Effects of Childhood Emotional Neglect: Is Your Partner Suffering? How to Cope

Could there be a reason why your marriage feels two-dimensional? Why do you keep thinking that something is missing?

Is there a reason why your partner often gets overwhelmed and frustrated or withdraws when you address problems or conflict?

Absolutely. Your partner could be suffering from the long-term negative effects of emotional neglect.

How can you know?

How to Recognize the Effects of Emotional Neglect in Your Partner

A child subjected to emotional neglect receives a very subtle but immensely persuasive message: Your feelings don’t matter!

Due to their emotions being suppressed throughout their childhood, these children have a hard time learning how to recognize, accept, understand, and articulate their feelings. As adults, they often can’t communicate their needs, connect emotionally with those closest to them, or tolerate conflict.

Suffering these effects of emotional neglect, your partner may frequently be irritable for no reason and unable to process emotionally charged situations through critical thinking. They may also misread the emotions of others or their own and withdraw quickly when they become confused or overwhelmed. They may even seek escape into various addictions to avoid seemingly difficult situations and discomfort.

All this may leave you wondering about what is going on with your loved one and feel hesitant about your interaction and your relationship. It’s like they’re there, but not truly present, at arm’s length and yet so distant.

How to Cope When Your Partner Suffers the Effects of Emotional Neglect

  • Educate yourself

Learn as much as possible about Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN). You will probably begin to find the answers to why you’re not completely happy in your marriage. Explain it to your partner Ask them to look into it , and perhaps take a CEN questionnaire that will help them determine  if they’re suffering from the effects of emotional neglect.

  • Be reasonable

Don’t expect too much from your partner. Be patient and reasonable because they may not always be able to connect with you on a mature level. Remember that they’re probably just as perplexed about what’s wrong as you have been. When your partner makes a concerted effort to learn about CEN and tries to work with you, express your appreciation for their actions. Stay open and available for further communication about the issue.

  • Show empathy and compassion

Provide physical, behavioral, and emotional forms of support. Be kind and compassionate, showing your understanding about how hard this may be for them. Let them see that you truly love and care about them overcoming the effects of emotional neglect. But also make clear how important this is to you and your relationship. Be honest and open with your emotions, letting them see how much pain this problem has caused you, without assigning blame.

  • Learn to ask vertical questions

To help deepen your relationship, try new ways of communicating and connecting. Vertical questions can accomplish that. They’re different from normal questions because their aim is not to gather information but to access deep emotions. They’re often challenging, making you look inside yourself, not outside. They can also lead you to discovering something meaningful.

  • Seek out a professional counselor

If you just can’t seem to be able to cope or the situation doesn’t improve at all, don’t hesitate to consult a mental health professional. A skilled and competent couple’s therapist can usually help those suffering the effects of emotional neglect along the way.