Helpful Advice for Marriage Loneliness
On the day you got married, it likely seemed like you and your partner would always make each other happy. But emotions are complicated, and difficult feelings surface in marriage in unexpected ways. Take this message I got recently:
"We have been married for a year and a half, and I love my husband very much. But, even with all the time we spend together, I still feel lonely in my marriage. I guess I thought that the decision to spend our lives together would have an impact on that, but loneliness still nags at me. What can I do to feel less lonely as a married person?"
I really appreciate the honesty of anyone willing to ask about, and deal with, marriage loneliness. If you feel lonely in marriage, you're not the only one. I read an article where about 30% of people surveyed felt lonely, even though they were married. But there's good news: there are practical steps you can take to address and heal from loneliness in a marriage. Here are some things I have found helpful, and I hope they help you, too.
Understand What Loneliness Is (And isn't)
Many people think of loneliness as being alone. But that's not the case. Perhaps you can think of a time when you were by yourself, enjoying a place or activity you love, and feeling content. Loneliness isn't a lack of people, it's a lack of connection.
So, to understand how to deal with loneliness in a marriage, we have to remember that in order to get to the bottom of things more readily:
- Do you feel less connected with friends?
- Do you feel less connected with your spouse?
- Do you feel less connected with part of yourself, or with something you used to enjoy doing?
- Did you lose someone close to you, and are you grieving that loss of connection?
Answering these questions helps pin down the source of loneliness, which can help you make a plan to address and alleviate it more completely.
Talk to Your Spouse About Loneliness
Once you've had time and space to think through why you feel lonely in your marriage, you can talk to your spouse about it in a way that shares how you're hurting, or what you feel is missing, without lashing out or blaming your spouse for a problem or challenge. Even if something they did or said contributed to a lack of connection, it will do more harm than good to talk about it in an accusing way.
You could say something like:
- "I haven't been feeling as connected to you lately. Let's spend some special time together."
- "I've really been missing a friend of mine. Is there a night next week I can plan a dinner with her?"
- "I've been thinking about how much I miss painting. Can you help me set up an easel in the garage?"
- "It's been hard for me to connect with people since my grandfather died. Can we talk about him for a while?"
This opens up the conversation, instead of turning it into a conflict and closing it down. As you're talking, don't forget to ask your spouse if they feel lonely, too. There may be an opportunity for each of you to learn how to better connect with one another.
Discover Your Love Languages
Have you ever heard of Gary Chapman's book, The 5 Love Languages? Our love language refers to how we give love, and the forms of love that are most powerful to us. Sometimes, when couples are missing out on a sense of connection, it helps to think about what your love languages are. The two of you may have very different ways of expressing and receiving love. So, it is important to understand what communicates love to your spouse. It is likely that you both give and receive love in primarily one of the following ways:
- Quality Time: Spending quality time means being intentional about your time together, unplugging from distractions, and focusing on one another.
- Words of Affirmation: Encouraging, kind words can really make a difference in how connected we feel to our spouse.
- Physical Touch: Romance, intimacy, and physical touch are an important part of healthy marriages.
- Acts of Service: Doing something to help your spouse, whether it's a chore, an errand, or a meal, can relieve their stress and help them feel more connected to you.
- Gift-Giving: Being surprised by even a small gift is a thoughtful way to reconnect with your spouse.
As you talk through these with your partner, think of ways you can practice them in your marriage. As you make efforts to express your love in new ways, don't forget to show gratitude for one another.
Let Go of the Need to Be "Everything"
One of the unrealistic expectations society, media, books, and movies can give us about marriage is that we have to be everything for our spouse, and vice versa. But the truth is, perfection is impossible. And none of us can be everything for anybody.
These unhealthy expectations are a common factor in marriage loneliness. But that can resolve itself with acceptance that you don't have to be perfect for one another, and with reminders that other relationships are still in our lives to help us in ways our partner may not be able to.
It's also important to remember that you are not abnormal, and your marriage is not failing if you feel lonely or disconnected because you and your partner are not fulfilling one another's lofty expectations. While we were all created for loving relationships, people are human, and those relationships will occasionally fall short and let us down.
In those moments, I find hope in remembering that God’s love will never let me down. God’s love is perfect unlike human love. When I truly believe in Him and trust that He cares for me and is watching over me, I find great peace. I can also ask Him to give me the clarity and strength I need to deal with marriage challenges.
Keep Other Relationships Strong
Sometimes, we are so excited to be with our spouse that we can end up in a bit of a "bubble". If you've noticed that you're spending all your free time with your partner, that may be part of the reason you feel lonely. It may not be that you've lost a sense of connection to your spouse, but that you feel less connected to others. You can try things like:
- Having a phone or video call with your friends or family
- Send them cards or letters to let them know you're thinking about them
- Planning a group dinner with your spouse and a couple of your close friends or family members
Whatever you can do to strengthen friendships and family relationships, it will take the pressure off the relationship with your spouse and will help you both feel less lonely and disconnected.
I know marriage challenges can be unexpected, especially if you've had a good marriage up to this point. Marriage loneliness can be tough, but it's nothing that can't be overcome.
TheHopeLine has HopeCoaches trained to talk you through common ups and downs in your marriage. If you're feeling lonely in marriage, talk to a HopeCoach today. We are here to listen, and we have faith that your marriage will continue to grow stronger.
If you're looking for a deeper relationship in your marriage, sometimes a mindset shift is needed. Read about these are 3 mindset shifts here.