Photo: Nicoleta Ionescu

By Doug

We picked up a book that was recommended by one of our readers just last week:  “How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It” by Patricia Love, Ed.D., and Steven Stosny, Ph.D.  It’s a very nice read, by the way, and centers around the premise that love is NOT about better communication, but it’s more about connection.

Some of the points that are made in the book are similar in scope to those that John Gray makes in his book, “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus.”  Basically, men and women communicate and connect in different ways.

Three statements made by the authors sum this up nicely:  (1) “You’ll never get a closer relationship with your man by talking to him like you talk to your girlfriends.” (2) “There are four ways to connect with a man:  touch, activity, sex routine.”  And (3) “When men feel connected, they talk more.”

There is a section in the book that deals with infidelity that I wanted to touch on more though.

Basically the authors stress that commitment to the relationship is paramount (there is a short quiz in the book that tests your commitment) and that your overall attitude reflects the strength of your commitment to a happy, healthy relationship.

I loved this statement in the book:  “If you do not consistently shine the light of your soul on your relationship, it can die without you ever talking about it.”  Paste that in your brain right now.  This really hit home as this one sentence pretty much sums up what happened to Linda and I a few years ago – we didn’t consistently shine the light of our souls on our relationship – and we failed to talk about it!

See also  Our Week of Trials and Tribulations

By not being emotionally involved in the relationship, it becomes deprived and the life becomes drained from it and there is a disconnection between the partners – often leading to infidelity.

What is Commitment in a Marriage?

Here are some clues that are often cited in marriages that drain the life from the relationship. 

How many of the following were (are) present in your marriage?  I know several were in ours.

Kids involved in too many activities.  Research shows that involving children in more than two activities per week can put undue stress on the child and on the family.  These activities should be limited.

Over-involved with work.  You need to just quit at the end of the day and pick up where you left off the next day.  Try to make contact with your spouse during the day either by phone or at lunch.  The authors suggest that you invite your spouse to lunch with co-workers which helps them to become friends of your marriage.

Consumer spending.  A never-ending work and spend cycle deprives the relationship of energy.

Addicted to intensity.  One can become addicted to living life in the fast lane – either at work or through other aspects of your daily schedule.  Stress is increased, which in turn increases self-centeredness and disconnection.

Ignoring family and friends.  Old friends and family remind us of who we are (our history) and where our commitments lie.

Ignoring enriching activities.  When you ignore the hobbies, cultural activities and entertainment there is a void created where unwanted activities take on too much importance.  Enriching activities can infuse a relationship with energy when enjoyed together.

See also  Why Men and Women Cheat - Sexual Anxiety and Personality

Spiritual neglect.  Having standards to uphold keeps us grounded and reminds us of our values and commitments.  Attending worship services with your spouse and family is important to strengthening the relationships with them.

No physical exercise.  You don’t feel your best and have little energy when you neglect your body.

No sex.  Not having sex leaves a huge hole in your relationship.

No romance.  Romance is real proof that one is special and is loved.  When romance fades, so does interest.

No exclusive attention, no demand for attention.  Your commitment to your relationship requires that you not ignore your partner and that you not let your partner ignore you.

Zoning out with food and TV.  Nothing wrong with these in moderation, but if it’s your primary source of pleasure it can reinforce distance and holds love at bay.

Another great quote from the book:  “The opposite of love is not hate – it’s indifference.”  Indifference can kill a relationship!  It can cause such a disconnection that can lead to each partner leading separate lives under the same roof, infidelity, and can ultimately lead to divorce.

However, if you feel discomfort and pain from this disconnection, it can mean that you still want to be connected, that you still love each other and there is hope for the future of your relationship. The key is to deepen and strengthen the connection that you both want and make it as powerful as it can be.


    19 replies to "Deprivation, Disconnection and Indifference"

    • Lesli Doares

      Another great post. Infidelity is less about sex than it is about connection or, more to the point, lack thereof. I don’t know anything that thrives on neglect but that is what happens in many marriages. Paying attention to your relationship and acting with loving intention towards your partner are key to long term success.

    • Saddenned

      This is a great post. Today my husband left a voicemail at work, just to say he loved me. He didn’t have to do that, but it made all the difference in the world to me today. It is nice to know you are thought about even when you are not around.

      I still have trust issues, but I know our intimacy is far better both emotionally and physically than it was before D-Day. It was a wake up call for both of us and both of us weren’t innocent in our marriage.

    • Paula

      I wish the intimacy and strong connection we always had, which was strengthened for the first two years post D-Day, had stuck around. I was a very sexual person, but now I just feel revolted by my body, and his, and conversely, I’m incredibly sexually frustrated. Work to do! Pretty sick of work, I just wanna have some fun, the pain is etched all over my face. I used to be a very youthful 43, people would be amazed when they heard I had already well and truly celebrated my 40th – oh yeah, with the OW as a guest, yay! – and now I look in the mirror and see an old woman looking back at me, with no twinkle in her eye, and poor colour.

    • blueskyabove

      I downloaded the book to my IPad (what a wonderful invention when you are seeking help) after seeing the recommendation posted here and found it to be very helpful. My H is currently in the process of reading it and has said he has found it to be one of the most informative books he has read.

      Doug – How come you glossed over one of the more important aspects the authors wrote about? They repeatedly talked about fear and shame and how it affects relationships…and they weren’t talking about infidelity either. It was more than just an overall attitude. It was very specific. The information they shared regarding these vulnerabilities was an incredible eye-opener for both of us.

      It was also rather refreshing to hear that maybe we aren’t such poor communicators afterall.

      • Doug

        Hey Bluesky, I was wondering if someone who has read the book would call me on the carpet about not addressing the fear and shame aspect since it’s pretty much the major focus of the book. Actually, Linda was going to write something on that at a later date. We both felt it very interesting and wanted to address it as a subject all by itself. BTW…I think most men will like this book! 😉

        • blueskyabove

          Thanks for the reply. I’m looking forward to reading Linda’s take on it.

          • Doug

            blueskyabove, I am still reading the book. It has taken me much longer than usual, mainly because of the content. I feel that I need to read it again to fully understand everything. It was very enlightening and I can understand how both of our behaviors affected our marriage. I believe the fear and shame concept is right on target. However I can’t help thinking that is was definitely present before the affair, think about its implications after the affair. I know my feelings of fear are over the top as well as Doug’s sense of shame, what does a couple do to combat this? Are the suggestions in the book enough? I would be interested in your perceptive on the book. Linda

    • Notoverit

      “However, if you feel discomfort and pain from this disconnection, it can mean that you still want to be connected, that you still love each other and there is hope for the future of your relationship. The key is to deepen and strengthen the connection that you both want and make it as powerful as it can be.”

      THAT was, to me, the most important part of this post. I have sat and wondered sometimes about why are we bothering? Do we still love each other? This quote gave me hope. I keep thinking why else would we be going through all this pain if we didn’t still care for each other. This statement made me feel a lot better. Thanks!

    • LJK

      I don’t know where to go with this observation/question, but it really seems somewhat related to this post so here goes…does anyone else feel “responsible” for their husband’s EA? I don’t feel like I can take any blame for his actions (HE made the decision (without including me) to go outside of the marriage to have his needs met), but I do feel that I share some of the responsibility for it. We had really become roomates only. We had not had sex for 1 1/2 years and I never talked to him about it or questioned it. He even moved out of the bedroom for awhile, blaming it on my snoring. At that point, I had some suspicions, but I honestly didn’t know if I cared if there was someone else. If I had been more attentive to the marriage, this may not have happened. So I feel I bear some responsibility, but no blame. Does that make sense?

      • Doug

        LJK, Thanks for posting your comment. This post and the comments to it might be helpful for you:

      • battleborn


        I had to laugh a little because of the snoring excuse partly because it reminded me of my CS’ explantion for his sleeping in the other bedroom. In my case, it was partly true… I do snore. LOL! But your or my snoring or lack of communication did not force him to seel outside comfort. He chose to do that himself.

        An affair is in itself is a separate action.Your CS made the choice to enter into the affair and he made a second choice to continue it. You cannot let yourself accept any responsiblity for his indescretions.

        The lack of communication is symptom, not a “cause.” You (and probably all of us) can accept that we had a hand in that. Communication is a symptom we all need to work on. Until both parties accept their role in that nothing can be accomplished. But the CS needs to work with us because the BS cannot do it alone.

        So to asnswer your question, yes I felt partially responsible for his affair when I first found out. However, as time has passed I realize that I do not have any responsiblity for his affair. My responsibility stops at the symptoms, for the rest he is on his own.

    • Nate

      My story/question kind of relates to this post and site as a whole.

      We’re a young married couple, married 3.5 years. 2 kids, a 2 year old and 4 month old. I love my wife and children. Recently, she had contact with an ex-bf through facebook. He lives in another city. She has remained “friends” with most of her ex-bfs, there just hasn’t really been contact to my knowledge throughout our marriage/relationship.

      I just happened to notice a recent message from him on facebook when her page was still logged in. I feel bad for the intrusion of privacy and snooping, but I got curious after seeing it was recent. I read through it and in all honesty, it was innocent. Friendly type stuff. But my curiosity was piqued. She was confiding in him about a dream she had and didn’t want to bring up with me for fear of a bad reaction. It hurt she didn’t want to talk to me, but I can understand why.

      Again, I’m admitting some of my part in this, but I was on her email (competing in a fantasy football league with her and her family, so I’m on it for that) and I see a notification of a new message between them. So I read. The conversation turns a little more to how they still think about each other. He’s a lawyer and she is now teaching an LSAT class. She says she’s been thinking about him a lot lately since chatting and that she’s going back to being a crazy girl and obsessive and that he brings it out in her. And she asks in what way he thinks about her.

      I catch an email a few days later that it’s hard for him not to think about her romantically/sexually after their past. Admittedly, I turned in to an untrusting snoop and was obsessive about finding out what was going on. As of these conversations, she had mentioned nothing of t heir contact.

      I was hurt. Big time. And she came clean and apologized for not having told me about talking to him and that he was just a friend.

      To me, these interactions crossed a line of friendship. My question for those of you on here, who I’m sure have dealt with extreme hurt and betrayal, is if I’m overreacting and should just g et over it or do I have a right to be hurt and a little untrusting?

      I won’t say I’m faultless. Over the past 6 months or so, we’ve drifted apart a little, just out of laziness in our relationship. I had done very little to make her know I think she’s wonderful and special (she really is a great wife).

      I think her contact with him when we were in this tough time is part of what hurts. I feel like she was looking for someone to make her feel special. Am I to blame?

      I don’t know that I’d call this an emotional affair. It was relatively short lived and not overly involved. Am I blowing it out of proportion? I’m scared to be a controlling husband and ask her not to be friends with an ex. (admittedly, I just read an article on t his site about rekindling old love that frightened me).

      Any advice/answers would be greatly appreciated. I need help.

      • Doug

        Nate, I don’t think you are blowing it out of proportion, I believe that you are very fortunate that you were able to discuss and bring it out in the open before it got out of hand. I also believe you are accurate in knowing that you have drifted apart and you both are feeling vulnerable. It is difficult not to when you have two young children at home. I suggest that you use this as an opportunity to communicate how you are feeling about your marriage. I am sure that you both miss the connection that you once had, miss time alone with each other. I believe the best course of action is to try to do some of the things you used to do before children and really discuss what each of you need from each other . Communication is the key, don’t let it get out of hand without really discussing what is happening in your marriage. Linda

      • Holding On

        It sounds like it could have easily moved to more and more communication, then emails, calls, texts. My H’s EA started on FB with a former college friend, similar to this. I agree with InTrouble and Linda, but also think it is a great time to talk about boundaries with people of the opposite sex. That you both share with each other if there is any messaging/chatting with people of the opposite sex so that there isn’t any secrets between you. Also, a frank discussion on things that are inappropriate to share with others. They were talking about how they thought about each other, that seems pretty inappropriate and a step into dangerous territory. A candid discussion on guarding your heart and your marriage with others and then maybe a candid discussion/plan to revamp your marriage.

        Good luck!

    • Briana @ 20 and Engaged

      Great points. Looks like I’ll have to read the book. I never want to become indifferent, so the best way to avoid that is prevention.

    • InTrouble

      Nate — I think it looks dangerous. Trust me, she’s looking to fill in a blank somewhere. Take Linda’s advice about communication. Come right out and ask her how she’s feeling about your relationship right now. Even if she says everything is fine, this is a really good time to lavish attention, affection, and compliments on her. Moms want to feel like loved and sexy women too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.