intimacy in marriage


What Happens When Your Wife's Need for Intimacy is Not Met?
By Gary and Barbara Rosberg
America's Family Coaches

(c) 2000 by Dr. Gary and Barbara Rosberg
Used with Permission

She will withdraw.

When you sense your wife's wall going up, you know that something is very wrong. From a woman's perspective, it means that her husband is not a harbor of safety but a threat. This pattern of withdrawal can do significant damage to a relationship. And if this remains unaddressed, over time you can end up as two strangers coexisting under the same roof, sharing meals and the same bed but walled off from each other emotional.

Take a look at the guy in the mirror and ask the hard question: "what have I said or done to contribute to the wall my wife has built?"

Much of the time a woman will withdraw to protect herself if she is threatened by something you are doing or if she is feeling verbally attacked. When your words are positive, they strengthen the very foundation of your marriage. But if your words are critical, harsh, and destructive, your wife will retreat to protect herself. If you are using retaliation to her, if you are belittling her, you are throwing bricks at her and bruising her heart; she may then take those bricks and continue to build the wall. Take the lead, and address the pain. Become responsible for the tone of the relationship, and get back on course, especially if you're guilty of contributing to the pain.

If you see any of the following danger signals, your wife may be withdrawing, isolating herself, protecting herself from being hurt:

- Is your wife acting distracted?

- Does she maintained a distant relationship with you?

- Is she spending more time than usual at work or in other activities?

- Is she too busy to be intimate with you?

- Does she avoids spending time along with you?

- Do the children seem to be a higher priority for her then you are?

A woman can hide behind the wall, where she can flee by staying busy with a full personal calendar that doesn't have your name on it. When a woman seems cold and emotionally frozen, some men will make the mistake of trying to get her to snap out of it, by "setting her straight." I assure you, this is no way to win your wife back. If you intimidate her by rage, anger, or demands, she will withdraw even more. She will stay locked up and frozen.

She Will Not Feel Free to Respond to You Sexually

Husbands tend to interpret their wife's resistance to their sexual advances as rejection. Often her resistance is not rejection, however, it is an indication that she may not feel safe for that she can't get beyond a conflict the two of you are having.

Mike is a workaholic who wins at work. He thrives on conquest, whether it is people or deals. Fifteen hour days consume him. He's proud of the lifestyle he has provided for his wife, Peggy. After all, he has achieved the American dream of having it all: a large home in a gated community, a three-car garage with two new cars, and his-and-her snowmobiles.

But what defines success in industry doesn't defines success at home. The work that provides all the toys is nothing other than the "other woman" in Peggy's eyes; work is the mistress that is robbing her of her husband's focus and attention. She's being squeezed out of his daily planner.

When the doors of the master bedroom suite close them off from the rest of the house, the two people inside are closed off from each other as well. Mike may conquer at work, but he's not winning with her. If he truly cared about her, he would be as eager about spending time with her as he is about spending time at work. Most days he is so spent by the time he gets home that he doesn't have the emotional energy to satisfy her heart needs, and Peggy responds by rejecting his sexual advances.

If a man wants great sex with his wife behind the bedroom door, he needs to work on the way he relates to her outside those doors.

She May Look Elsewhere to Have Her Needs Met

Another consequence of your wife's unmet need for emotional intimacy is that she may become involved with another man. This is a worst-case scenario, but it does happen. If a woman is not understood and cherished, if her need for emotional intimacy is not met, she becomes vulnerable to other men who show interest in her thoughts and emotions.

If another man makes your wife feel comfortable and safe, validating her thoughts, and sharing her emotions, you can be headed for trouble. In all likelihood, this man will be someone she encounters in ordinary daily life: your best friend, a neighbor, her boss, or a fellow associate. It will start out very innocently with a few conversations here and there. The more compassionate or empathetic he is, the more dangerous it becomes.

How can such a thing happened to Christians? "Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do," Proverbs 4:23 warns us. In satisfying your wife's love need for emotional intimacy, we guard each other's hearts. A woman can form emotional attachments more easily than a man can. And when a woman has an unguarded heart, before she knows it, she's developed an emotional bond with someone other than her husband.

The label of "Christian" isn't going to hold your marriage together for you. We Christians must surrender everything that gets in the way of following God wholeheartedly in our marriage. Begin by becoming alert to the red flags that may indicate your wife is finding her emotional needs met by another man. Then work hard to protect your marriage by making sure you are the one to meet your wife's emotional needs.

Part Five: "How Can You Meet Your Wife's Need for Emotional Intimacy?"

(Editor's Note:  Dr. Gary and Barbara Rosberg are America's Family Coaches!  As such, their ministry includes a powerful and yet practical approach to building your family and marriage.  I first heard Gary speak at a Promise Keeper's event.  To this day, his message of "guarding your heart" and "staying focused on your family" has impacted my life.  Both Gary and Barbara are gifted and powerful speakers.  Please take a moment to consider how your marriage can benefit from their ministry, whether through visiting their website, purchasing one of their best-selling books, listing to their popular radio program, or attending a life-changing seminar.  You can also reach them toll-free by dialing 1-888-ROSBERG.) 




(c) 2003 Caton Development, Inc.

marriage intimacy