“You can do anything but not everything.—David Allen

emotionally exhausted

Emotional exhaustion can wreak havoc on your marriage if you don’t take action.

Whether you feel worn down from parenting, work, other people, or situations, you can’t show up as your best self when you’re emotionally exhausted. And over time, this erodes all 6 Pillars of Intimacy®.

The good news is that there are five practical steps you can take to manage your emotional exhaustion and make your marriage strong again.

Emotional exhaustion is “a state of feeling emotionally worn out and drained as a result of accumulated stress from your personal or work lives, or a combination of both.”

This feeling of emotional exhaustion is one sign of burnout. It can make you feel like you have no control over what’s happening around you. You might feel stuck or trapped.

In your life, this might look like constantly replaying certain situations—whether past or present—over and over in your head. It doesn’t have to be a marriage situation. All areas of life can leave you emotionally exhausted.

But when something else is zapping you of all your emotional energy, you have nothing left to give to the relationship that matters most: your marriage.

It’s even possible to become emotionally exhausted by other people’s situations. You may find yourself wanting to give solutions or help someone else at the cost of your spouse.

In fact, 87% of the ONE Family reported struggling with feeling like there is something, whether a situation or a person, that is taking the energy they would otherwise give to their spouse or marriage.

That’s a significant percentage. It’s a good reminder that almost everyone struggles with this at some point. But it doesn’t have to stay this way.

You have to get to the bottom of what is causing you to be emotionally exhausted and decide what you will do about it.

Based on data from the ONE Family, the biggest consumer of emotional energy is kids at 40%, followed by work at 32%.

Raising children is rewarding but hard. Parenting through challenging behaviors, preparing for huge transitions, or facing heartbreaking loss can affect how you interact with your spouse.

Similarly, stress from work can leave you overwhelmed, overstimulated, and more prone to conflict when you’re at your wit’s end.

Other factors, such as financial stress or extended family dynamics, can leave you wiped out emotionally.

If your emotional exhaustion reaches a certain point, the foundation of your marriage will start to crumble because you’ve neglected all of your 6 Pillars of Intimacy®.

As a result, you may experience fewer conversations (emotional intimacy), less touch (physical intimacy), hidden purchases (financial intimacy), less prayer or connection (spiritual intimacy), reduced time together (recreational intimacy), and lack of intercourse (sexual intimacy).

If you prioritize your marriage, you know that energy-sucking situations are not worth the risk to your relationship. But you must be willing to take action to get your emotional energy back in alignment.

There are five steps to help you get started.

First, identify what is exhausting you. Don’t just keep saying you’re tired without knowing what’s wearing you down.

Second, explore what you can do about it. Can you change your environment? For example, can you get childcare support from friends or family or find a new job with less stress?

You should also consider the impact your words and attitude have on your perspective of the situation. Shifting either of these may help you minimize the weight you feel.

Third, make a decision. Don’t waste time wondering if some action will cure you of feeling emotionally exhausted. There won’t be an instant fix, but you won’t know if something works until you try it. So try!

One fun idea is to take a “day-cation” at a local resort. Spend the whole day relaxing and reconnecting with each other.

You may also need to examine your habits. Cut out any that lead to exhaustion, such as constant doom scrolling on social media or neglecting exercise.

Fourth, identify what recharges you. Although you should identify external factors that are draining you, it’s also important to focus on what you can do to recharge yourself. For example, start a gratitude journal, spend more time outdoors, or plan a fun night out with your spouse.

Finally, ask how you can begin connecting with your spouse again in a pillar of intimacy that might feel easier to bridge the gap between the two of you. For instance, try holding hands or spending time together to help build back the intimacy.

If you’ve been stuck in the cycle of emotional exhaustion for a while, you may benefit from the help of a third party, such as a marriage coach. You can apply today for marriage coaching to start repairing the damage caused by emotional exhaustion.

Recovering from emotional exhaustion is not always simple, but it is worth it for the sake of your marriage.


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