Jul 092013 78 Responses

The Warning Sign of a Bad Marriage You Might Miss

Do you know what a dying marriage sounds like?

Would your recognize it if you heard it?

We assume a bad marriage sounds like:

  • World War 3
  • A Cat Fight
  • A heated debate between two political opponents

Yet most bad marriages sound the same. They sound silent.

There is no arguing. No fighting. No discussion. (See: 15 Tips for a Better Marriage)

Just silence.

Silence before work. Silence after work. Silence while cooking. Silence while eating. Silence while watching TV. Silence while going to bed.

Then suddenly the silence is broken with laughter, conversation, and joy. What breaks the silence? Someone else. A friend calls, a child drops by, a co-worker comes for dinner. When someone else is in the house, it is full of joy, but when they leave, the silence returns.

You see your spouse engage a co-worker and you wonder—why won’t he talk to me that way?

You see her laugh with a child and you remember—she used to laugh with me like that.

You see him comfort a hurting friend and you think—he has such compassion for others, but not me.

What you don’t see is your spouse feeling the same things about you.

Notice how you talk to your child, friend, co-worker, pastor, bank teller, and even strangers compared to how you talk to your spouse. (See: I Wouldn’t Sleep with You Either)

If you engage others more than your spouse, you are headed in the wrong direction.

Silent marriages have dangerous consequences:  

  • Issues stay unresolved
  • Hearts remain hidden
  • Vulnerability is always rejected
  • Depth is never experienced

A marriage with lots of fighting can often end with one dramatic joust, but a silent marriage ends with a thousand words unsaid and neither spouse knowing where or when it went wrong.

Silence is a symptom of apathy. There is no use trying. No one is willing to take the risk and actually try to communicate. We’ve been rejected too many times. We have failed too much. So we no longer try. We tell ourselves to stop caring as a way to prevent hurt.

Yet there is another way.

It’s the not the way of aggression. Don’t start yelling to break the silence.

Many silent marriages have moments of yelling. One spouse is tired of the silence and tries to break it, yet the other spouse feels overwhelmed and one or both of them begin to shout. The message is heard loud and clear—don’t break the silence or you will get violence.

The end to apathy is not aggression; it’s meekness. “Blessed are the meek,” Jesus said.

  • It’s the middle ground between aggression and apathy
  • It’s attacking a problem, but never a person
  • It’s communicating about difficult topics, but with humility
  • It’s submitting every issue to a higher purpose and never blowing things out of proportion
  • It’s understanding what matters and refusing to stay silent about it

Meekness communicates that one still cares about the marriage. It announces “I’m still here.” It shows concern for the other person. It reveals a vulnerability and welcomes the other person to reciprocate.

Meekness reigns in the aggressive and it provokes the apathetic.

For some, meekness would say “stop yelling.”

For many, meekness would say, “start talking.”

Wonder if you operate with meekness? Consider the following questions:

  • Do you regularly resolve issues?
  • Do you communicate your full heart to your spouse?
  • Are you able to talk about every issue without great fear? Money? Sex? In-laws?
  • Do you and your spouse protect each other’s hearts?

If the answer to these questions is yes, you probably are operating with meekness. If the answer is no, consider what meekness would look like in response to that issue.

Silence is an often overlooked indicator of a bad marriage. Listen to your marriage this week. Are you and your spouse communicating at a healthy level? Do you give your best conversations to your spouse? Are you learning more about how to communicate to each other on an annual basis? (See: This Is Holding Your Marriage Back)

If you find yourself in a silent marriage:

Share this post with your spouse, make plans for dinner tonight and discuss your answers to the following statements:

I knew I was in love with you when…

When we were dating, my favorite thing was when you would….

My five favorite moments of our marriage are….

 

Warning Men: It’s true for everyone, but men especially are often blindsided when a silent marriage suddenly ends with an affair. Make no mistake about it, if you allow your wife’s heart to slowly die, you are putting her at risk of finding someone who brings it alive. Silence from your wife is a warning sign to which you must respond. Fail to do so at your own peril.

78 Responses to The Warning Sign of a Bad Marriage You Might Miss
  1. R. E. Fuhrman Reply

    What if all you get from your spouse is critisim? Or put downs? For me, I quit responding. My spouse has a very quick sharp tongue and uses it all the time.

    I saw a sign that said “The problem with conservation is that we listen to respond. We don’t listen to understand.”

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      R.E., it is a good idea to stop responding to criticism, just make sure you are responding and initiating to other things. This can actually be a powerful tool–it rewards good behavior.

  2. Sarah Griffin Reply

    I love this post. It’s almost scary how spot on you are with certain situations.

  3. Lawrie Wallace Reply

    Wow!!! Straight to the heart. Got to work harder.

  4. TL Koonce Reply

    At some point my wife decided that her parents were more important to her than me or the children, and nothing I can say or do will change her mind. Two years of counseling had no effect. The kids were able to tell their mother’s priorities and have been hurt by her choices. Is there silence in the marriage? No. Is there talk about our marriage? Not anymore. My time is spent reassuring my children they are loved.

    Is this the way God designed our marriage to be? Absolutely not, but at some point you realize that a situation is beyond your ability to influence. You ask God for grace, strength, and mercy, and you turn that situation over to Him to handle. You do not know the outcome, you just know that whatever happens, He will never leave nor forsake you.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      If I can ever be of any assistance or support to you, please let me know.

  5. [...] silence is the Warning Sign of a Bad Marriage You Might Miss, the absence of respect is the obvious warn... kevinathompson.com/respect-a-necessary-ingredient-for-a-successful-marriage
  6. Deb Bowman Reply

    Our marriage is dead in the water. Total Silence. My husband is a man of few words, if I try to initiate a conversation, he simply throws out words that he thinks I want to hear, mostly unrelated to anything truthful. I no longer have any desire to even talk to him. We tried a few sessions of marriage counseling, was no help what so ever. Perhaps a different counselor? I don’t know where to turn.

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  8. […] A couple comes into my office. The wife is done. She’s had enough. In her eyes, she has put up... kevinathompson.com/holding-your-marriage-back
  9. Sherma Reply

    I’ve pretty much felt like giving up because our marriage is a silent one as well. I try to communicate but he won’t say what’s on his mind. I feel like I’m the one nagging so since I’ve kept silent. Only 1yr 8 months of marriage and 15 yrs of being together, I feel like all this is going down the drain. I have absolutely no idea what’s next.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Sherma, Call a counselor in your area and go by yourself. Get some help to see what you should do next. If you live near me, I have people I can recommend.

    • cyo Reply

      I feel the same here. Ironically, one of the main things I loved about my husband was that we could talk. Now, we talk, about the sky, the weather…everything but the issues that stand between us. I endure sex bcoz it feels as though that is the only touch I get. He says he doesn’t get enough of it so he hasn’t got time for non-sexual physical contact. People I talk to tell me I need to get real.
      -Do you regularly resolve issues? No, they fade away

      – Do you communicate your full heart to your spouse? Communicate= share or exchange information, news, or ideas – yes; communicate=convey or transmit (an emotion or feeling) in a nonverbal way – No

      -Are you able to talk about every issue without great fear? Money? Sex? In-laws? EVERY? No.

      – Do you and your spouse protect each other’s hearts? Don’t know what that means.

      • Anita Reply

        Cyo,
        Your comments are so “us”. I would add fear of making him mad causes me to keep quiet about anything on a personal level. Did you find help?

  10. Lisa Reply

    My marriage of nearly 24 years is silent except for when my husband is yelling, raging or swearing. I just spend most of the day today away from the house aimlessly killing time because it was better than being home. I made sure to also take our three kids with me because I didn’t want them to be around the rage. My husband is a hypocrite.

    • Janie Reply

      Lisa I do the same…just leave so I don’t have to deal with the emotional abuse. But then I get nagged on for going out of the house for a while. If I stay inside the fights almost end up in one of us saying we are going to call the cops. He gets in front of my face and tried to get me to push or hit him. He isn’t a physical abuser, but once I we had a situation where he did get a little physical after I uncovered some affairs he was having in the laptop. He tried to take it away and got agressive. The cops charged him with domestic asult and I left him in jail for 5 days before bailing him out.
      For the last 8 years he wants me to see what jail was like to him. So he constantly “tries” to get me to be physically aggressive. Luckily I haven’t yet.
      My point is, if I stay a minute longer some day it could be my biggest regret. I have no choice but to leave the house for a bit. Now I literally have am office in our garage, just to avoid him any minute he is home.
      He won’t do anything around the house when he is off work but sit in his recliner and watch tv. We are in the verge of bankruptcy and he refuses to talk about our finances and what we should do. He will not look at the bills or open mail. I’ve made spreadsheets many times showing him our debt to income. He refuses to look at it. I just depleted the last of my 401k, I don’t know where we will get the money needed to cover all of the upcoming months bills. He refuses to work overtime, saying he already works too much. He work 4 days on an 4 days off. Many men would love a 4 day weekend.
      I am the one who always had to take on part time work until 2 yrs ago my Lupus started to flair causing all kinds of ailments to my body and system. He ridicules me for not being able to work even though for 10+ yrs of our 15 yr relationship, I earned 3 to 4 x what he did. I never threw it in his face. But he sure does mine! I still do work as much as my body allows me to – I just don’t make very much $$ doing it. It kills me because I have 2 masters degrees and never thought I would be unable to work full time.
      Either he gets silent during the times I ask for ANY kind of help, advice, want to talk about our kids or financial issues, etc. Otherwise he blows up in rage and screams at me, punches walks, breaks things, etc. He refuses to communicate with me sensibily and quietly when I am at home or no communication at all.. I never know what to expect.
      My son’s are starting to resemble his attitude, demeanor, mannerisms in the way they speak down to or treat me. Everything is my fault. From lost socks, to no snacks they like in the house (even though I just spent $300+ for a family of 4 at the grocery store), why isn’t their food on the table at an exact time ea day, running the vacuum or doing dishes a time that is inconvenient to them hearing tv…. Everything cotton picking thing they can get upset with me about they do.
      I can spend 2 hours making supper and do I ever get a thank you or help cleaning up? NO! Oh my, dare I ask and WW3 breaks out.
      I can’t permanently leave because I can’t afford to be on my own. I am also afraid my kids will choose their father over me because he has definitely manipulated their minds against me.
      I have pleaded and begged for counseling. I have seen 7 diff counselors on my own. They all tell me I need to leave. That’s why I have been to so many because I don’t want to hear that.
      I am at such a loss on what to do? My family dies not support the idea of a divorce. They have flat out said no to me moving my kids in with them until I can get on my feet independently. No pne will hire me in this rual community because I am viable disabled and also over educated for the very few jobs in my small town. I can no longer drive a car due to my health to travel to a different town.
      I lost all my friends because of him. No one likes him. I haven’t had a friend to talk to in years. I keep trying to reach out to the few friends I had before but i never get any response back. I have no sisters to talk to, I am the only girl. I don’t know any of my cousins or extended family. Very few live near me. My mother won’t get involved with my martial issues because my father forbids it. So she rarely is allowed to speak to me and doesn’t spend much time with me. They said they do not want to be around my husband or I until we work things out. I should’ve known better because our dating life was not much better. I’ve been trying to deal with the worst of it for 8 years already.
      His parents won’t get involved and honestly they think we should divorce. They will probably dance in the street and throw a party if we did seperate. I’ve tried talking to them many times pleading for them to talk to him for the kids sake. His parents have never cared for me ever since I had to quit giving them money each month to pay their own bills. They were not very good parents to my husband growing up. His father us an alcoholic and his mother refuses to work. Thet sit in their recliners for endless hours a day watching tv. They don’t even have anything to do with my children. I feel bad to say these things, but they are the truth.
      Infedelity is hard to overcome. I wish I could work it out like they want.
      He hasn’t held my hand, kissed me or lovingly touched me in 10 years! I beg him and ask him to do these things…yet he never does. I feel so alone and so hated.
      I’m very scared and pray to God for peace and to help us overcome all these issues. Or learn to live in harmony and understand each other better. I am very spiritual and my husband refuses to go to church, pray, or let God into his side of the marriage. He ridicules me if I try to get my kids to attend church or Sunday School. He won’t let them go and now they are old enough that they refuse to go with me. How did we get to this?
      He will not even speak to a Pastor. What can I do? Please pray for us. Thank you everyone and may God bless your marriages and make them stronger.

  11. Samantha Reply

    This really hit home. Spot on. Married 8 years and I couldn’t even tell you when it began to disintegrate, probably before our wedding. We were way too young to even comprehend love, marriage, devotion, submission. My husband was more interested in his phone or the tablet, technology, than me. Silence. I left, I’m trying to move on, but its hard. He blames me but it was the silence. Thank you for your posts Kevin, they are wonderful to read.

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  13. The Baby Mama Reply

    Does writing count? I often battle to explain myself and writing is a great way to put my thoughts out without confusing myself. I’ve always been very shy and introverted and writing is just such a good way to explain things to my hubby. Especially when it is an issue close to my heart. However, I am very worried that our marriage is too quiet. How do I ignite the conversation? Please help…

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Writing can definitely be a major part of it. The question would be whether or not each spouse feels heard and understood. Read Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson and see if that helps.

  14. Grace Anon Reply

    I’m very grateful for how

  15. Grace Anon Reply

    I’m very grateful for how deeply and accurately you’ve explored the topic of silence in relationships. Thank you! How would you go about advising a couple whose relationships/marriage ends in silence too? And if the silence created a climate of fear and defensiveness between the partners, further hindering their freedom to share intimately, what advice would you give to help the partners recover from all the hurts that are left unresolved with no hope of actually talking them through or bringing them up with that person again? I know these are questions where the most accurate answer is “it depends,” “seek counseling for ones’ own growth and integration” and “seek humility and forgiveness” , but any reactions, thoughts, concrete steps or insights from past experiences in your work towards healing and moving forward?

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Grace, So sorry for your experience and pain. I think you are on the right track. My focus would be to deeply understand my own need for forgiveness. The greater I understand my need and what God has done for me, the more likely I am to give forgiveness to another. A few thoughts: write a letter to the person explaining all the pain they have caused you, hold nothing back. Instead of mailing that letter, go to a beautiful place, and spend some in prayer and reflection. While there, write another letter. Write a prayer letter announcing your forgiveness for the person. Sign it and date it. Then burn the first letter and keep the second. Whenever you feel feelings of pain or unforgiveness creep in, re-read the second letter and remind yourself of the truth.

  16. edennoel Reply

    I watched my brother’s marriage die slowly. It was bad for years and years but I saw him keep trying, keep investing, keep caring. He did not want the marriage to end but finally realized he had to let her make her choice. After her suicide attempt and her diagnosis of bipolar disorder, he tried so hard to hold on but finally realized he could not keep her there if she did not want to stay. She left happily, convinced he was the worst human being on the planet. But I now know that is typical of people with bipolar disorder–untreated they collapse under intimate relationships and blame those closest to them. Every opportunity for treatment was afforded her but she refused, convinced that it was all an attempt to label her as “crazy.” She had been silent for years about what made her unhappy but in the last days of the marriage she told him of things he had done wrong 15 years before that had hurt her feelings. He had no idea. Her silence had been deafening.

    I keep working on forgiveness. We were neighbors and friends and her behavior was so confusing for so many years. I have learned so much about bipolar disorder since then and it was a relief to be able to see what was actually going on. It was a relief to finally see the patterns where I had only seen the chaos before. He has their three children and continued to raise them. Now two of those children are showing the same bipolar signs–the chaos, the highs, the lows, the impulsivity with finances and sex, the fantasy thinking. The statistics I hear are that on average it takes 10 years to diagnose bipolar disorder and and another 10 years to get them stabilized and successfully treated. Untreated bipolar disorder tore their family apart but we hope from what we have learned that we can help his two diagnosed children get a head start on the stabilization time frame. We hope.

    I know so much more about the disease now but it does not remove the pain of watching my niece ad nephew descend into the vortex of trouble that comes with it. I wish I had known more about bipolar disease before. I wish I had known how much damage an untreated mental illness can do on a marriage. I don’t see that story told very often. Mental illness is very serious and tragic but I see very little about the collateral damage that happens to spouses, children and loved ones of those who suffer. We have to do a better job of treating these illnesses—particularly stubborn ones like bipolar disorder or personality disorders–and better prepare and equip the spouses and family of those who suffer with the realities they take on when they in these relationships. Most of all, I hope for healing for all of us—treated, untreated, mentally ill, or not.

  17. Liz Reply

    I have been married for 20 years and It’s like you have been watching my marriage for the past 5 years. I am do tired of the silence. I have begged for attention, nothing. I begged for sex and received nothing. I thought that now life should be good. Kids grown and off to college and there is nothing, but silence. I know it’s time to get on with my own life. Everyday I asked for strength and guidance.

  18. M Reply

    Thought provoking article. Us men often have a hard time with communication. Question the
    last part of the article dealing with affairs. Is this a causal justification for the woman having the affair?
    Can men then causally justify a sexual relationship outside of marriage in the same way? Personally,
    I believe the answer to both is a resounding no!

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Thanks for reading and for the message. I’m sorry if the article could be read as excusing an affair. I would never want to do so. An individual is always responsible for their individual decision making.

  19. Naomi Reply

    I have been married for 2 1/2 yrs and lately I feel the silence lingering and my feelings totally disregarded. I’m 7 months pregnant and I often feel myself questioning is my marriage failing and do I belong here.
    He says I’m a great wife but has a heck of a way of showing it. How do you know when your marriage is failing?

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Naomi, one way you know that it is failing is that you feel that it is failing. That’s a sign of a problem. The key is to get help. Find a good counselor in your area and make an appointment.

  20. sarah Reply

    my heart is breaking I feel so alone and wish it anything would change. His life is so busy and I am waiting at home with the kids….Getting older sadder the type of woman I never thought I would be the type of woman I felt sorry for… God I love my kids. God I wish I loved my husband and trusted him… I do not feel at ALL emotionally safe with him and do so utterly want to feel something than this “its just another day” existence which is how my husband makes me feel especially on my birthday and mothers days…

    • desperate Reply

      I had to do quite a few double takes on your comment because we share the same name and you wrote exactly what I write in my diary month after month.

  21. pam Reply

    I walk on egg shells everyday! I never know what will anger him.
    We are two different religions. He
    Is very involved while I sit home alone. Allot is my fault, I made concessions when my parents were
    Living. Their love filled that void. Now they have died and I have no family in the city where I

  22. Sonja Reply

    Kevin, this article sums up the last 7 years of my 19 year marriage. My heart is broken in so many ways from the lack of interest my husband has in knowing what it means to stay married happily. He hasn’t had a job in these past 7 years and seems content to let me shoulder the financial burden in our relationship. While I went from stay at home mom to working a demanding full time management position, he has not picked up the burden of household duties. We have stopped having sex. I can’t even remember the last time. He finally started going to therapy, but won’t entertain the idea of marital counseling. When we did try that he said he didn’t like it because it made him feel bad about himself.
    The warning that you wrote to men in the last paragraph is so true. I feel so alone and abandoned in this relationship that if the opportunity presented itself, I can’t say I would deny it. It’s sad really.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Sonja, I’m sorry for your pain. I wish a marriage could be good just based on the work and desire of one person but sadly it takes two to make it good but only one to make it bad. Hopefully some men will read your comment and take this article seriously.

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  24. AL Reply

    I have been married 18 years to my high school sweetheart 9 years into the marriage – and I was 8 months pregnant- I received a phone call that my husband was had been sleeping with this mans girlfriend. I remember my knees hitting the floor words can not describe the pain I felt. I found I was even teaching the ladies kids in my sunday school class Even found picture of her kids in my sons Birthday party we had at church. We went to counseling – I was asked not to ask any details of the affair he had been seeing her for over a year. I honestly felt apart of me had died – I have never been the same. We stayed together – he left the job he met her at and took another job in which he started traveling but home at night I can say that 3 year out we were doing good its like we were learning who each other was all over again I was almost Thankful for the affair – he then received a promotion in which he would travel but, be gone over night and his job is very stressful. I would call and he would say I am busy I will call back he wouldn’t all progress felt like it was gone – I felt like i was just a kept women with his kids SO VERY lonely. On 3 separate occasions I ask for him to sit down I explain to him how unhappy I was and how lonely and could we please start doing a date night or just anything so we could be together. Each time it would get a little better and then he would slip right back into the old ways. I became silent – cut off almost as if I was living a life with the kids alone just doing everyday life with them. The job I worked at was customer service I met a man who lived 4 hours away – he made me laugh we were only friends through email for a year he knew my situation with my husband. I found myself having feeling for him and I did the one thing that hurt ME the most the one thing that change me. I met this man in person. My guilt would not let me sleep it would not let me eat and it would not let me lie. I told my husband I hurt him and I did not do it to get back my know means it just happen and I allowed it. Again we worked it out Again it was good for while Again we are back in slient Again he does not return my calls and something is always preventing us to spend that alone time. I don’t know if I expect too much out of marriage but, I want to be happy both of us to be happy – I want to feel wanted and desired and it would be so nice if he would just call just because he wanted too. We are back in silences I am not longer working but PT. I am going my life again with the kids alone. I wonder if the pain we both have caused If we are best to move on. It breaks my heart this is not the marriage I had wanted growing up and it is not what I want for my kids at all. I am so broken and when I look back a the women I was before him being unfaithful – I would give anything to have her back.

  25. bengal15 Reply

    What if both spouses are people of few words and were raised to keep their issues to themselves? Sounds like such a marriage is a non-starter, which would spell big trouble for my wife and me.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      It would only be a non-starter if both spouses refuse to learn new skills. Thankfully, we can learn to communicate.

      • bengal15 Reply

        Yes, we can learn to communicate — there are hundreds of books that teach the necessary skills. But communication about the core issues that REALLY need to be addressed is, by nature, highly emotional. Neither of us is equipped to handle such a conversation without losing it to some extent. How does one learn or develop enough emotional toughness to talk about what’s truly important?

        • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

          Generally it happens when a professional counselor comes along side the couple and assists them through the process.

  26. Anntunate Reply

    Very good articles and comments I am going through these situations in my marriage as well . And it die sent feel good at all

  27. Diana Reply

    wow. Same here and just now my daughter and her boyfriend stopped over, lots of talking and chattering just like it said in your article. That is so true and it will be quiet again soon when they leave.

    The thought of sending this article to my husband makes me feel like I’d be setting myself up for more heartache.

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  29. Trisha Reply

    I’ve read alot on the problems others have had in their marriage. And man i’m going through the exact same thing with my marriage. I’ve been married to my husband Matt for a little over five years now and being on disability i’ve supported him. Always getting him what he wants, needs, or even desires and for some reaason that doesn’t seem to be enough. we never seriously sit down and talk about things that are extremely important like how we need to be in order to have our daughter back in our lives since she was wrongfully taken from me when she was just six and half years old. During the time my daughter was gone: I was the one who took things very very seriously in order to possibly get her back with me. My husband did absolutely nothing. He ran or hid from responsibility!!!! Making up excuses of why he couldn’t be reached by phone or mail. Well obviously the courts didn’t believe those excuses and in the end his parental rights were terminated. As for me my rights were wrongfully terminated merely because of being on disability or possibly because i chose to stay with my husband because i loved him. But now i’m unsure what to do now that he has walked out on me for the fourth or fifth time just because we had a fight, spat, argument, disagreement what ever you want to call it. I’m at my wits end not knowing what to do, where to turn mainly because of all the things i’ve been told about what marriage is all about. I didn’t mind being there for my husband, getting things that he wanted needed or desired if my budget would allow it. I covered his half of rent no matter where we lived, got personal items,things to eat,drink, the list goes on and on. But now he’s said it’s not that he doesn’t love me or that he’s not greatful of what i’ve done for him: He just wants to be wild, free: He wants his life back. Please tell me how can i change his mind and stay with me and try and work things out after all i’ve done for him these five and a half years we’ve been married for i strongly don’t believe divorce is the answer just because we’ve gone through some tough times. Thank You sincerely Mrs. Trish Olmstead

  30. Amanda Reply

    Husband always gets mad at me for the littlest of things. What he gets irritated of me doing, he does himself and thinks nothing of it. When he is mad at me, he remains quiet. It could take a whole day before he’ll even say something regardless of me trying to break the silence, I get ignored. When he does talk to me, it’s usually insults.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Amanda,
      It would be great if the two of you could talk to someone about this.

  31. Anna Reply

    Could you please help me what I should do? I believe in God, saw many of his miracles in my life and both my husband and me are going to church but this has happened to me and I don’t know how to behave. We just got married and today my husband left our house to go stay at his mother’s house. My husband has been emotionally supportive to me for a year before our marriage that I have spent in a hospital. When I came out,new decided to get married, we have already been together for 3 and a half years before the marriage. Recently his business started going bad, so I payed off his debts, since then I keep paying for 4 months now for everything in our lives: for the rent, bills, food, his phone, his business, his computer games etc on top of that I perform my wifely duties: cooking and cleaning. I’m a professional writer, so I make my money off books (in Russian language) and writing scripts for movies. My savings come from me being a successful model for the last 7 years. I had to take some extra jobs this month because it’s too expensive for me to pay for him as well. The worst thing is that he doesn’t work, he just played his games and drinks with his friends on my money. I asked him to start working. After that he would go for 1 or 2 meetings in a day (working for 2-3 hours in total per day) and then he will go on and on about how tired he is. Right after our wedding, the family of my husband started asking me for money. They own a lot of properties and houses, but refuse to sell them. I gave them money to pay for their daughter’s private school, for food and for gas. Now his mother comes to our house and takes food from our fridge to hers, the next day she comes back and asks me to cook, then she started asking us to pick up his sister on most days of the week from school etc etc. I got tired of it and tried talking to my husband. He didn’t want to listen to me because “I’m screaming”. So I wrote him letters instead trying to explain my issue. He just replied to me that he is sorry and he is tired of arguing, so I should stop. I said that I want to keep talking, so he just packed and left. I don’t know what to do now. I’m taking responsibility for both of our lives and for his parent’s bad choices on top of it, and he still wants to leave. I told him that if he wants to leave, he can go. I don’t want to let him back in until he shows that something has actually changed. I’m afraid that otherwise him and his family will just continue taking advantage of me. Please help me, I don’t know how I can possibly save our marriage.

  32. […] For this reason, some couples stop fighting. They can’t take it. Issues are ignored. Words go ... kevinathompson.com/small-fight-small
  33. Lillian Reply

    This article describes (mostly me) but my marriage to a “T”. I have stopped talking, I have so much disappointment in his lack of effort that I have nothing more to say- what’s the point? It’s been 25 years and now you want to know what I’m thinking? I’ve been trying to communicate for years and he would shut me down or walk out in the middle of it or become very disrespectful. Now, my kids are grown and I feel like I don’t have a reason to try to save any part of this marriage I’m totally numb to it- I don’t feel mad or sad or angry, I really don’t feel anything but how can I get out. You’re absolutely right about men ignoring their wives, women usually endure more and stay long past time to leave but once they’re done it’s pretty much a wrap. My advice to men would be to not shut her out or refuse to communicate if you really want to keep your wife.

  34. […] Most marriages do not end with a spectacular fight; they end with an apathetic whimper. What began ... kevinathompson.com/when-your-marriage-feels-like-you-just-co-exist
  35. […] Yet healthy couples learn, grow, and develop proper communication. The result is that both spouses f... kevinathompson.com/make-wife-feel-heard
  36. Me Reply

    But, How do you fix this? After 26 years, I am not going to suddenly start talking. I guess a big part of our problem is that I will only say what will make him happy because his feelings get hurt by anything and everything.

  37. Sad Reply

    The last paragraph of this article rang especially true to me. As a last-ditch effort, I’ve even tried to tell him and show him that I needed and wanted his attention, his love. His responses to my efforts have been hurtful and alienating.

    He will not touch me, kiss me, look at me, barely talk to me, puts literal rooms between us, locking the door. He purchased noise-cancelling headphones that he wears only when I am home. Usually, there is nothing playing on them. When I attempt to initiate intimacy, he will do something physically repulsive and laugh in my face as he does it.

    I can’t keep reaching out. It makes me feel smaller and smaller as his rejection becomes greater and greater.

    A man that I know has so many of the qualities that I love and miss in my husband. He will listen to me, look to me as he talks to me, is respectful and kind — really very basic human decency — but because of his similarity to the things I love about my husband (but rarely see) I find myself growing in attraction to this man.

    My silence increases the more my husband pushes me away, because I am unwilling to open myself to more rejection by him.

    My last straw was when I went to give him a kiss the other day, and he spit food into my mouth. I’m embarrassed to even type that. It just closed my heart.

    I couldn’t say that I would even want the other man if he were to reciprocate my interest, but a thought that I never even entertained in nearly 20 years of marriage is now present in my mind on a daily basis.

  38. R Gill Reply

    I don’t know how much more I can take. My husband has an extreme temper. Any little thing sets off an explosion of rage. He throws things, yells and swears, and smashes things. And has hit me a few times. Although he calls it spankings and says its OK. Any time I bring up that I want him to get help he says we can’t afford it and it would not do any good even if we could. He says he doesn’t know how to change and he doubts that he could change enough for me to be happy. Last time I brought it up he said everyone in his life has always given up on him and expected him to fail so why should I be any different? I just don’t know what to do any more.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      In my opinion, hitting is never acceptable and I always encourage a wife to leave if her husband hits her.

  39. R Gill Reply

    I don’t know how I can. I have zero money. Anything I’ve gotten he takes to spend on whatever. Including birthday and Christmas money. Almost the minute he sees cash in a card it goes in his pocket and I never touch it. I have a 3 yo and 12 month old to care for. I’ve been looking for a job but haven’t been hired yet. I don’t want my marriage to end but if he has no interest in getting help I don’t know what else to do.

  40. […] Silence. Few things define the well-being of a relationship like communication. Healthy couples [... kevinathompson.com/5-signs-your-relationship-is-dying
  41. Laura Lee Bonde Reply

    Earlier this year, I married my ex-husband (after 22 years of divorce), and in June, I moved me and my kids in with him (in another state). These last five months have been miserable.

    He never talks and claims he’s never learned. He’s gone from a life of isolation to isolating right in front of us. My 13yr old has left and my 24yr old is next to leave. They can’t stand it either. One by one, they’re leaving, and I’m left hoping, but for what?

    I’ve tried many discussions with him and, just recently, was brutally honest with him. Still…no talking…barely engaging with any of us.

    [sigh]

    Unequally yoked in every way…yet I followed the scripture about going back to your husband.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Laura, I’m sorry for your pain. I would go to counseling as soon as possible with or without him. I’m not sure what Scripture you are talking about. I don’t encourage couples to remarry spouses they have divorced.

  42. Laura Lee Bonde Reply

    The other day, I tried to respond, but it wouldn’t let me.

    Thank you for responding, Kevin. The Scripture was 1Cor7:10-11. We have counseling on the 2nd, but it’s through the VA, so I’m not sure what I’ll hear, but because of your advice, I’m going to find a counselor for me at the church. My husband won’t go to church (of course).

  43. […] It’s easier in the short-term to avoid tension and keep a pseudo-peace. However, if a couple c... kevinathompson.com/easy-road-bad-marriage
  44. Matt Reply

    Well actually it applies to both genders when you talk about affairs. A woman can ignore her husband to the point he feels like he is living alone. At that point, he may as well leave the home and live alone completely. Otherwise he will be used for sex and night time comforts only.

    What’s your opinion of a wife that spends every day in the company, ignores calls and texts, has separate social activities, separate friends and comes home to try and conceive every night?

    No talk about vacations or savings. No talk about the day. No talk about meaningful conversations. No plans for visitors or days out together. Not even talk about what they are planning to do the next day (apart from asking if the spouse is working).

    What would you do in this situation?

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      It’s a problem that must be discussed. If you can’t figure it out alone, call a counselor.

  45. Natalie Reply

    I’m in a promising relationship with my boyfriend right now, and we’ve talked about basically everything. We’ve talked through where we want to go to college (I’m 18 this July and he’s 17 this August), what careers we might like, how many kids we would want and when, and so on. I have a friend who was talking through the possibility of getting engaged with his girlfriend of three years, but then they broke up. How do you make sure you keep talking? Especially when you’re separate for long periods of time? How do you know when you’ve really found the right person?

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      There is no such thing as the right person. The key is to keep growing–both of you. If you are separated at times, maybe you could both read a book and discuss it when you talk. Maybe each day you discuss whatever article I post that day.

  46. Amethyst Magee Reply

    I tried to be meek. And did a pretty good job of it because I was feeling so vulnerable at the time. All I got in return was defensiveness over the issue. Probably because the issue is basically a lack of intimacy.

  47. John Smith Reply

    My wife screams insults at me whenever something happens she doesn’t like. The only way to get her to stop is say nothing. Saying anything at all prolongs the screaming, and sometimes ends in her throwing something, last time juice at me in my basement bedroom. You can still see it on the wall.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      That’s no acceptable in my book. I would go to counseling with or without her. If she’s not willing to change, I would not live with someone who continually insults me.

  48. DaughterOfGod Reply

    Hi Kevin
    I’m a bit surprised about your last response “If she’s not willing to change, I would not live with someone who continually insults me”, although I am not sure you are responding to the guy above, J.Smith.
    First, I would like to thank you for your courage and determination to help people, especially in marriages; that is not the easy stuff!!
    And in the comments I see so much pain. I hope my comment would help some of them too.
    What I would like to say to all of you is this:
    There is always a reason for screaming or insulting or keeping silent… I am not saying screaming or insulting… are good solutions of course.
    Very often I would say, women who are desperate and frustrated act with wrath and violence.
    The pain in their heart might be unbearable (I know something about that!!) but doing so make the relationship even worse.
    Women have to remember that men need feeling respected.
    Men have to remember that women need feeling loved.
    I mean we should try to find the source, go deeper and not looking at the appearance. As God looks at the heart, we should do the same as children of God (as we have His nature within us).
    Human beings always act according to their beliefs in their heart.
    As we are supposed to bless and pray and do good to those who “persecute” us or “mistreat” us, the “victim” has to examine their own heart. We definitely must be guided by the love of God in us; I mean UNCONDITIONAL love. And this does not go with pride.
    In the case of violence, very often both sides feel victims of the other.
    In every and each situation, we have a choice to make; we have the opportunity to become more like Jesus.
    Easy to say!
    For this, it’s crucial to get a good relationship with our Father, so that His nature becomes our nature; and our thinking and feeling start to change; and our vision will be so much better.
    It’s up to us.
    We should never forget that we are not allowed to judge because we don’t know someone else’s heart (and we don’t like being judged either, right?).
    I was married to a non-Christian husband who cheated on me. And as I was crying out to God to change his heart and so on, look what God said to me:
    “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite! First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matt.7).
    I was shocked! (“What? I don’t have to change! I do not do anything wrong! He is the one who cheats…”)
    And the Lord told me to ask for forgiveness about my own attitude and leave my husband’s attitude to Him who is the right judge.
    It was not easy I have to admit, but as I obeyed, my husband -who was very surprised- changed and started to look at me differently.
    It is not about who is right or wrong, but about who wants the relationship to get better…
    If it seems to be too much, we must find a good counsellor to help us to calm down and communicate again.
    May the Lord help all of us. He wants us to have good relationships.

  49. TVHD Reply

    I’ve been married for five year’s to a man who was married three times (I’m number 4)… he has 7 children from five different women. He had not paid his taxes in ten years and was in child support arrears. I quickly got the taxes filed; helped him make contact with child support and on with life we went. He is a truck driver (a durn good one) I went on the road with him for 3 or more months…no drinking…life was good. He tired of being cross country after I took ill and found a local trucking job. I saw the red flags but ignored them. I noticed that he never checked the mail or asked what needed to be paid. If I tried to engage with him about bills he would bark at me. He refused to attend services at church…attend social events with me that didn’t involve his family. So, since I had retired i cooked, cleaned, made sure he had clean uniforms and made sure i didn’t look the same way I looked whenever; he came home.When I was feeling o.k I would attend his family functions and he would infrequently attend mine. My family is from the Midwest and close relatives in Mississippi. When he wasn’t drinking he was awesome. When we met he wasn’t….so I saw his heart. He even quit drinking for a little over a month! I never complained “much” about the drinking except when he would pop one open before 9am without eating; but, i soon stopped that to because he barked so loud about it. He has NEVER raised a finger to strike me however; in the five years of marriage his tongue smacked me regularly. My two grown son’s soon became weary of the way he treated me but, I forbed them to discuss it with him…that was my job; that’s where I failed….i set no boundaries….smh. God forgive me…From the beginning I noticed that he liked hanging out with his drinking buddies…no problem for me. He always came home. A little over a week ago he left home at 4pm. I got up at midnight and he still wasn’t home. I called him….no answer? I realized that it was the 1st and so his phone was off. I paid the bill and then proceeded to try to reach him; 1am…2am….3am…i started checking police reports etc. I was very worried that since he would often drink and drive something had happened…4am…..5am…6am…then finally at about 6 he drives up! Elated…I begin thanking God he is o.k., and begin praying not to say something I’d be sorry for later. He comes in as I’m still silently praying. He stands next to me saying nothing….almost, like a shell or ghost of a man. I suppose he may have seen my note on the bathroom mirror stating that we needed to talk as it was after 2am; but, not sure if he saw it at all. After about 1 to 2 minutes he left. Got in his car and drove away…..having not said one word to me?….i didn’t hear from him again until 8:30 pm. He called and said, “hey babe”…. me, hey honey…where are you..he replied “driving around, i have no where to go”….at that point i suppose i was expected to say…why honey, you have a home…come home; but, i didn’t because he never offered explanation or apology for being gone all night. He said…”I just realized my phone was on” …. with that I said, we need to talk and I believe separation is necessary and please come by and pick up some of your things…let me know when you are here because i had the locks changed after not hearing from you. He said, “o.k.”…. next day I had a surgical procedure and as I nestled into bed…he calls me to say he was ready to pick up his things. I asked where he was and he said he was outside. I got up and let him in and laid back down. He asked sheepishly “how are you feeling after noticing the hospital bracelet etc….but, not once did he say…im sorry….nothing. He eventually loads his vehicle….leaves and I have not heard from him in over a week. When he was packing his undergarments I got up and gently mentioned…honey…it’s a separation not a divorce….he said nothing…..smh… It is noteworthy that when i met him I was a widow and had purchased my home after the death of my husband of 30 years. When he came into my life I was still working but edging close to my 34 year retirement. I had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2006. I met my present husband 4 years after my husband died. I have no appearance of disability…however…Im embarrassed to say I had no libido …my husband 7 years younger eventually said….it’s ok…i know how to take care of me. Note, I never denied him but I never initiated… About, 3 weeks ago…I prayed for libido ….bingo!!! When we were in bed I reached over to initiate…he barked “what are you doing?”…yikes!!! Oh well…I’ve not heard from him. I must sale the house because his license was suspended several months ago for the child support arrears and we were very far behind. Crazy isn’t it…. i still love my husband but, my lack of boundaries has resulted in a marriage bound for an end…My Pastor said, “I should never regret loving”… How can you work things out with soneone who will not talk to you? What should I suppose happened the night he came home? What should i do going foward? Oh God…. if not for you…I would faint….please let me know where I went wrong and where do you believe I need to go from here?

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      I would seek a counselor to help you through this. You can’t reconcile with someone who won’t talk to you.

  50. Monique Reply

    Mr. Thompson,
    Thank you for this article. It was definitely one I can relate too. My husband and I have been married for six years and together for eight. We have two kids, five and one year old. Over the past four years, our relationship has been a rollercoaster. We have had amazing times together, but also very very dark ones. I feel like our relationship is shallow. It almost feels forced and unauthentic. Today, we still have a difficult time understanding each other. We barley ever argue, but when we have an issue, it’s NEVER discussed, because my husband will of have it. He can’t have a face to face conversation, with me, regarding our issue. He’d prefer to text me his thoughts while laying in bed with him. Im a sucker for love and affection, and the ONLY time I get any from him is when we’re engaging in sex. When I show him emotion, he distances himself, and tenses up, as if he doesn’t want me in his personal space. We can communicate about EVERYTHING you except us. It feels like we’re co-existing. I’ve shut down, and I keep conversation to a minimum. I’m just so frustrated with the lack of emotion, attention and love that I receive. I’ve been dealing with this for YEARS. I’ve had moments when I wanted to give up. We’ve been to counselors and we’re back in this same place. I’ve recently asked if he’d like to try counseling again and he said that he wasn’t interested because it doesn’t work. I know that post-baby #1, he shared that he was unattracted to me because of my pregnancy weight gain. It broke my heart. I’m just out of options with this marriage. It breaks my heat to even think about splitting up my family, but I just want a partner who’s willing love me and it just say it. It’s just so sad because I genuinely love him. I always ensure that he has what he needs and I feel pushed away.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Monique, I would see couples counseling. It’s imperative that the two of you learn how to communicate.

  51. Henry (Hank) Reply

    I’ve been married to my wife just over 30 years. We raised 2 great children. Somewhere along the line she gave me reason to question her faithfulness to our marriage. Never caught her outright but so many red flags. She showed all the signs but never had any concrete evidence. She began to belittle me, insult me in front of friends and he demeanor towards me went to one of almost anger. My children moved out and it seemed that I became her target. I talked, or tried to about all of this and she blame shifted. I worked full time, owned a construction business on the side so I could afford her a nice life. I hated to come home because of all the negativity. We tried counseling and she never liked any of the counsellors. I’d make her coffee and say, “good morning” her reply? “Well maybe for you it is…” She had totally crushed me to a point where now I just coexist with her. I find myself not caring about her at all. I look for every and any excuse to leave the house. To be honest I thought about checking her computer and cell for affair related info then I thought no, it may be better this way because maybe she will just decide to leave me. How have I become such a shell of the man I once was? I’ve been beaten to this point. Some days I actually contemplate if I should just end it. Then I was junk of my girls and get my head in gear and get through another day. I’ve never cheated, never desired another woman. I was always a good man to her, a good husband and a great father. I’ve even done so much for her family over the years to help them out. Where do I go from here? I’m 53 years old and the last 5-7 years have put me through the ringer. I have a good many years left and don’t want to waste another day.

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