Faith Therapy: Starving for Attention
Saving Marriage: How Do I Get Attention from my Wife and Save my Marriage?
Q: My wife and I, both in our late 20s, have been married for three years, and I have yet to experience emotional intimacy with her. She experienced extreme violence in her childhood home and often had to fend for herself as the only child of a single mother. While she was clothed, fed, and educated, she was not groomed for healthy connections with others as she often lacks empathy. This has also been noticed by her closest girlfriends.
I am the product of a close-knit, affectionate, and celebratory family, and I crave that kind of connection with my wife. I feel as though I am literally starving for her to even acknowledge my needs, let alone actually fulfill them. I cannot go on this way. What can I do to reconcile the seemingly irreconcilable differences between us, particularly since we have an infant son?
A: It’s hard to believe that these traits of your wife were not noticed during the courtship since they appear to be so engrained. If you thought things would change after marriage, you are now learning this is not the case. It certainly is common at this stage of your marriage to realize that you overlooked some big issue that happens to strike at one of your core needs or wants.
As a covenant relationship, marriage often pulls individuals together from different camps so-to-speak in order to create an “air-tight” oneness between two people that makes them stronger than they could be apart. So for you, your gift may be ease in emotional connection; for your wife it may be the gift of perseverance through emotional challenges. Your strength will help her to take her feelings out of hiding, and her strength will help you to withstand the emotional upheavals that life inevitably brings and increase your tolerance of others unlike you.
There is great potential for your relationship that will take prayer, counseling, patience, understanding, and appreciation to nurture along. You are young in your marriage, and the great tendency today is to cut and run at the first major hurdle. Since you picked your wife from all the rest, there must have been something powerfully attractive about her that is worth nurturing and vice versa.
Probably the most efficient way to bring about change in her is to first accept her for who she is and where she is TODAY while inviting God into the equation to break barriers between you and create emotional intimacy. Acceptance is often the gateway to change.