Q&A with Geoff: How Can I Get My Wife to Care About My Pain?

q&a with geoff May 10, 2023


I’ve been married a little over two years. At first, it was great, but then not long after we married, she started being on her phone pretty much any free time and now it has become a distraction in our marriage. It’s to the point where when she goes to bed, she is constantly on it until sometimes two in the morning.

I lay there alone and feel betrayed. I’ve also discovered that she talks to some of her ex-boyfriends on social media, which I’m not OK with. How do I confront her in a nice way to have her put her phone away? I’ve asked her if she can put her phone away when we go to bed, and she just plain says, “Nope,” and continues like she’s addicted to her phone.


I see the hurt and confusion you’re experiencing in your new marriage. Of course, it’s painful that she’s turning away from you in favor of her phone as well as contacting ex-boyfriends. However, it’s also concerning that your attempts to address these observations are disregarded. It makes sense that you’re worried, so let’s talk about how to proceed.

You can certainly raise the intensity and make demands, but I’ve never found this to be a productive way to resolve anything in a relationship. You’ve already asked her to do something different and she’s refusing. Instead, I recommend you approach this situation by seeking to understand why she’s disregarding your concerns. Instead of getting her to change her behavior, see if you can have a different type of discussion about why your concerns are being completely disregarded. Issues come and go in marriage, but caring about each other’s pain creates relationship safety.

Your wife may not realize the extent of the impact her behavior is having on you and your marriage. Most of us completely minimize the impact we’re having on those we love. It’s important to start the conversation by expressing how you feel without attacking or accusing her. For example, you could say something like, “I’m hurt by your response to my concerns with your phone use. Is there a reason you’re ignoring my pain?”

There are significant issues to discuss, but the real issue is her indifference to your pain. If your attempts to have her care about the impact she’s having on you go nowhere, this is important feedback about the state of your relationship. Trying to talk about the phone issues or ex-boyfriend issues won’t produce any movement until there’s care and concern for your pain.

She might have reasons for turning away from you, so if she starts sharing, make sure you slow down and listen. Her avoidance isn’t healthy, obviously, but it might be a protest that something isn’t working for her. There are important things to address that can significantly impact the future of your relationship. Checking out on her phone and talking with ex-boyfriends are huge red flags that can’t be ignored. Hopefully, she can care about how these impact you.

If she continues to push you away, see if she’ll agree to visit with a marriage counselor who can help you resolve the impasse. If that fails and she continues to ignore you and your concerns, it may require more drastic measures. Don’t hesitate to seek guidance and counseling for yourself to find out what you can do going forward. You can’t change her or make her talk to you, but you can stay congruent with your deepest values as you make tough decisions about your future.

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