Indifference in a Relationship/Marriage

Why do marriages fail? There are many reasons—lack of trust, lack of communication, disrespect, disregard, or differences with your spouse (what we usually say, “the other half”), non compatibility, and may more .

But the reason that stands out as a major cause is something that many people are not aware of. It is indifference. Indifference in a relationship means not caring what the other person does or does not do, feel or does not feel. In short, when you just don’t care what the other person feels or is going through, you are indifferent.

A relationship can survive angry arguments, differences in compatibility, lack of communication, and/or communication problems, even disregard with some difficulty. Some couples also manage to survive lack of trust and respect in relationship. But indifference is a bigger threat than all these. This is because 99% of the couples may not even be aware of the fact that indifference can be such a major threat in a relationship.

Why does indifference creep into a relationship?

  • Self-centered spouses are blind to the desires of their partners. For them their own needs,  requirements, like, and dislikes are of utmost importance.

For example, an insecure husband is sometimes unwilling to communicate openly, share his problem, and seem vulnerable in the presence of his wife. Slowly, as time passes, he might not want his wife to share her problems with him, just because he does not want to share his problem. It is easy to say, I don’t trouble you with my problems, so you don’t trouble me with yours. As time passes, this slowly turns into indifference.

  • Taking things for granted: Think about the the early days of your marriage (or even your courtship period). You probably did almost everything together—watching TV, doing household work, grocery shopping, banking, etc.

Unfortunately, in many cases, the spouses or one spouse start taking things for granted. Doing things together and spending time together reduces and eventually it discontinues. Instead they start doing something else which contributes extensively to the indifference factor.

  • It has become a habit: When a partner, say you becomes involved in your own work and/or activities and refuse to allow your partner to be a part of it, or even share information with the spouse, the two of you begin to spend more and more time apart.  You as a couple also become emotionally separate and distant from each other.

In some case, both of you are simply too busy to talk together and to be together. After a while you may find that it doesn’t even bother you to be apart so often, probably it has become a habit and you have found a way to keep you occupied. This also slowly contributes to complete indifference. The factors which were once considered important for close, healthy, intimate, and growing relationship almost become non-existent.

  • Feeling of interference: Indifference becomes  a punishment for the spouse who still cares and hence the person gets badly  affected by such behavior.

Your spouse may be already indifferent, but you still are not. Their habit angers you. We all know that anger is a negative feeling, but here, it is a way of showing that you care. Unfortunately the indifferent spouse does not realize that you are angry because you care. For them your caring nature is a major issue because they see it as an interference—as their habit angers you, and you in turn start talking, even though it is in anger.

  • Stop caring: Eventually, arguing may also stop after a while because you stop caring if your partner/spouse is wrong or is doing wrong. Once you stop caring, you automatically stop interfering, and this makes them happy. You also start feel relaxed since there are no more argument and there is peace and calm. So, you try to condition yourself not to be hurt by the words or actions of your spouse.

So we can say that trust is not at all an issue because your partner does not even care about earning your trust, affection, or respect. He/she just want to get to do what they want to do (drink alcohol when they please, take drugs, come and go as they please, buy things they want) without any cribbing or questioning from your part.

If both the partners are indifferent, there are no arguments and so it does not hurt anyone. So everything seem to be okay on the surface, to you and to the outside world. You interact every day in silence where everything seems okay, because neither of you (or one of you) cares whether it is OK or not. But unfortunately what you fail to understand is that it is no longer a good relationship as it is hardly a marriage. It is dragging a dead relationship.

What to do?’

What happens when plants are not watered regularly ? They wilt and eventually, they die. The same is true for any relationship (even marriages). When husbands and wives become indifferent to each other, they become almost non existent in the other’s minds and thoughts. Because of this, the marriage is deprived of the manure that is important for growing the relation. As a result, it withers and dies.

However, if you have made up your mind, you do not have to succumb to the devastating effects of indifference. You can follow a few simple guidelines to prevent indifference from growing to dangerous proportions. But what is important is, both the partners must whole-heartedly be involved in doing this. Even if one is disinterested, it will not work.

  1. Awareness: The simplest, yet strongest step in fighting indifference is being aware of the possibility of the existence of indifference. Be aware of some of the danger signs, such as not spending time together, communicating less frequently, having separate activities, not wanting to spend time with the spouse, not wanting to take care of the spouse, etc.
  2. Show interest: The next step is to show interest in solving the problem and that it is by showing interest in your spouse. You can improve your relationship by getting genuinely interested in your spouse, their well-being, their work, and their activities.
    1. Show keen interest and encourage your spouse to speak about things that are of concern to them.
    2. Ask questions which will let your partner know you are interested in his/her activities.
    3. Be an attentive, interested, and concerned  listener. You will discover the fact that by being a good listener, you can actually fill a person’s need for respect.
  3. Avoid fragmentation. Today, the relationships are no longer a thing to be taken for granted—they are extremely complicated , fragile, and complex. Today, life and everything else associated with it is fast paced. You get so busy that you do not have time even to keep a relation alive. As a social being, you are pressured to become involved in many different activities. Occupational, community, and social demands pull us in several different directions at the same time.The result is that you feel pressured and your time and effort get fragmented.You are so busy and involved with work that you are constantly fatigued and irritable, you rarely see each other, rarely communicate with each other, and you stop enjoying each other’s company. You become terribly busy, too busy even to say a sorry or a I love you or show that you care. Then, starts the mine and your’s type of communication. This is not the way marriage is supposed to be.
  4. Forget I, say WE. Avoid my/mine and your type of talk. It is not a good marriage at all. Even if one of the spouse talks about my money, my problem, my family, my car, my time, my friends, my work, and so on, it is a difficult situation to handle (for the other spouse). But if both the spouses speak the same language, then they are moving in different directions altogether—my family, your family; my problem, your problem; my money, your money; my time, your time; my friend, your friend….. nothing seems to be theirs.Remember this behavior affects the children very badly—-they are the ones who have to face the harsh reality in either of the situation. Drop the mine and your type of behavior and start with we. These day’s people use the term “we are pregnant” instead of “my wife is pregnant” this actually shows off their togetherness.  As a rule, if you think you cannot let loose of the “mine” or “your’s” way of life, don’t get married and spoil many lives—your spouses and your children’s.
  5. Common goals:  What happens when two people stop working together towards common goals? Simple, they begin to go their separate ways. The same applies for a relationship as well, and each one of you tend to become self-centered and concerned only with your individual interests. Hence, if you are aware of the indifference in your life, try to work together toward common goals.When the two of you pursue a common objective, there will be positive interaction. You spend time together, take care of each other, and support each other.  Thus, you will grow together instead of growing apart. Also, once the we factor enters the lives, things start getting better because you automatically start thinking we and doing things for we/us.
  6. Create joyful experiences. After a couple of years of marriage, people start taking their spouses for granted.  By doing this, many couples allow their marriages to become dull and boring.  It is very unfortunate that couples don’t realize the potential for “marriage”  to be one of the most joyful experiences in life.How can you make joy happen in your marriage? You can add joy to your marriage by a following simple exercise:
    1. Sit down with your spouse.
    2. List the things you enjoy doing in life.
    3. Ask yourselves how often you actually do these things.
    4. Make an effort to increase these fun things in your life.
  7. Renew your relation. Another way to strengthen your marriage is to renew it. Do the following exercise—the result may amaze you. Don’t crib or criticize when you do this exercise:
    1. Sit down together and decide what you do and do not like about each other.
    2. Make a list of the behaviors you would like your spouse to change. Similarly, let your spouse make a list of your behavior.
    3. Make a list of the behaviors that you would like them to continue with. Similarly, let your spouse make a list of your positive behavior.
    4. Mutually agree to eliminate those things that are causing dissatisfaction or distance in your marriage.
    5. You may not be able to eliminate all of them together, so, prioritize the, pick a few, and work on them and then address the rest.
    6. Put more emphasis on the positive aspects of your relationship by participating more often in activities and behaviors which make each other happy.

Remember, no relationship in life has more potential for bringing two people together as a marriage does. It brings in all types of joy, happiness, and bonding between a man (husband) and a woman (wife). Take baby steps to prevent marriage from deteriorating into indifference. By practicing the above mentioned principles, it is likely that your marriage will become the vital, growing, and very happy relationship.

Is it necessary to be in a loveless and bad marriage just because you want to show you don’t care? It only spoils your life. Change your behavior a bit and bring in lifelong happiness.


8 Responses

  1. You raise the awareness of a very important issue in relationships, often forgotten. Thanks.

  2. from your worried n lonely wife.

    • Thanks for the comment. Since I read a lot, I could be inspired by somethings that I have read and is probably still in my memory. Direct quotes—I have always used quotes a quotes.

  3. Nice. I read the same article by John M Grohol.

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