It may sound paradoxical to some when a married person admits to feeling lonely in marriage. However, numerous surveys reveal that loneliness within marriages is common. It can be hurtful and confusing to be someone who experiences loneliness in their marriage. This is because, in an ideal marriage, we can reach out to our partner to provide friendship and companionship and to be our shoulder to cry on.

The fact that loneliness can happen in a marriage proves two things: first, loneliness is not necessarily limited to or defined by the physical state of being alone; and second, marriage is not a foolproof way to prevent loneliness.

What does loneliness feel like in a marriage?

There is no all-inclusive list of what loneliness can feel like in marriage. Generally, when you are feeling lonely in your marriage, you find yourself feeling emotionally disconnected from your partner. It may seem your spouse is not making time for you, and it can feel as though he or she has emotionally checked out of the relationship.

This may leave you feeling hurt, sad, and unwanted.  Where you used to have someone to confide in or turn to with your happy or devastating news, you now feel abandoned and alone. You can’t even ask your spouse for help with anything because you don’t have confidence they will be available.

The warmth and friendship you used to experience may start to feel as though it has been replaced by a strange coldness. When you are both at home, you probably spend time in different rooms, each engrossed in their own business, barely acknowledging the presence of the other.

Those long-distance road trips that you used to enjoy together singing music, laughing, and sharing deeply, have become almost unbearable. You feel every mile as you stare aimlessly out of the windows while your partner stiffly keeps their eyes focused on the road. Your spouse who vowed before God and men to love you through thick and thin now feels like a stranger or a mere housemate.

Loneliness in marriage can be experienced at different stages of the marriage, whether newlyweds or veterans many decades in. The length of marriage does not determine who can experience loneliness. Couples are different and have different expectations of their relationships. Consequently, what triggers the feeling of loneliness within one couple’s marriage may not necessarily trigger that feeling in another’s marriage.

To find solutions to loneliness, one must be able to identify the causes of loneliness in the first place. If you are looking for reasons why you are feeling lonely in your marriage, the reasons below might help you get there. Likewise, the solutions suggested may be applied to your marriage for fresh hope.

Common triggers for loneliness within marriages

Although triggers to loneliness within marriage are unique to each couple, here are three of the most common triggers:

Poor communication

Most successful marriages are hinged on healthy communication as it ensures that both parties can respectfully and freely express their feelings and opinions without harboring fear of how their spouse might react. Both parties should therefore be willing to listen to the other.

Even where there is a difference in opinions that may lead to heated arguments or conflict, if you have healthy communication, you will almost always find amicable solutions. However, if one spouse feels afraid to freely share their feelings or opinions, or if anyone is unwilling to listen or consider the other’s perspective, chances are they will start bottling things up. In turn, this can lead to resentment and loneliness.

Failure to meet each other’s emotional needs

Each person in a marriage relationship has specific needs and expectations. If these are met by their spouse, they feel special, loved, happy, and valued. These needs differ from individual to individual, which is why some speak about different love languages.

Physical intimacy, intimate conversations, emotional connection, support, and receiving attention from your spouse are all essential. However, when you do not get as much support as you may need or expect, you may start to feel hurt, alone, and even resentful of your spouse.

Busy schedules and lifestyles

The world we are living in is moving fast. Men and women are working more and more hours to earn a living and in pursuit of self-actualization. For some, attaining the work and family balance that is needed for families to keep thriving can prove to be elusive. Drifting apart is inevitable if you do not spend enough quality time together as a couple.

When your spouse constantly works long hours without making time to be with you, physically and emotionally, you may start to feel lonely. Physical intimacy is a significant component of a marriage and when it is lacking, it may also lead to loneliness.

The remedy for feeling lonely in marriage

Loneliness in a marriage is not a problem that can be neglected or left unresolved. Unaddressed, it may keep you drifting further away from each other and, in some cases, even towards divorce. If you think the loneliness you are experiencing in your marriage is caused by one or all three of the above triggers, here are some suggestions that may help you:

Improve your communication

If you never had healthy communication strategies in your marriage at the beginning, trying to bring about a change may take time, effort, and drastic changes. Success in improving your communication depends on how far apart you have drifted and both spouses’ willingness to work towards better communication strategies.

If the rift is not too wide, you may try and work this out by discussing what better communication would look like in your relationship, what it means, and how you can jointly achieve that.

Ask yourselves the hard questions including why you think your communication strategies need work. You could ask your spouse if they need you to listen more, open up more, speak less, or speak more respectfully. If, however, you have been stuck in the loneliness zone for a long time. you might need the help and guidance of trained Christian counselors.

This type of conversation happens best when there is physical safety between the spouses.

Address the issue of unmet emotional needs

If your loneliness stems from unmet emotional needs, it is time for you and your spouse to discuss this. Be honest about how you feel without being confrontational or accusatory. You could for example say, “It would make me feel loved and appreciated if you did…”

Before having this discussion, however, you need to know what your emotional needs are and ask yourself if those needs are realistic and not being pushed by trends on social media or something you watched in a romantic movie. Consider the realities of your circumstances before comparing your relationship to movies and social media trends.

Since relationships are a two-way street, your spouse may be feeling as lonely as you feel. Ask your spouse what their emotional needs are, if you have been meeting them, or how you can meet them. It is important to listen without being defensive or making excuses, remembering that the goal of the discussion is to have a happy, thriving, and fulfilling marriage.

It is also important to realize that as much as you and your spouse may love each other, there is no way you can fulfill all the emotional needs each may have. There are other needs that friendships and hobbies may also help fulfill, so consider them as alternatives.

Create time for each other

As much as there are the demands of jobs, business, or schedule, you must always make time for each other. Be in the habit of checking in on each other as this helps maintain the emotional attachment in your relationship.

If you feel lonely because your spouse does not make enough time for you, tell them how you feel and try to find solutions together. Be realistic and take baby steps. It would be unfair to immediately expect a massive shift in quality time if you know your spouse’s job is extremely demanding. Make small, reasonable, and doable adjustments to start. Accept the small change that comes.

Getting help

Repairing loneliness in marriage can be hard work. If you feel that your relationship has drifted beyond the point where the two of you could work things out by yourselves, consider marriage counseling. Reach out to our offices today. We have trained therapists who will help you through this season and guide you to a more fulfilling marriage.

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