What to Do When Your Wife Checks Out Emotionally (10 Key Tips)

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Your wife has checked out, and now you’re essentially living with a cold and emotionless stranger under the same roof.

If you find yourself in this situation, keep reading, because in this article we’re explaining what to do, how to respond, and how to protect yourself emotionally when your wife has become emotionally distant.

Here’s how to get your wife to check back in:

  • Acknowledge the problem
  • Accept responsibility for the part you’ve played
  • Listen and show empathy without defending yourself
  • Commit to making positive changes
  • Don’t smother your wife during this process
  • Grow and change as a person
  • Refuse to feed into the negative communication cycles

If you don’t want to lose your wife completely and you’re ready to take action now, you can start immediately turning your relationship dynamics around by learning how to stop toxic cycles with the techniques in Dr. Lee Baucom’s best-selling program Save The Marriage.

Click the link above now, or find out how to respond to your wife and help her check back into your relationship below.

What to Do When Your Wife Checks Out Emotionally

The bottom line?

When your wife checks out emotionally, you have to prove to her that you are committed to providing what’s missing for her in the relationship.

Because ultimately, that’s the reason she’s distanced herself emotionally.

Something wasn’t there for her, her needs weren’t getting met, and eventually, she saw your relationship as broken.

So she cut you off emotionally out of self-preservation. 

The basic recipe to help your wife check back in is as follows:

  • Patience
  • Understanding
  • Acknowledging the underlying problem
  • Empathizing
  • Growing and changing as a spouse
  • Providing what’s been missing in the relationship

Below are the steps you’ll need to take in order to convince your wife that it’s safe to let you back in.

Without further ado, let’s dive in.

Read Next: How to Save Your Marriage

1. Don’t Ignore It, Or It Will Get Worse

Sweeping the issue under the rug is a huge mistake.

Guaranteed, if your wife has checked out emotionally, then waiting while doing nothing to acknowledge or change the situation will lead to disaster.

When your wife checks out, the longer you avoid addressing the emotional detachment, the worse it may become.

Ultimately, you’ll need to make an effort to communicate and reconnect with her.

Which may be difficult for you, especially if you’re feeling wounded and rejected by your wife’s iciness.

But the fact remains, someone is going to have to reach out, and it’s going to have to be you.

Which brings us to the next tip…

2. Approach Your Wife with Empathy

When it comes time to talk to your wife, approach her with empathy.

Even if she doesn’t return it, show her compassion and do not shut down the minute she starts freezing you out—you will reinforce to her that she needs to keep her guard up.

You can begin the conversation non-confrontationally (i.e., do not ask her, “Why have you been so emotionally closed off lately?”).

Say something like, “I’ve noticed we’ve gotten a little distant lately, and I want to change that because our relationship is important to me.”

See if she responds.

If not, stay patient and continue with something along the lines of, “Is there anything I’m doing in our relationship that’s making you feel a lack of support/love/respect?”

The key is to open the floor to a conversation where your wife is able to talk freely.

Also, avoid questions like “Do you still love me?”

Stick to open-ended questions that allow her to share her thoughts and feelings—at her discretion—and control the amount of opening up that she does.

Read Next: My Wife Doesn’t Love Me

3. Listen to Your Wife Without Judgment

You need to understand why your wife has checked out.

In her eyes, is this temporary, or a permanent withdrawal from the relationship she feels she needs in order to survive in it?

What caused her to get to this point in the first place?

You can find out by simply listening to your wife and asking questions.

That is, by not denying what she says or blaming her.

As you listen, avoid offering solutions or defending yourself.

The more your wife feels you really want to understand her perspective and hear her, the more encouraged she’ll be to let you in on what’s really going on.

Because if you understand what’s causing your wife’s emotional distance, you have a chance to fix it.

4. Let Her Know You’re Going to Change Things

Whether your wife opens up or remains silent, you should still let her know that you’re going to work on changing things (and yourself).

Even if she hasn’t named the problem, you’re probably aware of some things that need to be worked on.

And if you dig deep, you can probably think of some areas that your wife has mentioned in the past or has reacted to negatively that you might be able to improve.

Let her know that you’re aware of the issues—and be accountable for your part in them.

Tell her that you’ll work on yourself to become a better partner, regardless of whether she opens up about her feelings.

This shows that you’re taking the situation seriously in improving the relationship for her (and yourself).

This is an act of personal responsibility that your wife has probably been waiting to see.

Perhaps she doesn’t quite believe you yet, but by taking action on your own, you give her an inkling of hope.

5. Give Your Wife Space and Focus on Your Own Life

You can’t force your wife to show you love and affection again.

Sometimes, when a person checks out emotionally, they need space to process their feelings.

Respect your wife’s space and give her the time she needs without pressuring her to engage when she’s not ready.

You have your own life to live, and she has hers—focus on what brings you happiness and work toward your own goals.

This is not you trying to compete with her and do your own thing while ignoring each other.

Rather, you’re respecting the space that she’s created without intruding on it and raising her walls even higher.

If they’re going to come down, they need to come down on her terms.

6. Stop Feeding Into Negative Cycles

The stressors of everyday life can easily bleed into your relationship and become part of your dynamics as a couple.

This can create negative patterns in your relationship that become harder to get out of as you trigger one another more and more regularly.

And eventually, they will damage your emotional connection.

It’s important to break unproductive patterns of behavior and actively work to create a more positive dynamic between you and your wife.

One crucial step you will need to take to break these cycles is learning how to stop reacting.

Reacting is primal, emotional, and automatic—responding is thoughtful, controlled, and constructive.

Becoming better at responding rather than reacting allows you to change the tone of your interactions with your wife and stop feeding into power battles.

If you want to know more about how to stop toxic relationship patterns and take control of your responses, check out Dr. Lee Baucom’s method in Save The Marriage

7. Let Your Wife See You Growing as a Person

As you work on yourself and make changes, let your wife see that you’re growing as a person. 

Demonstrate your commitment to personal growth by taking self-improvement seriously.

Actions speak louder than words.

As your wife sees your progress over time, she will know that you truly are committed to positive change and reform.

It will help that seed of hope in her grow and help her trust her desire to reach out to this version of you who has proved himself steadfast and reliable.

8. Continue to Be Supportive and Understanding

Through it all, be supportive and understanding. 

Be patient.

Don’t stop because you think your wife is coming around. Or because you think it’s not working.

Continue working on your relationship even when things are difficult. 

Time and a pressure-free environment are critical—remember, it’s not a race.

9. Lean on Friends and Family

This is a trying time for you, emotionally and psychologically.

There’s no need to try to bear it on your own.

Find support from family and friends.

Allow yourself to feel sad and express your emotions to people who care about you and want to support you.

You need to keep your self-esteem intact while you’re tackling this challenge within your marriage if you want to come out the other side of it.

10. Consider Seeking Outside Help

Establishing a support system outside of your relationship can include a few different options.

One is joining a support group to help give you a sense of camaraderie and support within a community that gets what you’re going through.

Another option is speaking to a marriage counselor or family therapist to help guide you through the issues in your marriage and repair them. 

If that’s not a good option for you and your wife, you can also work on your relationship using exercises and techniques in a guide like Save The Marriage

No matter what you choose, using a reliable outside marriage resource can give you greater confidence and more knowledge on what you’re possibly doing right and wrong in your relationship.

How Do You Tell If Your Wife Has Checked Out? 15 Signs

Telling if your wife has emotionally checked out of your marriage can be challenging, but there are several signs that can help you identify her disconnection.

Keep in mind that this list is not exhaustive, but it can provide some guidance to understand her behavior patterns better.

  1. She seems distracted and less engaged when spending time with you.
  2. Her communication has significantly decreased or become superficial.
  3. She avoids physical intimacy and affection.
  4. She’s showing little interest in your thoughts, feelings, or daily activities.
  5. You have little to no knowledge of your spouse’s emotions, inner thoughts, or dreams.
  6. More and more, she’ll spend time on friends or hobbies without including you.
  7. You’re feeling more like roommates than a married couple.
  8. You notice a lack of effort in maintaining the relationship on her part.
  9. She shows no concern about potential conflicts or disagreements.
  10. Emotional distance or coldness becomes the norm between you.
  11. You feel like you’re walking on eggshells around her.
  12. She expresses resentment towards you or the relationship.
  13. You notice her confiding in someone else instead of you.
  14. She’s having an emotional affair with someone else.
  15. She makes cruel or sarcastic remarks without seeming to think of your feelings.

Factors That Lead to Emotional Disconnection

Individual and External Factors

Several individual and external factors can contribute to emotional disconnection between you and your spouse.

Your or your partner’s past experiences, emotional traumas, or insecurities can make it difficult to maintain a close emotional connection.

Stressful situations outside of the relationship, like a new job or family issues, can also lead to one or both partners withdrawing emotionally.

Protecting oneself from fear or pain may result in emotional detachment.

To make matters more difficult, when one spouse detaches, the other spouse may mirror their actions out of self-preservation.

To identify and address individual and external factors that may be causing emotional disconnection, try:

  • Recognizing personal issues that may contribute to emotional distance.
  • Analyzing how outside sources of stress may affect the relationship.
  • Seeking help from a family therapist or counselor to work through these issues, if necessary.

Relationship Dynamics

Miscommunication and poor relationship dynamics can lead to emotional disconnection.

When two partners fail to effectively communicate their needs and feelings, misunderstandings and hurt feelings can develop.

As a result, one or both partners may disengage emotionally to protect themselves, which only furthers the divide between them.

To improve and promote meaningful emotional connection, do the following:

  • Work on open communication with your spouse, discussing needs and emotions.
  • Practice empathy and try to view situations from your partner’s perspective.
  • Address any unspoken anger or resentments that may be damaging the emotional connection.
  • Be vulnerable with each other, sharing your thoughts, fears, and desires.

A strong emotional bond between partners is essential for maintaining a healthy relationship.

Identifying the factors contributing to emotional disconnection, then addressing them openly and proactively, can help you and your spouse regain and protect the emotional connection you both deserve.

Signs Your Wife Has Given Up on Your Marriage

At one point, your wife may progress from being emotionally checked out to giving up completely.

Being aware of these signs can potentially help decrease the possibility of divorce and save your relationship by giving you an opportunity to act.

  • One alarming sign is when your wife becomes emotionally cold and distant. If you notice that it’s a struggle to engage her in conversation or that she’s become an empty shell, this might indicate she’s starting to detach herself from the marriage completely.
  • Another sign to look for is if she won’t even argue or disagree with you anymore. It’s as if she doesn’t care anymore and is completely unaffected by your concerns or opinions.
  • Yet another sign is if your wife continues to decrease the amount of time she spends with you. She’ll be spending more time working late into the night, and just generally avoiding you in your home together by spending time in another room.
  • Your wife may have given up on your marriage if her resentment has grown to the point that you don’t even recognize her anymore. She is rude, nasty even to you, and can’t seem to treat you with respect, kindness, or dignity anymore.

Read Also: How Do I Know If My Marriage Is Over?

What can you do when you notice these signs? Start by addressing the issues directly and openly.

Communicate your concerns with your wife and express your desire to work on the relationship together.

Be proactive in finding ways to re-establish a strong emotional connection, spend quality time together, and rebuild trust in your marriage.

There’s no definite point when it’s too late to make positive changes in your relationship, but recognizing the signs early on is crucial for the best possible outcome.


What is emotional neglect in a marriage?

Emotional neglect in a marriage occurs when one partner consistently fails to provide emotional support, attention, and understanding to the other.

This can manifest as a lack of listening, empathy, or general emotional connection.

It’s important for both partners to be aware of the signs of emotional neglect and to work together to address the issue and maintain a healthy emotional bond.

How to save your marriage even if your spouse is checked out?

If you find that your spouse has checked out emotionally, don’t give up on the relationship.

It’s still possible for your partner to check back in.

Try opening up lines of communication, be patient, and be present in the moment.

Focus on the times when you do feel connected and work together to create more of those moments.

What are the emotional stages of a marriage breakdown?

The emotional stages of a marriage breakdown may include:

  1. Disillusionment: Doubts or discontent grows about the relationship.
  2. Emotional distancing: Partners start to emotionally withdraw from one another.
  3. Loss of trust and intimacy: Trust breaks down, making it difficult to share feelings.
  4. Desperation for change: One or both partners passionately seek solutions to save the marriage.
  5. Decision: It’s at this stage that either the decision is made to end the marriage or to make a concerted effort to repair it.

Can a marriage survive emotional neglect?

Yes, a marriage can survive emotional neglect, but it requires both partners to recognize the issue and make a genuine effort to change.

This may involve open communication, rebuilding trust and intimacy, and seeking professional help if needed.

Remember, emotional neglect doesn’t have to be the end of a relationship if both partners are willing to work on it.

What is walkaway wife syndrome?

Walkaway wife syndrome refers to a situation in which a wife feels so emotionally neglected that she decides to leave the marriage.

This decision often comes after a long period of feeling emotionally unsupported and as a last resort when all other efforts to save the marriage have failed.

To prevent this from happening, it’s important for both partners to be proactive in maintaining a strong emotional connection and addressing issues before they escalate.

Ready to stop your marriage from deteriorating and rebuild it stronger than ever? Check out Save The Marriage by marriage coach Dr. Lee Baucom.

Marlene Davis is an experienced blogger with a focus on interpersonal relationships. Her dream is to help improve people's lives and relationships through sharing of practical knowledge and evidence-based practices.