclosure as the one we show above, and he is still blaming you or your actions for the silent treatment he dishes on you frequently. If you think it carefully, even allowing yourself being compassionate towards him, it means finally that you can stop blaming yourself, and recover your self-esteem.
Feeling a little better now? Perhaps you would like to explore better options? Here is my new ebook:  Boosting your Self-Esteem...

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