A lot of people wonder how you could be lonely in marriage — how you could be lonely when you’re a part of a long-lasting committed relationship like marriage.
But there’s a tremendous difference between being alone and being lonely. Being lonely has nothing to do with whether or not you are physically close to someone. Loneliness comes from when your relationships are not nourishing you. So, it is no surprise that many people find themselves feeling lonely in their marriages.
So, if you feel lonely in your marriage, or you think your partner may be feeling lonely, keep reading to find out you can reconnect and close that distance!
What Does Loneliness Look Like in a Marriage?
The signs of loneliness in marriage are just the same as they would be in any other relationship (with a few exceptions).
Feeling Lonely Even When Together
Feeling lonely even when you are with your spouse is the biggest and most obvious sign of loneliness in your marriage. When you feel a lack of connection with your spouse and are not getting a sense of fulfillment from your relationship it is no surprise that you’re feeling lonely.
Not Talking to Each Other
Poor or lack of communication is a very common sign of a marriage that is leaving at least one spouse feeling lonely.
Proper communication is a key element of any relationship, romantic or not. And if you and your spouse are avoiding talking to each other or not listening to each other, loneliness is bound to creep in.
Unsatisfactory Sex Life
Alright, so this one might be more specific to romantic relationships, but it is incredibly important that both you and your partner are feeling fulfilled in your relationship — and that includes sexual fulfillment as well.
What constitutes a satisfactory sex life is, of course, very dependent on the relationship. What is important is that both you and your partner are feeling content with the level of intimacy.
Avoiding Time Together
Actively finding reasons to avoid time with your life partner is an incredibly clear sign of feeling lonely in a relationship. When people feel lonely around someone, it is no surprise that they would want to avoid being around them — after all, no one wants to feel lonely.
Increased Daily Stressors
Stressors are a natural part of life, and as we age and gain new responsibilities they can really pile on. However, if you and/or your spouse are both experiencing a lot of stressors and you’re finding all of your interactions are turning into bickering sessions, there isn’t going to be much good communication going on.
Which, as we discussed earlier, is a breeding ground for one or both partners feeling lonely in the relationship.
Uneven Life Balance
Whether this is an uneven work-life balance or even an uneven balance of attention between your spouse and other family members (kids, parents, siblings, etc), an unbalanced life can leave one or both spouses in a relationship feeling lonely.
This unbalance can come up especially easily in situations where you and your spouse are going through a big shift of attention — such as having kids or taking care of elderly parents.
So, now that we have looked into what loneliness in a marriage can look like, how does this loneliness affect us and our relationship?
How Does It Affect Us?
If your marriage is leaving you feeling unfulfilled in your need for love and companionship, it is no wonder that you are feeling lonely — even though you have a spouse. And unfortunately, these feelings of loneliness can often lead to feeling misunderstood or even unwanted by your spouse.
When you’re feeling lonely even with your life partner, it can greatly increase the risk of many other negative effects. Such as:
- An increased risk of depression.
- Worsened overall well-being.
- An increased risk of alcohol and substance abuse.
- A greater risk of heart issues.
How To Reconnect with Your Spouse
Let’s face it, feeling lonely sucks. No one wants to feel unwanted or unheard, least of all by someone who you’ve committed to as your life partner.
So, how can you break that feeling of loneliness and reconnect with your spouse? Well, let’s find out.
Talk to Each Other
Communication is key, remember? It’s very possible that your spouse is unaware that you are feeling lonely and unless you tell them, nothing is going to change.
Maybe something has changed in your lives and you’re feeling like your partner has been distant or not providing you with the affection that you are needing from the relationship.
Whatever the reason, sitting down and talking it out is gonna be the best solution. Your spouse is not a mind-reader, and neither are you. It is extremely important to talk openly and honestly with your spouse about the things that are bothering you — like feeling lonely.
Explore Love Languages
The concept of “love languages” is relatively straightforward. Essentially, according to Gary Chapman, there are 5 different ways of expressing and receiving love:
- Word of affirmation
- Receiving gifts
- Quality time
- Acts of Service
- Physical touch
Now, whether or not you believe in this system, the important idea is to understand what you can do to make your partner feel valued and loved (or what your partner can do to make you feel the same). Talk with your partner about this concept and see if they and/or you could be doing something more to make each other feel how you should in a committed relationship.
Spend Time Together
While feeling “lonely” isn’t the same as being “alone,” spending time with your spouse can greatly help to reduce feelings of loneliness — if it is quality time spent together.
For example, if I am feeling lonely and my partner is spending time with me but he is just scrolling through his phone, that time isn’t going to exactly be the quality time that I want to spend with him and it could end up making me feel even lonelier than before.
So, make sure that the time you are spending with your spouse is intentional, quality time where you are focusing your attention on them and giving them the love and affection they feel they are missing from the relationship.
Be More Independent
That’s right, being more independent can actually help to improve the connection between you and your partner. This is because if you and your partner are codependent on each other, neither of you will be able to feel fulfilled if you are not able to spend all of your time together — which is extremely difficult to do.
Finding your own hobbies, friends, and interests that are separate from your life partner will help both of you to feel more fulfilled individually which can help you to feel more fulfilled with each other as well. This does not mean that you and your partner need to be 100% independent from each other, you just want to avoid codependency.
Avoid the Blame-Game
Alright, this is just a good practice whether you’re lonely in your marriage or not. Continually blaming each other for issues (small or big) will only cause more problems down the line.
When people feel attacked, they tend to put up walls and defend themselves. So, if you’re trying to connect again with your partner, blaming them would just be counterproductive.
Talk to a Therapist
Finally, if you and your partner are feeling lonely in your marriage, consider seeking professional help. Whether you have tried all of the tips above and you’re still feeling lonely or you simply want a little guidance in reconnecting with your partner, both individual and couples therapy can be great options.
A therapist can help you and your partner to better connect with each other and determine the underlying reasons why you can be married but still lonely. So, if you think that talking to a therapist could help you alleviate the loneliness you’re feeling in your marriage, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We at Love Heal Grow would love to hear from you — whether you’re interested in starting therapy or you’ve just got a couple of questions you want to ask!