Dear Dr. Love,I have for 21 years tried to prompt my husband to emotionally connect with me. After years of telling him what was missing in our relationship with lack of connectedness, etc. , and attempts to get his attention with gestures, invites for emotional connection, going out for dinner, holding hands at movies, or in public, or even in the car when we were together, I have felt so alone and unconnected with my husband.I have no other relationship at all with any other man, but left after all this time, because of lack of intimacy. I need connectedness with my life partner, and I need to give, and receive love, and emotional intimacy as well as physical intimacy.I have felt very alone for years. Do I deserve happiness with someone out there who has the ability to connect, and have an emotional awareness that they can share, and be shared with, for a happier heart connected life?RJ
The fact that you ask me if you deserve connection tells me that you grew up without it. This explains why you aren’t sure that you deserve it and why you chose a partner who doesn’t give it to you.You are absolutely entitled to feel connected to your husband. I don’t know why he isn’t connecting with you. I have the sense that he may not know how. If so, then doing couples therapy with a modern analytically trained therapist is a good place for him to learn how to connect emotionally with you.I have the sense that he may also be angry with you. Here’s how I think the problem has evolved. He has a ‘skill deficit. ‘ You pointed out the deficit and told him over and over what he wasn’t doing right. No matter how correct you were, he felt angry to have his flaws pointed out. His anger made him less willing to give to you, so that you ended up getting less and less connection from him instead of more.If I am right and he is expressing anger by withholding connection, one way to break the cycle is for you to get your connection elsewhere. A good place for you to connect is in group therapy. As your tank gets filled, you won’t feel so needy. When you don’t need feeding from him, he will no longer be able to release his anger by not giving you conection.When the withholding pattern is no longer gratifying to him (releasing his anger in this way is a form of gratification) the pattern should stop and he should be more willing to give connection to you. Then and only then will he be more willing to learn how to do just that.Let me know how you do.