When a spouse is physically present but emotionally unavailable and mentally “out to lunch,” the partner will feel the difference.

Something important is missing, and what is missing is the spouse’s full attention to the conversation or activity. Often, the distracted spouse is feeling rushed, bored, impatient, or stressed.

When that happens, the natural tendency is to constantly mentally leap ahead to the next items on the “to do” list.

If this describes you, then you are missing the experience you’re having right now—you’re focusing instead on what you’re going to do next. By living in the future, you miss the present.

Not being fully present when you’re interacting with your mate is one of the biggest roadblocks to intimacy. And, over time, the feeling of disconnection between the two of you can grow and intensify. In the extreme, the relationship may spiral down to the point where marriage separation is discussed.

There’s a quote by Mary Catherwood that sums up what happens: “Two may talk together under the same roof for many years, yet never really meet.”

This is the tragedy that often results in marriage crisis—but you can avoid this by giving your partner the gift of being fully present

Questions: Is your spouse buried with overwork or something else that prevents giving you emotional support or engagement? Is there an addiction that steals energy from the marriage?

Reflection: In many societies around the world, men traditionally are raised to not show feelings. But in today’s world, many traditions and customs are changing, including the acceptance for men to acknowledge and express emotions. So it’s not unrealistic to expect  that a husband can learn to do a better job expressing his feelings.

--By Nancy Wasson, Ph.D.