Rejection is a part of life. You might have been rejected for a job you applied for, or a house you put a bid on. Maybe you got cut from your sports team in high school. When it happens, you might feel sad, worthless or angry. Despite this, most of the time we are able to move on from the pain without too much issue.
Feeling rejected in marriage, however, can be a much more complicated problem. It’s one thing when people “out there” turn you down, discredit you, or don’t acknowledge the gifts you have to offer. But it’s so much worse when the person who promised to “love, honor, and cherish ‘till death do us part” gives you the cold shoulder. When the person you have committed your life pushes you away, it hurts us much deeper.
While this might be a new occurrence for you and your spouse, rejection in marriage is more common than you think and usually happens to all of us at one time or another. Some experiences are mild, while others recur over long periods of time and wreck your self-esteem. Repeated rejection can hurt your psychological health and endanger the entire relationship.
There are many ways that your spouse can make you feel rejected, and the majority of them are from a lack of intimacy and closeness, or physical rejection. You might feel unattractive and worthless when they say they don't want to have sex, or feel hurt when they shut down your advances. They might be showing affection towards you less and less, and you feel they don't care as much as they once used to.
In addition, there are other types of rejection you may be feeling. Material rejection is when you want the big screen TV, but your spouse shuts your idea down. While this seems insignificant, it may have more of an impact on you then you realize. Verbal rejection is when one spouse attempts to talk, and the other doesn’t respond in a kind way. Instead they might use harsh words or choose not to respond at all. You may also feel emotional rejection, where your spouse simply isn’t there as much as you need them to be emotionally.
Part of you might think that it shouldn’t matter, and you try to dismiss your pain by reminding yourself that they chose to be in this marriage. But you have to be honest with yourself and admit that it does hurt, otherwise you might not address the problem correctly. There are a few actions that you can take to try and rectify some of the problems.
First, be very clear about what you want and need from them. Do they even know that you are feeling rejected? Are they unaware that you’re struggling in the relationship? State the exact emotional impact that their actions (or lack of) are having on you. Also spend some alone time with your heart to really understand what it is you feel is lacking in the marriage. Do you have a need to feel closer to your spouse, secure in the relationship, or feel more valued? Are you strictly not feeling fulfilled sexually? Maybe you simply need them to tell you they love you more. The clearer you can be about the exact actions they can take the better.
Second, help your spouse help you. Most people doesn’t want to just listen to you vent about a problem, they want to fix it and problem solve. Nagging and complaining will not get you far, so instead show them what they can do to make you feel more accepted. Say something such as “I have felt lonely recently, can we go out on a date together this weekend?” While they might not respond in the way you hope for them to, this is more productive then getting angry and upset.
Third, look out for the things you can appreciate. If you want more out of your marriage, you have to give love and praise when they do the things that make you feel loved and accepted. They will feel more validated that their actions matter to you, and will want to do them more often to make you feel happy. By consciously looking for the good things, you’ll probably notice more of them yourself, and your own attitude may will improve. Try looking at things from their perspective, too. Are you actually missing some of the loving signs they show you?
Fourth, you have to also take full responsibility for yourself. Have you been rejecting your spouse without even realizing it? You may be pulling yourself away from them because you aren’t feeling as loved as you once did. This only causes them to also feel rejected, and will spiral your relationship out of control. Make sure you are not giving them negative messages yourself that are turning them away from you. You also need to accept the fact that only you can control your feelings, and that no one can ever “fix” them for you. If you are feeling lonely, hurt, unattractive, inadequate, or undesirable, it’s because you’re choosing to believe a negative thoughts about yourself, and feeding those feelings.
Rejection in marriage is real, and can cause real problems in your relationship. There are a few things you can do to handle rejection, so your marriage can continue to move forward and thrive. Try out these tips if you’re feeling rejected by your spouse, and you will be on the path to making things a little easier.