Indifference is a marriage killer. If you have reached a level of “I just don’t care” in your relationship, this is the time you need to stand up and fight for your marriage.
An automatic response to your significant other’s questions of “Whatever” may be a sign that indifference is taking over your mindset. And that can be dangerous.
If you still care about your spouse and your marriage, don’t ignore those thoughts. Deal with them and stop indifference from destroying your marriage.
How do you recognize indifference?
Feeling indifferent means you lack interest, concern, enthusiasm, and even sympathy in a situation.
Indifference in marriage is a pretense under which you have agreed to live with no fighting, no heated debates. You just go on with your own separate lives, acting more like roommates than spouses.
This side by side living is not a relationship. It’s barely even living.
What causes it?
Indifference can show up in your marriage for a variety of reasons.
There could be some hurt or resentment between you that keeps you from connecting. You don’t want the issue to come up because it will just result in a fight. It’s not worth your effort to deal with the problems. It’s easier just not to care.
A strong marriage takes work. It needs to be cared for and nurtured.
Unfortunately, she didn’t know how to do the same for her marriage, and neither did my father. They never worked on their marriage. There was always an undercurrent of indifference. They just didn’t care or give their relationship what it needed to survive and thrive. So, eventually, they did divorce.
Sometimes indifference in marriage can come up due to a fight or a traumatizing event. Emotions run high, and people say and do things they shouldn’t, causing the other spouse to give up on fixing the problem.
Indifference can be contagious. Once one partner gives up, the other one usually follows suit, and pretty soon you have roommates sharing a space instead of spouses sharing a life.
Signs you are indifferent.
Lack of intimacy. Every marriage goes through dry spells in the sex department. People can be sick, tired, overwhelmed. Different stages of marriage are more conducive to spending this kind of quality time together.
But if nothing is going on that would physically preclude you from sex, and you find that you really don’t care if you have it or not, you’re becoming indifferent to your marriage and your spouse’s needs.
No more nagging or fighting. Have you realized that you don’t even bother asking your spouse to do things anymore? Does it seem useless to even fight about situations because you just don’t care if those situations are fixed?
When the conversations stop, the level of attachment decreases quickly, making you apathetic about your marriage.
Traditions stop. Did you use to go to the place where you got engaged to relive the moment on your anniversary? Was there a special dinner you would make to celebrate birthdays? Most couples have traditions like these that help keep them connected in their marriage.
No longer caring about those things and not keeping those traditions is a sign of dangerous indifference.
Silence. Is the silence in your home deafening? Not talking, even about the little things that happened that day, pulls you apart. Even arguing is better than silence because it shows you still care about the marriage.
Time apart. If you spend more time apart than together and it doesn’t bother you, that’s an indication you may be indifferent to your spouse.
How to fight indifference
Stop the negative thoughts.
Marriage problems come from a cycle of negative thoughts, emotional responses, and the actions that result from the choices you make.
Whatever. It’s the word of death.
When you say, “Whatever,” you’re keeping your honest thoughts to yourself, and preventing your spouse from learning what you like. Then you get mad because they don’t know you well enough.
Control your emotions.
Thoughts come first, and then emotions. Not the other way around. Brain science shows the firing of the thought occurs in the brain before the emotion center is activated. These are usually automatic reactions, especially if you’ve faced this situation before.
If your spouse says or does the same thing often, your brain is trained to react in a certain way. Specific words from your spouse trigger anger. Some actions trigger sadness or anxiety.
These automatic reactions are efficient for your brain, but they can be detrimental to your relationship because they cause you to take destructive actions. Those actions create the atmosphere in your home and affect the future outcome of your marriage.
You need to learn how to recognize the thoughts that trigger you and control the emotions that occur. You can renew your mind as God tells you to do in Romans.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2
You can change your thought patterns, and then, like dominoes, your emotions, actions, and overall health of your marriage will improve.
Write down the negative thoughts you have the most often about your spouse and then write a list of positive things about them. When you feel like you don’t care anymore, check out the list of good traits. Remember why you married them.
Change your actions
Another way to trade those negative thoughts for positive, biblical ones is to act like you do care, even if you don’t feel like you do at the time. Take charge of those “Whatever” moments.
What would a great marriage between the two of you look like? What kinds of things would you do that would make it great. Once you’ve identified them, do them.
Here are a few action ideas to eliminate apathy and begin the fight for your marriage.
- Reboot the old traditions or do other things that will remind your spouse of where you once were when things were better.
- Talk–Make a point of asking questions. Questions about anything.
- Spend time together—even boring times like grocery shopping or running errands. Deliberately make time for one another.
- Seek God and ask Him what you can do to care more about your marriage and your spouse. Ask him to renew your passion for your relationship.
Maybe you’re thinking, “I’m not the one who needs to take these actions. I’m fighting for my marriage. My spouse is the indifferent one.”
If so, there’s a good reason your spouse acts the way they do. Start to fight for your marriage by making changes in yourself first. They will notice, and things will change.
If you fight for your marriage, it can survive indifference. One way to do that is to work with a marriage coach who will help you identify the problem and figure out a way out of it. We’d love to help you with that. Click here for a free 45 minute coaching call with us!