Knowing and understanding your partner is an element counsellors emphasise. This helps to correct what goes wrong or recover from certain situations. Eden Mugalu has been married for five years but her efforts to conceive had almost failed until God answered her prayers and gave her a child. The couple was so happy but their joy was short-lived as the child passed on three weeks after delivery due to some complications.
“It is almost four months since I lost my beautiful angel who we got after a long struggle. Many family members had advised me to find another woman since Eden had failed to conceive. However, I believed that only God gives, a promise He fulfilled although we lost the baby,” narrates Paul, Eden’s husband.
Paul adds that his wife has been emotionally down and unavailable. “There are times I talk to her or ask something and it takes her a while to respond because she is lost in thought. She is, however, slowly getting back to normal since now she can smile,” he happily reveals.
According to Evelyn Kharono, a relationship coach, love is oriented. It is about stepping out of your needs and helping someone else. This is what makes us grow and makes relationships a transforming experience.
Kharono says an emotionally unavailable partner does not experience this growth because he is into himself most of the time.
This person tends to dismiss feelings of his or her partner and so, they act differently.
“Such a person is unreliable when he says he will be there, it means it can only happen at his own convenience. He is not empathetic about how the other partner feels,” reveals the expert.
Other relationships experts say anger is usually the only emotion such a person can express. Kharono further explains that in most cases when the partner is emotionally unavailable, they always pretend to be fine even when asked about the relationship.
How to tell
Paul Nyende, a psychologist, explains the different things that can easily indicate that your partner is emotionally absent.
Withdrawal. This is when a partner distances themselves from the relationship or from you as a partner. There will be reduced contact and probably very little social exchange.
Negligence. Nyende says here the partner starts to neglect important aspects of the relationship or dropping their responsibilities such as taking care of or stopping to provide for the home in case it is the man.
Sexual dysfunction. Here, the couple will experience interference in the sex drive due to depression or anger.
Hostility. There is regular discord and frequent negative comments or relentless arguments or emotional and physical abuse.
Resentment. There will be strong feelings of resentment and apathy, where one feels a sense of disgust and cannot stand or tolerate the other partner.
Curb the situation
Nyende says it is better to seek professional support to cope with the changes and frustrations in such a situation. Other things you can do may include; remaining clam, be composed and try to think clearly and rationally.
Be patient as relationships require skill and time to repair, think positively and avoid the blame game that will drive the partner away, communicate your feelings in a calm way, using the “I”, focusing on how you are affected rather than the “you” statements that are accusatory.
Kharono concludes: “Being emotionally unavailable does not mean the person is necessarily bad. Some people have had painful childhood experiences and this could be one of way of coping with fear and rejection. It is, therefore, a matter of deciding if this relationship is healthy for you or not. Sometimes you also need to give your partner time while also being supportive.”
Nyende however cautions one to avoid instant retaliation as this will only escalate the problem.
Talk to your partner
Sit your partner down and talk about what’s going on. Don’t probe—just gently encourage your loved one to talk about any feelings, frustrations, or fears they might have. You may have to read between the lines a bit, but the reason behind your partner’s emotional distance will usually be quickly revealed.
The key to getting your partner to reveal this information lies in creating a safe environment from them, as we’re about to see.