By Keren Kanyago, Crosswalk.com
Patricia often reminisced on the good old days of her marriage. Days when she and Jack were deeply involved in each other's lives. Days when she was privy to all his work projects, life's ambitions, and dreams. In return, Jack also knew her dreams and career aspirations like the back of his hand. But that was four years ago. The enviable bond they had shared gradually subsided.
They now had two kids to raise, corporate ladders to ascend, and higher studies to focus on. Each of them seemed to be caught up in their own lives, and Patricia often felt very lonely. Loneliness in marriage may seem like an oxymoron. Doesn't getting hitched automatically give loneliness the boot? How can one possibly feel lonely when they have a life partner?
Studies show that many married people admit to feeling lonely. The Scriptures teach that two are better than one because they have a good reward for their labor, and if one of them falls, their companion will lift them (Ecclesiastes 4:9). But what happens when your companion is nowhere in sight when you fall? In this article, we explore the signs of loneliness in marriage and what you can do to wiggle out of it.
5 Signs of Loneliness in Marriage
Most couples start out being very intimate, with their lives tightly intertwined. But then life happens, and a boatload of responsibilities start creeping up on the marriage. Parenting, studies, careers, and side gigs, among other important aspects of life, compete for the couple's time and attention. Often, couples will attend to every other responsibility apart from their relationship.
Because the couple lives under one roof, they will assume they don't need to do much to stay connected. With time, the marriage gets relegated to the back burner and runs on autopilot. Communication, intimacy, one-on-one time, and shared interests are no longer a priority. This causes the couple to drift apart, with either one or both partners succumbing to loneliness.
The lonely spouse may feel that their spouse is oblivious to their desires, needs, interests, and fears. They feel unseen, unheard, and emotionally disconnected. This is a punch in the gut seeing that they tied the knot hoping for companionship. Here are five signs of loneliness in marriage.
1. You Feel Lonely Even When with Your Spouse
You could be together physically with your spouse but still feel sad. This happens when you have drifted so far apart that neither of you knows how to reconnect. You can't seem to recall what brought you together in the first place. You have no shared interests, flirty conversations, or jokes to share. Your friendship is long gone, and your relationship is now business-like. The rift between the two of you seems insurmountable.
2. You Find Yourself Avoiding Your Spouse
Do you often feel uncomfortable while with your spouse, finding it easier to avoid them altogether? Do you feel anxious whenever you find yourself alone with them? Some couples get very on edge while together, so much so that they have to look for something to clutch onto to fill up the silence. They could, for instance, turn to their phones or their children. This desire to dodge your spouse at all costs is another sign that you are lonely in marriage.
3. Lack of Intimacy
Sexual intimacy plays a huge role in any marriage relationship. It is the sacred seal in a marriage covenant where the man and woman cease being two and become one flesh (Mathew 19:6, 1 Corinthians 6:16). Couples that enjoy a healthy sex life are often great life partners. They exude unity, trust, contentment, confidence, and even a healthy self-image. On the contrary, when couples stop prioritizing intimacy, their emotional connection deteriorates. They no longer feel united, and feelings of loneliness and resentment replace their bond.
4. You Feel That Your Needs Are Not Met
Perhaps you relish a warm bear hug after a day away from your spouse. It makes you feel loved and valued. Your spouse, however, claims not to be a "hugs person" and is always reluctant to indulge you. Or perhaps you love savoring art, culture, and history. A walk in your local museum with your spouse, hands clasped together, is the perfect way to unwind. But your spouse frowns at your love for museums and considers it a waste of time.
Let's be honest; we all got married hoping our spouses would meet our physical and emotional needs. Perhaps not all of them but a decent amount of them. When spouses feel that their needs are not being met in the marriage, they recoil in utter disappointment. They inadvertently lapse into a state of loneliness.
5. Your Don't Have Other Friends Besides Your Spouse
Let's face it; your spouse cannot meet all your social and emotional needs. If you have been looking up to them to meet all your relational needs, you have been mounting too much pressure on a fellow human being. You need other thriving relationships to complement your relationship with your spouse.
As a wife, some deep heart-to-heart conversations are best held with your BFF, who will listen to you intently without squirming impatiently in their seat. As a husband, some of your adrenaline-laced banter is better exchanged with a fellow man. Sooner or later, you will realize that your spouse cannot be everything to you where relationships are concerned. If you have no other friends who can bridge that gap, you end up disoriented and lonely.
How to Ditch Loneliness in Marriage
1. Communicate With Your Partner
You must have honest conversations with your partner and bare your feelings. In doing this, do not judge or blame them for your loneliness. Seek whether they feel the same way and explore ways to reconnect. Whatever you do, keep your communication lines open.
2. Prioritize and Nurture Your Marriage
Chances are that the disillusionment and loneliness you feel stem from both of you taking your relationship for granted. Be intentional about nurturing your marriage. Spend more time together (away from the kids), indulge in shared interests, communicate clearly, limit screen time, go to bed at the same time and get intimate more often. Make your marriage a priority, and do not allow your friendship to wane.
3. Meet Your Spouse's Needs
Do your spouse a huge favor by meeting their needs. Often, your needs will be a stark contrast to those of your spouse. Meeting their needs will, therefore, not come naturally to you. You will often have to go against the grain. However, Paul asks believers to look not only into their own interests but also the interests of others (Philippians 2:4). Jesus said that He did not come to be served but to serve (Mark 10:45). As you perpetually meet your spouse's needs, they feel valued, respected, seen and heard. There will be no room for loneliness.
4. Nurture Other Friendships
Do not ditch your friends just because you got married. For you to live a wholesome life, you need other friends. Good friends keep you accountable, support you during rough times, add happiness and even perk up your confidence. Remember that a man who isolates himself seeks his own desire and rages against all wise judgment (Proverbs 18:1).
5. Get Your Phone Out of The Way
How much time do you spend scrolling through your social media feed daily? That could be time used to connect with your spouse! Phones have become a significant distraction these days. It's easy for spouses to connect with "invisible" people online, all the while neglecting their spouses. Put your phone down and connect with your spouse, shielding them from loneliness.
Keren Kanyago is a freelance writer and blogger at Parenting Spring. As a wife and mom, she uses her blog to weigh in on pertinent issues around parenting, marriage, and the Christian Faith. She holds a degree in mass communication with a specialty in print media. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram and/or shoot her an email at [email protected].