A Look at Marriage and Alexithymia (the “Unfeeling” Personality)

A Look at Marriage and Alexithymia (the “Unfeeling” Personality)

1 min 30 sec read
Most people in relationships have felt, at one time or another, a lack of communication. A common gender trope has a woman griping to her friends, “He just won’t open up.” But it’s not always about the differences in genders. Sometimes a person doesn’t open up because they honestly don’t know what they’re feeling. The inability to understand, express, and describe one’s emotional experience has a name: alexithymia.

Graine Mediation | A Look at Marriage and AlexithymiaAlexithymia, while effectively isolating a person emotionally, does not always prevent them from getting along well enough to end up married. A spouse with alexithymia, though, will have a lot of trouble relating to their partner and expressing how they feel. This is extremely troublesome in a marriage.

Doctoral student Nick Frye-Cox found that, “People with alexithymia are always weighing the costs and benefits, so they can easily enter and exit relationships. They don’t think others can meet their needs, nor do they try to meet the needs of others."

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Many marriages end in a nebulous way, wherein the couple involved can’t pinpoint exactly what happened. “We don’t understand each other” and “I feel like I’m living with a stranger” are often used. What if the gradual drifting apart, often seen as inevitable as the slow drifts of continents, can actually be linked back to a partner suffering from alexithymia? If you feel you or your partner may suffer from this, there are free available tests such as this one. Speaking to a psychologist may also be helpful and could forestall the need for a divorce, or at least help you better understand yourself for future relationships.

Written with assistance from: Jane Baber, Mediation Assistant

[1] http://psychcentral.com/news/2012/11/13/alexithymia-emotional-disconnect-challenges-marriages/47574.html

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