Rejection or Protection? Perception. . .

150 150 Lee H. Baucom, Ph.D.

You are working on your marriage.  You reach out toward your spouse. . . only to feel rejected.

After that stops you in your tracks.  You start doubting yourself, your efforts, your plan. . . .


What if your spouse was not really intending to reject you?

What if something else was going on?

What if I told you that almost always (I would say “always,” but then someone would work hard to prove me wrong), it is not really an attempt to reject.

It is really an attempt to protect.

Not “protect you.”  But “protect themselves.”

What?  You say, “They don’t need to protect themselves!”

But that doesn’t mean they don’t feel the need to protect themselves.


They really get us in trouble.  You feel it as rejection.  It was meant for protection.  The problem is, your perception could throw you off, cause you to pull up, abandon your plan, and wallow in pain.

Or you could understand it from your spouse’s perception. . . .

Listen to the podcast below.

Why Connection Matters
Connection and Perception
Dealing With Pushback
System to Save Your Marriage

Lee H. Baucom, Ph.D.

Dr. Baucom is internationally known for his methods and approaches to saving marriages. For over 25 years, Dr. Baucom has been helping people around the world to save, restore, and create the relationships they desire and deserve. He is the author of the book, How To Save Your Marriage In 3 Simple Steps, and creator of the Save The Marriage System, as well as numerous other resources.

All stories by: Lee H. Baucom, Ph.D.
  • RS

    Dr. Baucom, thanks for this and all of your podcasts. I’ve been utilizing your system and it has definitely both made a difference, and preserved my sanity, in the last 6 months since I discovered my wife’s emotional infidelity (complete with the all-too-common “I love you but I’m not IN love with you” statement). We have two young children and are still together, and both of us have deep feelings for the family we have created and are very protective of that (the family, more so than the marriage; in my wife’s mind they are two different things whereas I see them as a whole). It’s been a rocky road to recovery, but there have been moments of warmth and tenderness. Despite the progress, my wife is still not “all in” with regards to reconciling due to a number of reasons: feelings for the OM that she is trying to resolve on her own and through counseling, “mid-life crisis” feelings, guilt and shame issues (especially since the OM’s wife recently discovered her spouse’s involvement with my spouse), body issues (peri-menopause, hot flashes, etc). She feels that the passage of time & the return of “normalcy” (we remodeled our kitchen this summer, ouch) will be instrumental in reconciliation.

    As I said, we have had some nice “easy” moments where things feel almost as they did when we first got together 12 years ago. But the physical side of things is slow to return: I am often the one to reach out to her to establish connection through hugs, a kiss goodbye or goodnight, etc (though she has taken initiative at times). We have not had sex for 6 months now; there have been a few occasions, where the conditions seemed right, only for her to say “I can’t be intimate with you now, I don’t want to be pressured into sex” (and believe me, I am not “pressuring” — it’s very gentle, using “I miss you” language”). I can handle a lot of things in terms of working on myself, Dr. Baucom; working on improving the communication, being fully present in the relationship, working on myself, changing my perceptions, etc, but I am at a loss as to how to proceed as far as restoring intimacy. It does feel like rejection; I’d even be willing to look at it as “protection” but protection from what? Being afraid that I will somehow disappoint her again as I once did? At what point does one begin to trust again? I really feel like, at this point, she should at least try to let go and “get back on the bicycle”; I have certainly changed, she can see it and has commented on it and appreciates it. And yet I get frustrated at times; I was the one who was betrayed, but I feel like I’m still being punished b/c of these blocks that are in the way of our intimacy. Can you help me make sense of this, please, or suggest ways I can help foster more trust between us that will open the doors to real intimacy? I understand that it’s vitally important to have the friendship there first, and I don’t want to skip any steps, but how does one move past the rejection/protection feelings to the next phase?

  • Hi RS,
    Thanks for sharing. I want you to note your response, “it does feel like rejection.” You note you would be willing to look at it as protection, but you aren’t sure what is being protected. Might I suggest that instead of us guessing what the protection is about, just to assume that is what is going on?
    You continue with something important: “I FEEL like I’m still being punished b/c of these blocks….” First, note it is a feeling, not necessarily the intent or desire. Second, note that you see the actions as “blocks.” If your spouse is uncomfortable, there is some evidence that your relationship is not ready for that. The evidence? One of you feels unready.
    That takes us back to working on building the connection.
    RS, this isn’t the best spot for coaching, as I’m sure you know. I do have Relationship Coaching (by myself and my team), and I have the Virtual Coaching Program. If you are interested, just contact me.