Q. My first marriage ended because we drifted apart. Now my second wife is turning away from me. She hasn’t said anything but she’s always busy and we don’t have the fun or companionship we had during the first two years of our marriage. What causes a couple to drift apart and become distant?
A. Marriage is an intimate relationship. In order for a marriage to work couples need to connect with each other in a deeper way than they do in most other relationships. They need to get below the surface of superficial small talk and be open with each other. Couples who drift apart do so because they find many ways to avoid intimacy. Below is a list of some of the ways we avoid intimacy.
1. Don’t talk. This is the most basic rule for avoiding closeness. If you must talk, don’t talk about anything important. Talk about the weather or sports.
2. Don’t show your feelings. If you express any sadness, happiness, irritation or caring you’re revealing your inner self. If you show no feelings you will give a clear message that you don’t want to be intimate.
3. Keep smiling, especially if something is bothering you. Hide all negative feelings from your partner. This way your partner will believe that everything is okay in your relationship and you won’t have to be intimate.
4. Keep busy. Work long hours so you can avoid spending time with your partner. Always have chores or activities you need to do so there’s no time for the two of you to spend together. This will give your spouse the message that he or she is not as important to you as your work or other interests and will definitely help you avoid intimacy.
5. Always be right. Never admit you’re wrong. If you admit you’re wrong you will be at risk of admitting you’re human. This also could lead to you admitting your partner is right and that his or her viewpoint needs to be considered. Before you know it you’ll be on verge of being intimate.
6. Don’t disagree. If you disagree you may discover you and your partner are different. This may lead to you talking about the differences and having to make adjustments. As a result you may have to tell your partner who you really are and what you really feel. This could lead to intimacy.
7. Don’t tell your partner what you want. Make your partner guess what you want. Then when your partner guesses wrong you can tell your partner they don’t understand you or love you or they would know what you want without asking. This will prevent intimacy and also drive your partner crazy.
8. Look out for yourself. Think of yourself as number one. Do whatever you feel like doing without consulting your partner. Think of yourself as okay and your partner as not okay.
9. Keep the television turned on. Keep the TV on during meals and while you’re talking. Watching TV will prevent you and your partner from talking to each other. It will also keep you from noticing that you don’t communicate.
10. Avoid all show of affection. Don’t give hugs, kisses, say “I love you.” Don’t show any appreciation or give any praise to your partner. Keep sex as matter of fact and quick as possible.
To have a closer marriage, do the opposite of these ten ways to avoid intimacy. If you grew up in a family that avoided connecting, these changes may feel risky. Make small changes and keep working on it over a period of time.
“Let love and faithfulness never leave you.” Proverbs 3:3