The Critical Error Husbands Make That Push Their Wives Far, Far Away

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I know many who men feel like they make stupid mistakes every day in their relationships, and usually they are very minor. Women make them, too, after all. 

But most of these men don't realize that there is one critical error husbands make that pushes their wives away — an error that takes the marriage to a dark place. They often don't even realize they're doing it. 

This ‘error’ is quite common among men, and because it’s something they might not notice, they might not see that it’s having such a big effect on their wives.

The one critical error men make that destroys relationships? Shutting down.

What do I mean by shutting down? I mean becoming emotionally withdrawn, not being present in any given situation. For some, it means being incapable of making any connection with someone, no matter how small.

This is not uncommon in men. I believe it’s because men are not well-practiced in the skill of sharing their emotions. For us women, we are conditioned to process emotions 2/47. As a result, when confronted with some issue, we immediately contact someone to help us process it.

Men internalize issues that come up in their lives. These things can be very hard to discuss, whether it’s work, health, finances, or relationships.

Instead of reaching out for support, they turn inward and try to process what is happening on their own.

Men shutting down can make their wives quick to anger, affect their sex life, and cause their wives to make the kids the priority. It might even make their wives look for someone else, someone who doesn’t shut down.

So why is shutting down the number one critical error husbands make that pushes their wives away, and what can be done to prevent this from happening? Let me share!

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Five ways men can prevent themselves from ruining the marriage by shutting down

1. Make your wife feel included.

If there is one thing that all women love, it’s to be a part of what is going on. Women are naturally curious about what is happening in the lives of people they care about, particularly their husbands. When these people are struggling, they want to understand what is happening and work with their loved ones to help them figure out how to work through it.

If their husband shuts down, and tries to hide what is happening or pretend that nothing is going on, that can make a woman feel shut out. More than anything, she wants her husband to be happy, and if she has no idea how to help them sort through whatever is going on, she might eventually stop trying and not be there if and when he does start to open up.

So, if you are struggling with something and feel yourself shutting down, I would encourage you to be honest with your wife and tell her what is happening. To share with her instead of excluding her. To make her feel like you need her to help you work through whatever issues present themselves.

Doing so will prevent your wife from turning away from you and keep your marriage strong.

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2. Make your wife feel loved.

Many women's love languages are quality time and words of affirmation. They want their husbands to spend time with them and to be present with them when they do so. They want to hear from their husbands how much they love and want to be with them.

When their husband is shut down, neither of these things happens. When men are shut down, they tend to isolate themselves. They are struggling and don’t know what to do, so they pull back from their wives. They spend more time at the gym or work or in their rooms on their phones.

Instead of interacting with their wives and giving them quality time and words of affirmation, they disappear, leaving their wives feeling abandoned and unloved.

And if your wife doesn’t feel loved, the relationship can dry up quickly. And probably the first thing to go will be the sex. No woman wants sex with someone who doesn’t make them feel loved.

So, don't shut her out even if you are struggling with something. Make sure you give your wife the love and affection she craves.

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3. Be trustworthy, so your wife feels safe with you.

Imagine having a friend you knew wasn’t acting like themselves. They used to be happy, involved, active, and fun, but now they are shut down, depressed, and secretive.

Imagine if you asked them what was wrong and they refused to tell you. No matter how hard you try, they aren’t willing to open up about what is happening.

How would you feel about them?  Might you start to wonder if you can trust them if they are perhaps hiding something from you?

I can promise you that your wife will feel the exact same way if you have pulled back. Her mind might go to the worst-case scenario.

Maybe you are fooling around. Or that your job is at risk. Or that you are having a hard time managing the family’s finances or that you aren’t telling them something big because you don’t want them to know.

Because you are shut down and not forthcoming, your wife might stop trusting you. Because you aren’t sharing what is happening, then perhaps you have something to hide. And, without trust, a relationship is DOA.

So, instead of shutting down, I would encourage you to go out on a limb and share with your partner what is ailing you. If you can be honest with her, no matter how big the issue is, I can promise that she won’t pull away but will instead lean in, happy that she can trust you to tell her the truth.

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4. Make your wife feel seen.

I remember back in the day when my husband would come home after a hard day at work; he would head straight to the mail pile. He would quickly go through it, sorting through what was his. He would take those things to his office, go to the bedroom, get changed, and then head out for a run.

When he returned, he would shower, join the family for dinner and then disappear into his office to do more work. This didn’t bother me at first. I knew that work was hard and that sometimes he needed space to process what was happening.

But, as the years went on and this became a pattern, that he would come home, barely acknowledge me, and go about his evening as if he was alone in the house, I felt increasingly unseen and unloved.

I felt abandoned and lonely. So, I started turning toward my friends instead of my husband. They saw me; they appreciated my presence in their lives. They didn’t make me feel alone in the house as they processed whatever was happening in their heads.

Eventually, I completely pulled away from him, and soon after, our marriage ended. So know that if you shut down and don’t let your wife know that you see her, your marriage will suffer, and you will regret not giving her the attention she deserves instead of shutting down.

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5. Make her part of your team, and let her know you appreciate her role.

When you got married, did you not, up there in front of your friends and family, swear to your wife-to-be that you would always be by her side, ‘in sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer, until death do you part’ (or some version of that?).

And that’s what marriage is — two people working together to build a life, perhaps raise a family, support each other and love each other.

Imagine you were at work, and your co-worker came in every morning, crabby and silent. Imagine that you had to work with this person every day and had projects you needed to take on together and issues to work through. Imagine if your co-worker participated but only in the most surface-level way.

How frustrating would that be?

So it is in marriage. If you are shut down and only call it in with whatever needs to be taken care of, you are going to alienate your wife in a big way.

Marriage, life, family, careers, and all of the other stuff we juggle daily are a lot of work. And, if a woman feels like she can’t count on you to be a part of the team, that you can’t be relied on to help her manage it all, I can promise you that your wife will push away from you, stop expecting that you will help in any way.

So, do you now understand why the one critical error that husbands make that pushes their wives away is to shut down on them?

Instead of shutting down on your wife, I would encourage you to use your words and explain what is going on. Ideally, you would explain your situation to her your issue and work with her to resolve it. 

If she knows that you know that you are being shut down, she is way more likely to be patient with you, to stay with you, knowing that the man she loves will come back to her sooner or later.

You can do it. It might be hard, but it will be away easier than divorce!

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Mitzi Bockmann is a certified life and relationship coach. She has over 10 years of experience helping people find happiness in life and love.