Stop Pursuing Your Spouse

Hello. Dr. Huizenga here.

80% of Couples Struggle with This

My experience as a Marriage and Family Therapist over the past 3 decades tells me that 80% of couples struggle with the Pursuer-Distancer Merry-Go-Round. (The 20% struggle with other patterns. I go into detail describing the Red, Yellow and Green Marriages in the Advanced Module of the Marriage Intensive Modules in my Online Course.)

One pursues. This person wants more, tries to initiate conversations or activities or takes the lead in connecting.

The other distances: refuses to respond actively or passively, stonewalls or reacts to create distance.

The Merry-Go-Round

And the result is exceedingly common: once the pursuer stops pursuing (and becomes the distancer) the one who distanced becomes frightened and often becomes the pursuer.)

The now pursuer eventually runs into an impasse and again becomes the distancer as the other again initiates the pursuing.

And the Merry-Go-Round continues.

Remember, this happens in 80% of marriages or relationships of emotional investment. And, the switch from pursuer to distancer to pursuer may happen weekly, daily and sometimes almost hourly, depending on the level of tension and reactivity.

How do you get off the Merry-Go-Round?

I offer you two resources to begin your thinking about this process.

And, once you begin to see it, to recognize it, you begin the process of changing it.

1 First, Sign up and download “8 Keys to Addressing the Core Issues in Your Marriage, without upsetting your spouse.

The download leads you to the “Quick Marriage Turn Around” and THE most powerful Tool in getting off the Merry-Go-Round, “Charging Neutral.”

2 After you sign up for the FREE Download, study the infographic to learn more.

This infographic will reveal the most powerful and simple way to stop divorce or infidelity in its track.

stop pursuing

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Leave A Reply (12 comments So Far)


  1. dianah
    3 years ago

    Have done these suggestions. I’m sure they can work to some extent. Unfortunately I was told by our psychologist that my husband is conflict avoidant. Period. There is no good, no bad, just indifference. 30+ yrs of living his “secret” life on his terms has changed nothing except dumping all the pain on me. His remark to the disclosure a few months later refering to the past & present “it really didn’t affect my life it only affected yours.” In cases of pathological personality, NOTHING can ever work. Very heartbreaking to say I will walk away from nearly 40 yrs of marriage knowing I never really matterrd.


  2. Bob Huizenga
    3 years ago

    Dianah… Some do become stuck in a pattern from which they cannot emerge healthy and well. Some do lack an innate capacity to emotionally connect with another. In my experience as a therapist, I’ve discovered those with that lack to be rare. But they do exist and it seems that definition fits your husband. However, I want you to realize that the true loser in this situation will be him and not you. His life is extremely narrow and one dimensional. You have an opportunity to learn and expand your world. He does not. I wish you the best.


  3. Anne
    3 years ago

    Ive been trying for a long time to do this but was to scared to let go, i have succesfully let her go ,im not saying she moved back in yet, but the results seem to be encouraging she is doing more for me and the kids, cookies changing the sheets folds laundry if i didnt get around to it atc.


  4. Ava
    3 years ago

    I only started by doing this 2days ago and I have no idea what will happen . I feel he’s very distant depressed embarrassed . I’m just confused myself at the moment . Thinking he’s the one who has done wrong , he’s the one who should be trying but no he’s in a depression mode at the moment.
    It makes me upset at first angry but now upset.


  5. Kim
    1 year ago

    I have seperated for 11 months but we seen each as a family every other weekend starting after being apart for first 1 1/2 months starting mid May 2015 through June and on Mothers Day and Fathers Day. Then seen each several days over the 4th of July Holiday but not on the 4th of July to watch fireworks at neighbors party. Then spent my birthday weekend hanging out mid July. Same in August but from mid August on and on our Anniversary on August 22nd went to dinner, and then started dating each other until first week of October. He was stressed with new dept. developing and offered to meet up with nice dinner waiting at favorite restaurNt with my son as found out had to fly out of town last minute for work, and I had brought up asking if would lik to attend two upcoming Halloween parties that we used to go too. He was instantly got very aggravated and said was not interested in going. Said tired of going through me to see son. That I need to work on myself and he in himself but that does not want to see me again. I thought it was a nice gesture to meet him for dinner since he would no longer be able to spend time on his weekend due to a last minute work obligation. He talked very little too me in October and started to warm up the night he returned home early from a 5 day trip to Florida that he shortened and returned my son in 3 1/2 days. He hung up with me and my family for 3 1/2 hours like we had never been seperated and we’re still together. Laughed, talked, joked, and caught up on old times played charade games with my son and us and had a few drinks and gave me a hug and kiss good bye and talked to me in private too for a few minutes. Did not see him much in December but talked on phone and then he decided he wanted to spend as much time as possible with my son and I on when we returned from Christmas trip to see family the second week of vacation. From that point on we seen each other together as a family and dated each other alone on weekends up through the first weekend of February on last dinner date and then went to neighbors Super Bowl party. He had to travel before and up to the day before Valentines Day, and was waiting for him to bring up getting together but didn’t so I casually asks on a few occasions and up until midweek before Valentine’s Day because he was leaving Thursday out of town for work.
    We began attending the church my son had been attending and getting Pastoral Christian Counsekung for past 6 months and he attended my re-baptism and took lady and male pastors and several others to dinner to celebrate baptism. My husband seen the make pastor once in fall and again in December and came to church twice and did
    Couple counseling session after church and agreed would contact male pastor when could make time in his busy work schedule this time of year. My husband did not call him back that week so I asked him about it midweek and says real busy right now. The pastor offers a couple other times to meet that would around his schedule but no response so I tried to get an appt scheduled for them but did not hear back from husband that Friday in which appt was scheduled for 6:30pm and then they said or offer 7pm, but if coukd get back with me before 5pm or 6pm at the latest. Otherwise the pastor said would have to try another day but knew he would be traveling next fees weeks so as trying to encourage him to meet up bc just noticed on Tuesday that week he put down new deposit on a rental home that discovered on my credit card that he did not tell me about. We had a few longer and late evening talks the week before because we would have a nice time dating or hanging out and would get snuggle but then he would say
    don’t want to get frustrated or take it too far because clock will start ticking all over again.
    That took me by surprise so had a feelings talks to see where he was at with us. He hates taking about relationship and long talks into later evening but only available when gets off works and often works long hours. He said between me calling him on cell phone at work and trying his office line after 4:30pm on a Friday with no answer I texted and emailed in case was in a meeting as he told me to do in years past, that made him made, and also the one talks. He had to make a decision on where we were at and did not want to move back home as some things better somewhat but others not changed so did not feel confident about us, so signed a one year lease. That got me really concerned, and wanted to have some talks to better understand where he was at and where things going. He said I was just hanging out for our son’s sake the last month and half through holidays and his birthday. I said we dated too and you seemed like had good time. He said yes but last time went out it was awkward and did not know what to say to you so was quiet and you talked most of the time. I can’t talk to you. You are also now good friends again with my friend that got me my new job so don’t trust you and around my new job. They have asked recently to get managers wives together to build rapport but don’t trust to do that with you and if you’ll be punctual or if will say anything. I said about our status right now. He said about anything with us or work related. Also about being punctual. I said I’ve been punctual to everything since you’ve been back around. He said one time I hung out with our son a few minutes bc you asked me too and you were spraying your hair in bathroom. I said my son asked special for you to hang out with me alone before we went out and I said ok. I told you that when you came into the house. He said the male pastor he met twice and then once with us together is great but they believe you accept and then the changes come in own and naturally from spouses instead of changing and then accepting one another. And said that way also the change is maintained because it was not forced change. My husband who is very analytical said that does not make logical sense. I’m sorry. Logic speaks to me and have a hard time with that one. He said so no point in going to see male pastor.
    We tried counseling a few times but he would only go a couple of times and quit. He says he never realized how much he does not have control in this martiage whether it’s getting control over finances but in same breath says finances are no longer a problem bc took better job that have to work my guts out but like it. I said I’ve been on time when we go out but he said one time wasn’t and that periodically my son has not been either to school. He has been depressed with this situation and his dad separating from us for third time in 5 years, and announced he gave a retainer last week. My son is getting effected again by this and really hard to wake him up in morning bc so drained by this and myself. I promised would try as hard as possible for the one year period but now this has happened. Think he acted out of anger from me trying to set up meeting with pastor and calling him end of day on Friday at work and he was in a meeting and from a couple of long talks later into evening. One on a weekend and the other on week night.
    The pastors, myself, and my son really thought things were going well but not now.
    Wondering if I pushed him away by trying too much? Any feedback appreciated.


  6. Dave M
    1 year ago

    my spouse calls that the indifference (“you were in deferent for years”) that caused her to “check out”
    When actually I don’t believe her, because cheaters always blame and expect someone else to fix things while their power is directed by looking for nonsense excuses under the eggshells to get pissed at you.
    My therapist was pretty accurate by saying prepare yourself to be alone and be strong and not give her any excuses, for what she’s waiting for, to blame. In other words, detach


  7. DEBORAH
    10 months ago

    I HOPE THIS WORKS. I HAVE BEEN DOING THE “DANCE” FOR 6 MONTHS NOW AND HE DOESN’T RESPOND AT ALL….NO CALLS, VISITS MY SON ONLY WHEN I AM NOT AT HOME, HAS YET TO ASK ME OUT, SHOWS NO INTEREST, IS PLAYING MIND GAMES WITH THE WORD DIVORCE, ETC. I ONLY SEE HIM AT CHURCH AND THEN HE WON’T TALK OR MAKE EYE CONTACT. I DO NOT BELIEVE THERE IS ANYONE ELSE IN HIS LIFE RIGHT NOW. I AM TIRED OF ALL THE STRESS OF TRYING TO SAVE THE MARRIAGE ALONE. SO, I HAVE DECIDED TO DO NOTHING MORE OTHER THAN FOCUS ON ME AND OUR CHILD. HE HAS BEEN GONE 6 MONTHS SO I HOPE YOUR STRATEGY WILL WORK.


  8. B
    8 months ago

    I’ve been doing the dance for 7 months and have grown extremely weary. My wife says she loves me (but only as a response to my telling her that I love her) and wants to work on the marriage but doesn’t cooperate and is always fine tuning my changes. Never really interested in me and only responds to my affections, no initiative on her part. I’m done! I love her dearly and unconditionally but I can’t do this alone anymore. So 10 days ago I started doing my own thing. Without her. Sunday’s was always our night to play golf and this past Sunday I planned to play with a friend instead. That seemed to get her attention. I’ll let you know how it goes.


  9. k
    6 months ago

    I stopped pursuing several months ago. I don’t think it’s working. We just both feel lonely now. Lonely together. I think a major part of it is that she never really got over her affair partner. She’s still pining for him and I’ve seen her attempts to reach him on the phone bill over the past year and a half. (he’s the one enforcing the No Contact, not her)
    Two months ago, she told me to keep trying, and at that moment I lost the enthusiasm for the game. There’s only so much rejection I can take, and I was being asked to continue enduring rejection until she was ready. At that point I just couldn’t do it anymore. That was the last time I tried to put my arm around her, or tell her I love her in the hopes she’d say it back. Just done.
    Now we’re just co-existing. She seems to be slowly trying to do more fun things together, but I’ve seen nothing to indicate that she really wants to be here. If anything she’s more relaxed knowing that I’m not going to try to hug her or anything.


  10. Al
    6 months ago

    If my partner is a narcissist with a 40 year history of failed relationships I have my doubts anything I do will change her avoidant behavior. I will try, but I think she will just leave, and after 7 years, I am ready to give up.

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