Emotional calls are both your wife's attempt and your attempt to connect with each other. They show up in a variety of ways, from the mundane, "how was your day?" To the more direct, "we never have quality time together anymore."
The foremost researcher on marriages, Dr. John Gottman, says that healthy couples respond positively to 86% of each other emotional calls, while unhealthy couples (those on their way to a divorce) only respond to 33% of them.
In this sense, a positive response is an acknowledgment of the emotional call. Your wife sends you dozens of these every day. How many of them are you ignoring?
These connection attempts are an essential part of any relationship. These are attempts to reach out, to start a dialogue, and to connect. You must be on the lookout for emotional calls so that you can RESPOND to them. As mentioned above, almost 9 out of 10 of them need to be responded to for your marriage to be considered healthy.
This takes work. It takes a mindful approach to your relationship for you even to notice these attempts. Yes, your wife SHOULD also be responding to yours. The best way to make that happen is by responding to hers. Show your wife that she matters, and you'll notice a change in how she responds to you.
If your marriage is in a bad spot, start with focusing on your wife's emotional calls. She is trying to reach out to you; you should reach back. This is the same as her reaching out to you for a hand while you ignore it. If this happens often enough, your marriage will suffer.
Wanna Know a Secret?
Most of us want, more than anything else, what we aren't getting. With most people, that's attention and recognition. We can never seem to get enough of it. That's why you must give your marriage all the attention and recognition that you can provide it.
This is the basis of emotional attachment. In psychology, attachment is a deep and enduring bond that connects one person to another across space and time. According to attachment theory, our early relationships (with our parents or other primary caregivers) help to shape our expectations of relationships later on in life. That doesn't mean it solidifies them, but it does affect how we connect with others.
If your primary caregivers consistently met your needs and were there for you when growing up, then you would generally grow up feeling secure in relationships.
If they weren't there for you, were negligent, or didn't give you the love and care that you needed, then you would, very likely, adopt an anxious or avoidant attachment style.
The 3 Attachment Styles
If you want to get a better understanding of why your wife may be behaving towards you (or you towards her), it's essential to understand her (your) attachment style.
Secure Attatchment Style
It's been said that about half the population has a secure attachment style. That means they are usually reliable and are relationship-oriented. People with this attachment style are open to communication and are comfortable talking about their thoughts and feelings. They will often respond to their partner's needs and are comfortable with intimacy.
Anxious Attachment Style
People with an anxious attachment style love relationships and being intimate but are consistently worried about their partner not feeling the same way. They need constant reassurance that they are loved. Wives with this attachment style come across as clingy, needy, and possessive. They are prone to jealousy and are always on the lookout for rejection.
Avoidant Attachment Style
A person with an avoidant attachment style has a low view of themselves and others, which causes them to pull back from a relationship. It's not that they don't desire to be in a relationship (because they do), it's that they are scared of being rejected. They feel that if they never get close enough to be hurt, then they won't be. This attachment style will also avoid talking about feelings because they fear being judged (and thus rejected).
Understand your attachment style will help your marriage. Understanding your wife's will allow you to reach her in ways that she never thought possible. This is why emotional calls are so critical. You can't miss them. If your wife has started acting strange towards you, more than likely, it's because she doesn't feel important. She may even be pulling back from you because of it as she is trying to protect herself.
So, pay attention to those calls. Respond to them. Don't leave her hanging. You have the power to change things around in your marriage, you just must be willing to make a few changes. I believe in you.