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Silent Divorce – the Non-intimate Marriage


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silent divorce Christian marriage counselling counseling

George Hartwell M.Sc.

Silent divorce - the death of real marriage - let us examine the issues.  How and why does this happen?

Why do we avoid intimacy?

Among the many reasons and personalities that avoid intimacy and thereby set up silent divorce:

Eight ways that we neglect marital intimacy and end up in silent divorce?

There are many ways that one can limit the personal, the connection, the bonding, the love connection in a marriage or sexually active couple relationship and end up in a silent divorce.


6 ways that fear motivated control blocks marital intimacy and create the silent divorce?

Fear and the associated lack of trust is always with a high need to be in control.  Where trust is low control is high.  People that have basic trust do not have to control others.  One does not feel secure until one achieves full control of close relationships.  The more fear, the more insecurity the more one becomes very controlling of other people.  And the more control the more love is destroyed.  Love and control cannot exist together.

When love is destroyed, silent divorce ensues. Here are some to the ways control manifests in a relationship:


What  does the ‘Life Avoidant’ Personality look like?

There is a personality type that is associated with avoidance of risk. Such persons are basically in flight from life and use manipulation and control to consolidate this flight. Such people become very controlling in order to remove the risk of living. Maybe they are not good at 'self-soothing' - that is, they do not do a good job of controlling their own anxiety.

The 'life-avoidant' personality is a prime candidate for a silent divorce. Here is how life avoidance shows up in a relationship:

Jesus comments on life-avoidance in the parable of the talents

In Jesus parable about failure to risk (Matthew 25:24-30) the risk avoidant “wicked, lazy servant” ends up losing what they have. That worthless servant is thrown out into the darkness!

So, according to Jesus, it is inevitable that whoever buries his talent will lose what he thinks he has. Without trust (courage) there is no risk.  Without risk, there is no growth.  Without growth (movement forward), there is death!

How  this happens:

When the avoidant partner avoids all personal communication, adult consultation, playful interaction and all correction or negative feedback, then the other partner will be lonely and vulnerable for communication intimacy.

When the avoidant partner minimizes all kissing, hugging, caressing and being affectionately physical together then both partner will end up ‘touch’ starved.

When the genital sexual relationship does not develop into heart to heart bonding because of the avoidance of eye contact, stepping away from the afterglow period then a powerful opportunity to deepen the marital bond and feed and nurture one another’s spirits is missed.

When decisions are not shared together, requests are not made, discussion does not happen the life together must of necessity become life apart from one another.

Both of the partners begin to deaden within, the heart sickens, the spirit languishes, one lives with constant residual depression and a search for life outside of the marriage becomes as search for life, love at the emotional and spiritual level.  One strongly hungers and thirsts for that which will lift one spirits, heal one’s heart, rekindle one’s passion and bring the experience of community and intimacy to one’s soul.

By God’s design there is a powerful oneness created in sexual union, in cleaving to one’s wife, in becoming one with her.  But Jesus is right.  After years of neglect (the burial of the possibility by the one ine flight from life) even that powerful God-given oneness does die.


When Silent Divorce becomes Legal Divorce

People will differ in how they handle silent divorce, the weakening and finally the death of the marital bond.  Once we recognize that what God puts together sometimes man pulls asunder, not just legally but by neglect, by avoidance, by head in the sand living, by burial of one’s talent, then we are open to learn where people are at and how they are dealing with that reality.

Some couples are not motivated to destroy the appearance of marriage and so keep up the appearance of marriage that we call ‘silent divorce.’  If you observe closely you may find that they also become more distant from God.  Some couples make strong efforts to mend and restore their broken hearts and recreate a healthy marital bond.  In some one, or both, partners will move on in the direction of life, love and communion with God.

© Silent divorce is by George Hartwell, all rights reserved, June 2006 George Hartwell M.Sc.

On my Blog HealMyLife.blogspot.com see Avoiding Love.
On my web site: www.ex-harmony.com see what happens if we mess with God's plan for love, sex and marriage.  What happens if we avoid close personal encounters that create the marriage bond or the love bond.