She left the house, took the car, and I thought she was never coming back. How did we get here? What did I miss? We’d just had a baby. Our daughter was healthy, happy, and clung to me. I was knee-deep in chores, ensuring all of our family’s physical needs were met. But in doing so, I had overlooked something fundamental: my wife’s emotional well-being. I didn’t know what postpartum meant, and I thought the more I took off her plate, the better she would feel—just the opposite. It caused emotional distance. The more I took, the more she felt unwanted and abandoned.
It was never my intention to hurt my wife. But sometimes, even when we’re trying to help, we make our wives feel unseen, misunderstood, or abandoned. Here are 4 ways you might be abandoning your wife without realizing it.
1. Being an Ear, Not a Heart
We’ve all been there, nodding while our minds wander off. When our wives talk to us, they’re not always seeking answers. Sometimes, they just need us to be present and truly listen. They don’t need us to go off and fix something. You probably prefer to tackle a tangible challenge because you can see the results. Yet, your spouse’s emotional cues that she is in need may be subtle. She might spend more time alone or bring up random topics about other couples. Pick up on those cues, put the dishes down, look her in the eyes, and listen. Repeat what she said to hear her concerns out loud in your own voice and start practicing the art of “heart listening.” It’s not about the ears. It’s about making sure she feels seen and valued.In marriage, presence is more than just physical proximity; it’s emotional engagement.
2. Dodging the Shared Load
On the other hand, your relationship might be missing the manual labor on your part. Remember that time you promised to share the load, be it house chores or handling the finances? You’re dropping the ball if you often side-step these promises. It’s like when my daughter promises to clean her room but conveniently forgets. It’s frustrating, and it can be particularly frustrating for wives who work full-time. They may feel the strain of the “second shift,” having to handle all the domestic responsibilities after they get off work.
Ask and seek to understand her stress points. It’s not about splitting everything down the middle but ensuring she doesn’t feel alone. Also, share your stress points. I know many men who work this “second shift” and muscle through, never sharing the emotional weight it creates.
3. Pushing Her Needs to the Sidelines
It’s easy to get caught up in our wants and needs, sidelining what our spouse requires. From simple gestures like choosing a movie she likes to more significant decisions like planning a vacation that caters to her interests, every act of prioritizing her showcases the love and respect you have for her. Ignoring her needs or constantly putting yours first will make her feel like an afterthought rather than a priority and widen emotional distance between you two.
4. Neglecting Quality Time
When did you last sit with your wife and talk over a glass of wine without mentioning your kids? When did you last have truly quality time? If you constantly find reasons to skip date nights, delay shared hobbies, or spend free hours with friends or on personal pursuits rather than with her, it sends a subtle message that she isn’t worth your time. Shared experiences keep the spark alive and strengthen the bond in a marriage. Ignoring or delaying these moments can gradually create a chasm of emotional disconnect. So, cherish those moments, whether it’s by watching a sunset together, trying out a new recipe, or simply having a coffee chat on a lazy Sunday morning. In marriage, presence is more than just physical proximity; it’s emotional engagement.
Sound off: What are some other ways we can cause emotional distance with our wives?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your wife and ask, “What’s one thing you wish I would do more often?”