Chapter 13. The Cold, Distant Wife


Chapter 13 - The Cold Distant Wife

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[thrive_text_block color=”light” headline=”Chapter Summary”]This chapter is all about getting inside the mind of a cold, distant wife. You’ll learn how to interpret her coldness, then you’ll learn the REAL reason your wife is pushing away from the marriage and what you can do about it.[/thrive_text_block]

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Do you ever feel lonely inside your own home?

How do you communicate with a woman who has no interest in speaking with you? Or maybe your wife doesn’t even want to see you, much less have a conversation?

Either way, she’s certainly not interested in being affectionate or loving.

One of the most common questions I get from Husband Help Haven readers is how to deal with a cold and distant wife. By the end of this chapter, you’ll know the specific reason your wife is so cold and how exactly you should respond to it. This isn’t just fluff; this chapter is full of clear, actionable advice that will give you the strength and knowledge to weather your wife’s cold chill.

You Know You Have a Cold Wife If…

  • Cold WifeYour marriage feels lonely, like you’re the only one trying.
  • It feels more like you’re her roommate than her spouse.
  • Your relationship is business-like on its good days, hostile on the worst days, but never loving or affectionate.
  • She has no interest in intimacy or sex, not even a hint of desire for the bedroom.
  • Maybe you don’t really even care about the sex; you just want to feel loved again.

As you continue reading, first we’re going to figure out what type of cold wife you’re dealing with (there are 6 different kinds), then we’ll learn the most common reasons behind a wife’s chill and how you should respond to each reason.

But first, let’s make sure we know what we’re NOT talking about.

You Do NOT Have a Cold Wife If…

The Only Problem is a ‘Low Sex Drive’

Make sure that your problem with your cold wife isn’t just about sex. Your wife isn’t “cold” if she has a low sex drive.

I’ve seen way too many online forum threads started by guys complaining about not getting as much sex as they want. Of course, these guys get exactly the response they’re looking for – Other commenters chime in with stuff like, “What a cold b*tch! You deserve sex every day if you want it! Tell your wife she needs to put out or get out!”

Yeah… This type of problem doesn’t count as having a cold wife.

Are you surprised that these guys usually come back to the forum in a couple months with news of their divorce?

She Genuinely Struggles to Show Affection

Just like I and many other men struggle to show affection, many women have the same problem. She might not know what marital affection looks like.

Or, some women have a true emotional or mental disorder that makes it very difficult for them to show affection. This is usually a result of past abuse or neglectful parenting. For example, many child abusers use affection for the sole purpose of luring their victims into a sense of security… This can make any kind of affection a lifelong struggle for the victim.

Again, for the purpose of this chapter, we aren’t talking about this type of cold wife.

If this is your wife, try to be patient. If she has emotional problems or has an abusive past, look into counseling. Find her someone to talk to about her past. This is one of those things that’s out of your hands… Until you invent a time machine, you can’t go back and change your wife’s upbringing. What you can do is be patient and forgiving; you can be the rock that stands by her through thick and thin.

In this chapter we’re talking about a wife who is genuinely cold, both physically and emotionally, towards both you and the marriage.

Ready to learn why your wife is cold? Keep reading.

Which Type of Cold Wife Do You Have?
Read These 5 Common Excuses Cold Wives Make

What does your wife say to you when you try to initiate affection? How does she respond to your efforts to repair the marriage?

Through my research and talking with the men inside Husband Help Haven, I’ve identified 5 common excuses that most cold wives give for their distance from the marriage. In other words, if you try and talk to your wife about the marriage, these are the five most common reasons you’ll hear as her way of explaining what’s wrong.

Read each excuse carefully to figure out which kind of cold wife you’re dealing with. Keep in mind that every man’s situation is different and your wife may fit into multiple different excuses.

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its not you its meDoes your wife say things about needing to work on herself, or needing to “figure things out”?

Does she say that she’s “not happy right now” or “needs to get some space”? Does she have an almost sympathetic tone, as if she pities you for not seeing the marriage the same way she does?

If this is your wife, what she’s really saying to you is that she doesn’t believe you’re strong enough to take responsibility for the marriage.


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Another common excuse you’ll hear from a cold wife is that she just doesn’t feel excited by the marriage.

Maybe she’ll want to start going out way more than any married person should. Perhaps she’ll want to start going to parties and hanging out with friends. You’ll let her go, thinking that maybe she can bring some of that fun back to the marriage…

Unfortunately, things stay just as cold as ever at home.

Or, maybe things have gotten worse than that…

Maybe she’s feeling so bored that she’s looking outside the marriage for some excitement. Many times an unfaithful wife will use either this excuse or excuse #5 as a justification for her infidelity.

If this is your wife, it means that she no longer believes you can keep her excited for a lifetime. It also means that your wife is probably going through a midlife crisis.


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Is this what your wife says when you try to talk to her about your marriage?

She isn’t angry or frustrated; she just shuts down. She clams up. It’s like talking to a brick wall. She doesn’t have anything to say to you.

At its worst, this type of cold wife may even refuse to respond at all. She may literally say nothing, even if she’s totally normal and acts like nothing’s wrong when you’re out in public.

If this is your wife, what she’s really saying is “I don’t think there’s any way you can fix this problem.” She feels so hopeless that she literally doesn’t believe it’s worth the effort to try and communicate.

The type of cold wife that gives Excuse #3 and Excuse #5 are typically the most difficult to deal with because they are the most resistant to communication. By this point, she’s already mentally packed her bags.


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This is sort of a fusion of the first two excuses – the “It’s not you, it’s me” and the “I’m bored” excuses.

The difference here is that this type of cold wife is much less sympathetic than the first one. She does NOT take responsibility for her unhappiness; it’s your fault that she’s not in love with you anymore.

While the excuse here is similar to the first one, what she’s really saying is closer to the reasoning behind the second excuse. With this excuse, she’ll probably say things about there being no passion left in the marriage.

Basically, she’s saying there’s no hope – the idea of being ‘in love’ is sold by Hollywood as something that you can’t control. Since she’s not ‘in love’ anymore, there’s nothing either of you can do to change it.

What she’s saying is, “I can’t help it and I can’t change it, and you can’t change it either. There’s no passion and you can’t force me to be ‘in love’.”

… But you and I both know that it’s very possible to rebuild attraction!


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This is definitely the most difficult type of cold wife to deal with because not only does she refuse to communicate… She actively pushes you away. You have to withstand a constant barrage of attacks, and it will be very painful and very difficult.

When your wife constantly insults you, refuses to communicate with you and is repulsed by being affectionate with you, what it really means is that she’s trying to make you afraid of getting close to her.

She’s trying to make you want to leave her so that it’ll be easier for her to leave you. She’s trying to get you to do the hard work of separation by pushing you away.

You can’t let her win. Prepare yourself for the hardest battle of your life. It will feel like you can’t combat this type of cold wife, but by weathering the storm, you ARE fighting back.


The REAL Reason Your Wife is Cold & What to Do About It

Now we know the most common excuses that your wife might give for being cold. But, the excuses you just read aren’t the real reason that your wife is withdrawing from the marriage… The excuses above only reflect your wife’s personal perspective on the marriage. They’re the excuses she’ll say to you, maybe even the excuses she’ll tell herself.

No matter what she says, remember…

The excuses above aren’t the REAL reason she’s cold. As you continue reading, you’ll learn the possible reasons that really stand behind your wife’s cold shoulder.

Reason 1. She’s Having an Affair
(The Stereotypical Answer)

The most common justification you’ll hear online for a cold wife is that she’s having an affair. And it’s certainly true… An affair is a definite possibility, especially if the distance between you and your wife grew suddenly or out of nowhere. In cases like this, usually it’s an emotional affair, not a physical one.

Honestly, I don’t like this answer and it does NOT apply to most of the men reading this. I know that many of you are dealing with an affair right now, and that’s something we’ll cover more in another chapter. Until then, here’s the right response:

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Until you have real proof to justify your suspicions – something other than a change in her attitude – it’s completely pointless to worry about an affair. All that worrying will do is make YOU feel worse, and it will do nothing to actually fix the problems causing your wife to be so cold.

Think about it… Even if your wife is having an affair, you can’t do anything until you have proof. If you confront her, she’ll deny it. If you question where she’s been or who she’s been talking to, it will just push her further away.

If you really do suspect an affair, keep your eyes open. If you find hard proof of her infidelity, fine. But until then, your time is better spent trying to figure out a different reason your wife is being cold or distant.

We’ll talk more about what to do when your wife is having an affair in Chapter 18.


Reason 2. She’s Discontent
(The Most Likely Answer)

This is definitely the most common reason behind a cold wife.


She feels like the marriage has no value, like it’s not adding anything to her life. In fact, right now she may feel like everything in her life is meaningless; like she’s wasted years and years that she will never get back.

Discontentment means that something vital is missing from her life.

Discontentment means that there’s something your wife desperately needs that she’s not getting. It could be validation, attention, excitement or recognition. Either way, until she gets what she’s looking for, your marriage won’t be a priority.

It’s important to note that discontentment is often accompanied by a midlife crisis. Like we mentioned in a side note all the way back in Chapter 1, a midlife crisis happens when (A) you feel like your life has been wasted and (B) you realize that you don’t have much time left to get the life you want, so you make big changes to start getting what you think will make you happy.

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[pullquote align=”right”]Important! Remember to make sure that anything you do in an attempt to boost your wife’s self-esteem is 100% for her benefit. You cannot have ulterior motives. If the only reason you try to make your wife feel better is because you’re afraid of losing the marriage, you will simultaneously invalidate everything nice you do for your wife and push her further away. [/pullquote]

Think about this for a moment…

Ultimately, your wife’s discontentment is a problem that she must solve for herself. You can’t force your wife to feel content, because it requires a realignment of priorities on her part. That’s something you simply cannot do for her.At its core, discontentment stems from low self-esteem. For some reason, your wife doesn’t view herself as valuable. She’s probably feeling a lot of regret for decisions she’s made in her life.

What you can do is this:

  • Look for ways to communicate the impact that your wife and your marriage has had on your life.
  • Affirm her value as a human being and as a woman.
  • Remind her of positive experiences and memories you’ve built in your marriage; things that she will treasure for the rest of her life.
  • Reassure her that no matter what happens, you’ll always treasure the years you’ve spend together in the marriage.

She’s discontent because she can’t see the value that she’s created in her life right now. That means that the only way to overcome that midlife crisis is when she DOES see the value of what she’s done in her life. Do your best to show it to her.

The other way that you can help your wife find contentment in your marriage is to become content yourself. Show her what contentment looks like. Try your best to remain strong, peaceful and positive.

In most cases like this, if you can manage to keep her in the marriage – to keep her in close proximity to your leadership – then her discontentment will fade over time. Discontentment is a phase; she just needs you to stand strong and remind her what matters in life.


Reason 3. Physical, Mental or Situational Changes
(A Possible Answer)

Big changes outside of your marriage can lead to big changes inside of your marriage. This isn’t usually the real reason that your wife is cold, but it’s definitely possible.

I’ve had more than a few men come to me seeking help with a wife who became very cold following a major life change or change in her circumstances.

For example, any of these big life changes could be the reason for your wife’s cold shoulder:

  • Your wife just got a new job
  • Either you or your wife lost her job
  • You and your wife just had a new baby
  • You and your wife just miscarried a baby
  • A family member or close friend passed away
  • Either spouse gained a lot of weight relatively quickly (over the course of a year or two)

Change can be very hard to deal with, even if the change should be a good one, such as having a new baby or getting a new job. Even positive change can be very stressful. And when you’re stressed, it’s near impossible to be affectionate… It simply doesn’t sound appealing.

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The good news is that this is usually one of the easier problems to solve. Your wife is cold because she’s feeling overwhelmed. She may feel like you haven’t done enough to help her or to make her life easier. Again, this is an easy problem to fix!

What you need to do is look for little ways to make your wife’s life easier. Surprise her. Show her you’re pulling your weight. Even though she’s being cold, ask her if there’s anything you can do for her.

And yes, it’s okay to give her space if you think that will help. Often, a healthy dose of patience is all you need to get through and resolve this problem.

That being said, there are a couple pitfalls you may run into here:

First, you need to make sure that you don’t make yourself into a doormat. Be affectionate, do nice things without her asking, you can even do LOTS of nice things without her asking, but don’t be her slave.

Second, just like when your wife is discontent, make sure that whatever you do is with no ulterior motives. You should be being nice for the sake of making her life easier, not purely so that she’ll open up to you.

Remember, a man who does something for free is strong; a man who does something to win affection is begging.


Reason 4. You’re The One Being Domineering or Controlling
(Make Sure This Isn’t the Answer)

I hope this isn’t the case, but it needs to be said…

Some men believe that they’re dealing with a cold wife when the reality is that YOU are the one pushing her away.

I wasn’t going to include this in the course as a reason for a cold wife, but during my research I found an astonishing number of testimonials from women who basically said:

“Yes, I am a cold wife, but you know what? He deserves it. The only reason I’m cold is because my husband is so domineering and mean that I’ve learned it’s easier to keep my mouth shut.”

Is this you?

Maybe you’re not domineering and controlling right now, but you were in the past. Look carefully in the mirror and listen to the words that come out of your mouth… Is there ANY way you’re being overly controlling, critical or mean?

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control freakUnfortunately, it’s very hard to recover from this problem simply because it’s nearly impossible for YOU to identify. That’s the other reason why I almost didn’t include this reason in this chapter – this type of controlling behavior is extremely difficult to self-analyze.

In other words, if you really are the one being domineering or controlling, you won’t know it. You probably won’t look in the mirror and think, “Wow, you’re right, I AM domineering.”

Most men don’t know this about themselves until a third-party outside the marriage tells them, and usually they’ll need to be told several times.

If you think there is even a slight possibility that this could be the problem causing your wife to be cold, like I said, take a good hard look at yourself in the mirror. Really listen to the things you say to your wife.

Remember that for every one time you catch yourself being critical or controlling, there are five more times that you didn’t notice.

If you’re really worried, this is also one of the times where I’ll recommend a marriage counselor…

Explain to the counselor that you have a fear that you’ve been overly controlling with your wife, and ask him/her to focus on that aspect of your relationship. Your wife may be willing to open up to a third-party, and they’ll have an easier time identifying any overly controlling behavior than you will. Even if your wife won’t go with you, individual counseling may still be helpful and revealing.


Reason 5. Depression
(A Surprisingly Common Answer)

This one is probably obvious, but I’m saying it anyways. If your wife suffers from manic depression or bipolar disorder, then an occasional cold season is bound to occur in the relationship.

If managed incorrectly, an episode of depression can fester and last for months or even years. Connecting with her will be very difficult during this time, and affection will likely go out the window.

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depressionIf your wife is depressed, there are two things you need to do:

One, be strong.

Two, get help.

Be strong by drawing strength from the fact that this has nothing to do with you. Plan on ‘carrying’ the relationship during your wife’s episodes of depression. Be strong by doing your best to love your wife more than you thought possible.

… And no, I don’t mean show her that you love her more than you thought possible, I mean inside your own heart… Keep your love for your wife strong and thriving. It’s the only way you’ll get through these struggles. The moment you let yourself get frustrated with her; the moment you let yourself ask “Why can’t she just be happy?”; that’s the moment your wife will feel validated in pushing you away.

Two, when I say get help, I mean get professional help. If this has been a lifelong problem, your wife probably has some sort of medication and/or a pre-existing therapist. Make an appointment. If she doesn’t have a therapist, get one. Personally, I’d try to stay away from anti-depression meds and look to holistic answers like exercise, Vitamin D and other stuff like that.

You may or may not need a marriage counselor here. That being said, I’d avoid marriage counseling unless you can find a counselor that has special training in dealing with depression inside of a marriage. Be sure to ask for references, and ultimately trust your gut on this decision.


Reason 6. She’s the Breadwinner

wife breadwinnerI know that it’s politically incorrect to say that a marriage can’t work when the wife is the only breadwinner, but frankly, I’ve seen very few healthy, thriving marriage in which the wife was the only one making money. I’ve seen WAY more crumbling marriages in which the wife was the only one making money.

Again, I know that this is just my own experience talking. I’m not saying a single-income marriage where the wife is the one working can’t function; they’re just harder to pull off.

When the husband stays home and the wife works, it presents a lot of unique challenges that you MUST deal with, otherwise you’ll end up in a loveless marriage… Your wife will become deeply frustrated because she feels like she pulls way more than her weight in the relationship. She’ll simultaneously feel entitled to lead the marriage, and she’ll resent you for making her lead.

If you’re reading this and you recently lost your job or you’re going to school while your wife supports the family, there’s a good chance that this is the reason your wife is cold.

I know this sucks to hear, especially if you recently got laid off. But, it’s the truth, and I know you’re here reading this because you care about making a change and getting your wife back.

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As I said all the way back in Chapter 6, you can and should be the leader in your marriage even if you’re a stay-at-home dad. You do it by pulling an indisputable amount of weight both inside the household and the relationship.

Does that make sense?

In other words, you need to do so much… You need to make your wife’s life so much easier… That she CANNOT doubt you’re contribution to the marriage. Take as much off her plate as possible so that all she has to worry about is working; you’ve got everything else covered.

Also, even if your wife is the one making all the money, it’s still your job to manage that money for you and your family. Even if you’re not bringing home the bacon, it’s still your job to make sure your family is staying financially afloat. Again, that’s one of the areas of husbandly leadership we covered in Chapter 6.

The worst-case scenario is when your wife has to go to work to make all the money for your family, then come home and do all the work to keep the house running. Meanwhile, all she ever sees you do is browse Facebook and watch TV. Avoid this type of scenario at all costs!


How to Interact With a Cold Wife

We’ll talk a lot more about what to do during a separation, complete with an in-depth list of do’s and don’ts, in the next part of the course. For now, let’s talk a bit about the day-to-day communication with a cold wife, and some of the challenges you’ll face.

NOTE: Some of these rules may not apply if you’re already separated. Again, if you’re dealing with a full on separation, we’ll get to that later. Take what you can from this section, but if you still have questions, they should be answered in the next part of the course.

Striking a Balance

First, it’s important to remember that you never want to come across as desperate to your wife. If the only reason you’re trying to strike up a conversation with your wife is to try and get her to warm up, it’s not going to work. Instead, your goal in communicating with a cold wife is to let her know that you care about her, but that you won’t desperately beg for her.

That being said, you DO want your wife to know that you care about her, and that you will fight for the marriage. This is why communicating with a cold and distant wife is so challenging; you have to strike a balance between genuine, loving communication and presenting an image of confidence and self-respect.

Be Persistent, But Not Oppressive

The best way to strike this kind of balance is to be persistent in your attempts to communicate with your wife, but not oppressive.

What exactly does that mean?

Basically, it means that you should be making an attempt to strike up a conversation with your cold wife every single day. Try to spend quality time with her every single day, whether that’s sitting in bed watching a TV show or sitting down with her for dinner. Doing parenting stuff doesn’t count; this needs to be genuine one-on-one time. Even just 5 minutes is better than nothing. Take what you can get.

But! Here’s the thing… If your wife refuses your attempt at a conversation for that day, leave it be. Don’t try again until the next day. Or, another option would be to challenge her on it, although I don’t recommend doing that every single day. Once your attempt at talking fails for the day, turn to actions and gestures alone; do your best to show her affection in a loving and genuine way without using your words.

Let’s look at a hypothetical example of “persistent, but not oppressive”:

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Your wife isn’t “in love” with you anymore. You get home from work and try to talk to her about her day; she’s uninterested. Okay, fine, you move on and don’t press it. She’s uninterested in talking to you, so you don’t try and pressure her into a conversation she doesn’t want to have. After dinner, you offer to help do the dishes; she gladly accepts your help. Great! You don’t need to try and press for a conversation again or do anything else for the day – that’s good. Do the dishes, enjoy the time together that you do get, and take it one day at a time. You’re the tortoise, not the hare!


This admittedly simplistic example paints a perfect picture of persistent but not oppressive

You’re persistent in trying to communicate with her and show her affection – you attempt to talk to her about her day, she rejects you. But, then even after she rejects you, you still offer to do something nice for her. But, you’re not oppressive – you didn’t force her to have the conversation with you about her day, you just let it go. And once your attempt at striking up a conversation failed, you didn’t try to talk to her again… Instead you turned to gestures and actions in place of words.

Does that make sense?

Topics of Conversation for a Cold Wife

It’s kind of a weird question, but I’ve had a few different men contact me after reading the early bird version of MMR and ask, “What do I talk to my wife about? How do I come up with topics of conversation that won’t push her further away?”

Honestly, it’s hard to answer this question through a screen.

After all, I’m not there with you and I don’t personally know you and your wife, so it’s hard for me to give specific advice here… But, I can tell you one tactic that should always serve as a great starting point if you need help coming up with topics of conversation:

Ask questions.

And, if you really can’t think of anything to say, then guess what?

There’s no rule that says you have to be constantly talking to your wife. Again, actions speak louder than words anyways, so if you can’t think of anything to say, think of something to DO!

That being said, here are some generally safe topics of conversation:

  • Ask about or make plans for the week ahead
  • How was her day? What did she do?
  • Discussion about kids; how they’re doing, what they need, general parenting topics
  • Offer encouragement or compliments about something she did or is doing
  • Talk about fond memories, ie. “Remember when we [insert memory]…?” (try to have a reason for bringing up this memory, otherwise she might think you’re just trying to change her feelings about the marriage)
  • What does she want out of life? (can be a risky topic)
  • Ask her if she can think of something you should be doing, either in the marriage or otherwise (also risky, but can be very helpful if she’s willing to talk about it)

This certainly isn’t the end-all list of things you’re allowed to discuss with a cold wife; it’s simply meant to give you some ideas if you can’t think of anything to talk about.

Be the Fire Your Marriage Needs

Ultimately, you’re not going to change your cold wife’s heart in a single day. It’s not going to happen, and that shouldn’t be your goal. Your goal is to be consistently affectionate; to be a consistently good communicator; to be persistent but not oppressive. Chances are, nothing you say will change your wife’s heart; it’s going to be actions and attitudes that reignite her attraction over time.

I’ll be frank – communicating with a cold wife is one of the most difficult challenges a man can face in a marriage. It will make you feel lonely, frustrated and like a failure.

But it CAN be done. You will get through this.

You can rekindle your marriage and survive your wife’s chill. Best of all, when you do, you’ll be able to enjoy the happiest and most loving marriage of your life.

Even if your marriage isn’t facing serious problems, remember that everyone has to deal with a cold wife from time to time. Just like you, sometimes your wife will be in a bad mood. Sometimes she won’t want to talk to you. Sometimes you’ll annoy her and sometimes she’ll want some space and time to herself.

That’s okay! A cold wife doesn’t have to mean the end of the marriage. It doesn’t even have to lead to serious problems.

The important thing is that even when your wife is cold, you remain dedicated to her and to keeping an open line of communication. Even if she needs some space, she should never feel neglected… She should KNOW that you’re there to help and support her if/when she needs you.

In the next part of this course (starting with the next chapter), you’ll learn more about the specific actions you can/should be taking, and what things you can do depending on your specific situation, whether you’re dealing with an affair, separation, or just need help being the best husband you can be.

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There are 5 common excuses that a cold wife will give you when you try to talk about the marriage:

  • “It’s not you, it’s me.”
  • “We’re so boring.”
  • “I just don’t want to talk about it.”
  • “I’m just not ‘in love’ with you anymore.”
  • “Stop trying to control me.”

Each of these excuses has a hidden meaning to it that reveals what your wife really thinks about the marriage. However, these excuses are almost never the REAL reason your wife is cold.

Here are the 6 most common reasons for a cold wife:

  1. She’s having an affair.
  2. She’s discontent in the marriage and/or with her life in general.
  3. She’s feeling overwhelmed by major life changes.
  4. YOU are actually the overly controlling one, and it’s pushed her away.
  5. She’s coping with depression.
  6. She’s the sole breadwinner and feels like you don’t contribute.

Identify the real reason that your wife is cold, then follow The Right Response directions in each section to know what to do.

In the end, your job as the husbandly leader is to make your love hotter than her chill! Be strong!

[thrive_link color=’blue’ link=’’ target=’_self’ size=’big’ align=’aligncenter’]Go to Chapter 14. Optimal Daily Habits for a Husbandly Leader[/thrive_link]


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