Your avoidant wife isn’t a bitch.
She’s not…against you, not your enemy, and not your adversary.
She’s also not holding out on you or keeping distant from you because of deep childhood wounds.
It’s not her daddy issues, a controlling mother, or unaddressed pain in her life.
Those things have certainly played a unique part in her life. However, they’re not the cause of the distance, anger, and nastiness toward you.
She’s not defective. You believing these things about her, though… That’s making her believe you see her that way!
I know what it’s like. I’ve been where you are. I’ve learned some ancient truths about this. These things about her are not why you lack the deep, passionate, emotional affection and intimacy you desire. You are.
Ouch! WTF Sven?
Listen… I get it, brother… I thought I had an avoidant wife, too. Hearing that would have seemed like a punch in the gut.
I would have said and felt the same a few short years ago. I believed, like you probably do, that the longings I had always experienced in life – longings for deep, passionate, emotional, romantic, close, and affectionate relating… that those were just not coming to me.
I was convinced my wife was holding out on me or incapable of being that person. Either way, something had to be done because I just couldn’t take it anymore. Not only was I not getting what I wanted, but I was also getting a whole lotta not nice to go with it.
Talking about it with her made it worse, and I was completely exasperated. The harder I tried, the worse it got! She was no less an avoidant wife for all my talking about it.
I felt I had no emotional connection. Passion was meh, I received little to no affection.
Maybe it’s my desire?
Time felt like it was running out. My growing sense of dissatisfaction increased my sense of urgency to see these things.
I’d feel like, “she’s either got to start kicking it up a few notches, or I’m not sure I can continue.” I value marriage and was against divorce. This avoidant wife business troubled me deeply and pushed me to despair.
As I mentioned, talking to my wife about my desire for connection and depth never went well. Wasn’t this supposed to be what a woman wants? Yet, somehow it would turn into me, making her feel like she was a horrible person and never good enough. I quickly learned to shut my mouth because the juice wasn’t worth the squeeze. Hostility seemed to abound wherever and whenever I tried to surface my feelings and desire for more connection!
I tried to just numb those desires, as many men do. I soon realized I was just numbing all of my desires. The heart isn’t compartmentalized. Trying to kill off one part while being alive in the other just didn’t work. I was just left with no passion for anything. Work, family, recreation? Zilch. What a terrible existence that was!
I pondered a change in my convictions. Couldn’t I just get divorced? Of course, that would require the break up of my family. How could I ever look at my children’s faces again and not be undone by their pain? How could I live with myself if I caused generations of dysfunction by making such a decision?
Further, I’d lose everything else I’d worked for – the shared life we made. I’d also be giving up on a lifelong effort to make all this.
For what? So I could speedily find a new woman who can hopefully provide these things… a woman who wants what I want?
Lost of men do this. Close to half, in fact. I have no judgment for what others do or have done, this just wasn’t something I was willing to do.
Til death do us part? Yes, please!
So what does the husband of an avoidant wife like me do in this situation…seriously? I start longing to be a widow or to just die myself. That just seemed like the easiest way out of the mess.
Man, that sounds awful, Sven! You sound like a real asshole.
Yeah, I know it sounds terrible. I’m not proud of it at all!
But my desire for these things was just that strong. Maybe you know exactly what I am talking about? That “I must” intensity to these desires. The feeling that you will die soon or ought to die if you can’t find them.
That’s just where I was in life. I lived in this spot for a long time – way longer than necessary – because I didn’t know what I know now – that I was the issue.
Turns out, my avoidant wife was actually a gift – perhaps the greatest gift I’d ever experienced as a man!
Fortunately, by the grace of The Creator and having very strong convictions that I spent years developing, I didn’t do anything that caused permanent damage, destruction, or consequences for myself, my wife, or my family.
This was the value of having N.U.T.s for myself – they’re like guardrails – they didn’t make me drive straight and steady on the rough road through the valley of the avoidant wife, but they do a great job of keeping me from veering off the road.
Ownership, responsibility, and humility
A major shift occurred within me. First with taking ownership of everything going on in my life. I had already done this in the areas of vocation, finances, faith, health and wellness, and our children’s education, I/We had experienced mind renewal in many areas of life!
However, I had not considered that perhaps when it came to marriage, I played the victim role. This was not an easy conclusion to come to. Everyone told me I was a great man, father, and husband – even my wife during our tumultuous times! Unfortunately, because of a lack of humility and because of the avoidant wife in front of me, I believed it wasn’t my problem.
Then one day, I came to a thought that wouldn’t leave me alone. A divine spark, perhaps.
“Maybe I’ve not been the kind of man that has inspired her to be better toward me? Maybe I have an avoidant wife because that is what I’ve created for myself somehow”
I didn’t realize how thoroughly true and loaded this question would be. I reached out to a men’s coach and began a journey that would add meat to the bones that began with this idea.
Adam, Eve, and the reflections I didn’t want to see.
I’ve been a student of the Torah, Tanakh, and the New Testament for over three decades. I’ve always found it a reliable source of insight into my life.
Those goat herders knew a lot more about life than we give them credit for, and regardless if one is religious, spiritual, agnostic, or atheist – there is always something useful there for me. I wonder if I could find any insight about an avoidant wife?
I found particular insight in the book of Genesis, particularly in chapter 2.
Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”Genesis 2:18, 21-25 ESV
As a student of these things, I like to dig into the original Hebrew/Greek words and really grok their meaning. That’s where I began to see that “helper fit for him” was not some sort of domestic service or sexual outlet (not that I thought it was either). It was way more than that. There is no misogyny going on here but something quite opposite and beautiful.
The Hebrew word for “helper” in this verse is `ezer (עֵזֶר) and is used elsewhere in the scriptures to describe help that is of a deliverance nature.
The next word, “fit,” or in other translations – “suitable,” is the Hebrew word neged (נֶגֶד) and carries with it several interesting connotations, not the least of which is the idea of being conspicuously in front of opposite, and parallel to.
Eve would fulfill a very distinct role of showing Adam a reflection of himself that would lead to his deliverance. Woah.
Do you know what else sits in front of my face, opposite and parallel to me and quite conspicuously? A mirror!
Eve: mirroring OG
Mirrors don’t just show me when I’m looking good, they also show me when I’m not and in that way, reveal to me things that are potentially harmful to me.
My wife is uniquely crafted to reveal what I cannot see in myself – the good and the bad. Further, her doing so should provide the kind of help that delivers me.
How come she had been so nasty at times and distant and unable to be close?
Because she was showing me myself.
She mirrored my shame, insecurity, and ambiguity about who I am as a man. And in this brother – by seeing these things – is deliverance from these things.
Inwardly, though I didn’t see it, I was nasty to myself, distant from my true identity, and therefore unable to have the life I yearned for because of these.
Her opposing me, playing what felt like an adversarial role, and resisting me forced me to see these things. They compelled me into the fiery forge where the dross could be burnt away, and my true self could emerge.
How does she do this?
I don’t know how this idea eluded me for thirty-plus years, but it suddenly became obvious. My wife can do this in my life because we are one!
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.Gen 2:24 ESV
What happens in me is also being experienced in her. We are our own individuals, but we are also one and therefore connected in ways beyond my understanding.
I see this as similar to our shared living space. If I ratchet up my thermostat to 120º F, she feels it. If I rearrange the furniture, she experiences it. if I paint the walls, she sees the new color.
When I’m experiencing insecurity, we are experiencing it. When I’m not clear on who I am, we are unclear. If I’m living without authenticity for fear of being my true self, we’re living without the intimacy that comes from authenticity.
In all these ways and many more, my wife, through the wonderful gift of femininity, is reflecting to me these parts of me that I cannot see. If I will cooperate with the process, she’s also delivering me from them in the process.
What I experience, she experiences
Okay. Time to put on your deep-thinking cap to understand a marvelous part of all of this. Look closely again at these ancient descriptions of a marriage relationship.
So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. –Gen 2:21-24 ESV
All these desires I’ve always had, longings for deep, passionate, emotional, romantic, close, and affectionate relating… I’d always assumed, like most men, that they were found in a woman. This is what led me to get married and then onward to being perpetually frustrated that my Eve wasn’t delivering the goods.
Why was she not giving me these things I needed? Because they aren’t from her, not directly at least.
They’re from me.
You… complete me
Consider again the verses above – conceptually. Eve isn’t formed from the dust of the earth as Adam was, she’s taken from Adam himself.
Everything within Eve was already within Adam, yet he was “alone” until Eve was “taken out from” his rib. Ironically, the Hebrew word for “alone” here is bad (בַּד), which literally means “separate” and “apart from” and “part.” The implication is that Adam is incomplete and disconnected from the whole.
Yet, whatever Eve provided was within Adam. It was just not conspicuous. It was not neged until it was brought out and presented back to him.
Long before Jerry McGuire was even a thought in a spark of an idea in the mind of Cameron Crowe, another man was away ahead of him. It was after Adam beheld Eve then that he exclaimed, “This, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman because she was taken out of Man.”
The concept that Adam felt completed and whole is inescapable. As imagers of The Creator, both the masculine AND the feminine are necessary. Neither is a complete portrait of the divine in themselves. The union of the two is where the divine’s fullness is found.
Let that sink in.
What can I learn from that?
How do I as a man even know what a deep, passionate, emotional, romantic, close and affectionate relationship looks like? Isn’t wanting them evidence that I know what they are? How could I recognize such things, let alone see them as meaningful and desirable, if I didn’t already know something about them?
Alas, but I do know them! They’ve always been within me but not neged (conspicuous) because to behold the divine requires the masculine AND the feminine, and I am only one half of that.
Eve becomes a beautiful expression and experience to bring these out of me, and I turn to bring the gift of my masculinity back to her, playing a role in unveiling her beauty.
Doesn’t my heart long to be this for her? Have I not grown up yearning to be this and more? To be her hero? Has my heart not been enlivened at the prospect of giving myself to her?
Is this not what I’ve really wanted and been looking for in a relationship?
I believe it is! Yet, in the grandest of mysteries, those things remained inconspicuous, “buried in my side” until my Eve began to reflect on who I was. In our oneness, she instinctively understood these. What I thought was her avoidance was merely a responsive reflection of my own shame, insecurity, lack of authenticity, and murky identity.
Deliverance (sans the banjo music)
My shame and insecurity had prevented the expression of my true self and in turn, had made me an entirely unsafe environment for my wife to understand her own deliverance. I believe this is what compels Eve – she needs Adam to be delivered for herself to be unveiled by him.
The gift of her reflecting this place to me, combined with my unquenchable desire for a deep, passionate, emotional, romantic, close, affectionate relationship, showed me this veil over my heart.
This veil would need to be faced and addressed to be who I was created to be – and it has been, and life has not been the same since – and never will be again.
Lastly, I now know that these things are mine to create and bring to my relationship – not hers. She will merely reflect back to me what I am bringing to our oneness. I’m free from waiting. There is no limbo. There is no outside dependency – and it’s wonderful.
Let’s talk if you’d like to understand more about what it takes to walk this kind of journey or need support as you walk a similar path.