How can I deal with the loneliness in my marriage?

Marriage evolves over time and loneliness can be an issue. Although it may seem unusual that a married couple could experience loneliness, this is actually a common phenomenon.


Couples can grow apart and feel isolated from each other while they’re still married.


It is important to recognise that this is happening and if you’ve already taken the first step to dealing with this, you’ve identified that your marriage needs work.


It’s time to talk with your spouse and share your feelings. It’s important that he/she understands you feel alone and unhappy. Avoid placing blame or guilt during the conversation so your spouse doesn’t feel attacked. Instead, you want them to listen and understand your concerns.


Q: I’ve used this method with my spouse before. We just end up arguing and we both get upset. My spouse gets defensive and feels that he/she isn’t responsible for entertaining me. I get angry and feel he/she doesn’t understand me. What can I do to make my spouse listen and understand that I’m really lonely?


A: First, choose an appropriate time for the conversation. If you’re both angry and upset about other things in your life, then it’s not the best time to bring this up. Select a time that gives you the opportunity to have an open discussion in a calm setting. It’s best to have this conversation at home.


Second, start the conversation by expressing your own thoughts and feelings. You don’t want to make your spouse feel uncomfortable and angry. Focus on statements that show how the loneliness is affecting you.


You can explore different suggestions together but it’s crucial that you allow your partner a chance to talk and share their feelings. One way to avoid anger is to allow each person the chance to voice concerns.


Q: I’m not sure I know how to restore my marriage and get rid of this loneliness. I don’t know where to start. 


What are some suggestions I can use to work on our marriage?


We don’t have a huge budget so holidays are out of the question. We’re also not in the position to leave our jobs. We’re both working full-time and are extremely busy. Plus, we have kids and help our parents.


A: A busy lifestyle is a common complaint among couples who struggle with loneliness in their marriage. Work, kids and other obligations can quickly fill your time. However, it’s important to find room in your schedule to focus on your marriage. Make your marriage a priority.


You don’t have to go on a fancy holiday or quit your job. Instead, you can make small changes each day that will bring you closer together. For example, you can make a date night once a month; This will help you reconnect with your partner and make your marriage the sole focus. It will also help you feel closer as you spend more time together.


A small budget doesn’t have to stop you from enjoying your date night. You can find free or inexpensive events and destinations. For example, local museums may have free art shows or exhibits. In addition, you may find inexpensive movie or theatre tickets in your area.


Date night is just one part of the plan to eliminate loneliness in your marriage. Find small gestures throughout the week that make you both feel loved and special.


For example, leave each other sweet notes as you pack lunch. Buy each other small gifts or tackle the to-do list without being prompted. These little gestures can build up over time and make the loneliness vanish.


Q: I’m going to try to set up a date night with my partner. However, I’m worried that it’ll just be a waste of time. One of our issues is that we rarely talk to each other. I feel we’ve grown apart and my spouse doesn’t seem to have the same interests as I. We used to have deep and long conversations about our future and ideas. Now, we can’t even talk for two minutes without getting upset or bored.


I feel detached from him/her. I’m worried that we’ve become different people and don’t share the same goals anymore. This is why I feel so alone all the time. What can I do to make our conversations interesting again? I don’t want date night to turn into a boring nightmare with no conversations. I want us to talk like we used to at the beginning of our marriage.


A: It’s important to understand that you can’t reverse time and go back to the marriage of your past. You’ve both changed and evolved as human beings since you walked down the aisle. You want to acknowledge these changes and embrace them. 


If you don’t seem to share the same interests anymore, it’s normal for couples to have different dreams and goals over time. This doesn’t mean your marriage is over and that you are doomed to loneliness. You can make adjustments and reconnect with each other.


How can you align your dreams and goals with your partner’s current interests? You may want to try joining him/her and share their favourite hobbies.


If you’re worried you won’t have a pleasant conversation on date night, to circumvent this, plan ahead and think of topics you can discuss. What current news, events or local information can you share? Can you talk about your family, friends or work?


Your conversation doesn’t have to be life changing on a date night. It simply has to give you the chance to explore topics and reconnect with each other.


Q: I’ll try to plan ahead and think of conversation topics. However, I’m bothered by something else. Part of my loneliness comes from feeling like I don’t have enough support at home. My partner lets me handle everything and doesn’t seem interested in helping. The kids, our parents, the finances and other issues are all on my shoulders.


My partner doesn’t seem to care what I decide or what happens to them. He/she is constantly telling the kids to talk to me or wait for me to get home and doesn’t want to take the responsibility of making decisions. This makes me feel alone and burdened at the same time. I feel like I’m the only one making any choices in the marriage. My partner doesn’t want to be bothered with any difficult topics.


What can I do to change this and make my spouse realise I need their help while running the household? I’m tired of doing everything alone.


A: Although this disparity creates an unfair burden, this issue occurs frequently among couples. It’s a delicate matter because you want to share responsibilities without making your partner feel like there’s no other choice.


Your partner may have grown up in a household where the mother or father made all the decisions, so they may think this is normal. A person’s past experiences influence their marriage in many ways.


Involve your partner the next time you have to make a decision about the kids or bills. Invite him/her to share their opinion and ask questions. He/she may not be used to these changes but they’ll learn to contribute over time. You don’t have to put pressure on them the first couple of times. Instead, let them make suggestions and listen to their ideas.


Your partner may not be aware that you want his/her input around the house. This is why communication is key. You have to take the initiative and ask for their help.


You can also teach your children to reach out to your partner the next time they have an issue. Instead of waiting for you to come home, they can go to him/her for help and encourage your partner to get involved.


You may also want to create a family schedule and hang it up in a prominent part of the house. You can assign chores and let your partner know you need their help too.


Q: I sometimes wonder if I’m the only one who feels lonely in our marriage. My partner doesn’t share his/her feelings often and tends to stay quiet most of the time. Is it possible he/she is also lonely? If that’s the case then why hasn’t he/she said anything to me?


A: Vulnerability is a key part of marriage and it’s important to share your concerns. It’s possible that your spouse is also very lonely in your marriage, but too scared to bring it up. This type of confession isn’t easy and he/she may be afraid you’ll laugh at them.


Try to approach the subject delicately. Instead of confronting him/her and asking if he/she is also experiencing loneliness in the marriage, you want them to open up about their feelings without fear. Start by sharing your own thoughts and gently ask if they feel the same way.


By being vulnerable and honest with your partner you can build a stronger bond. Marriage also depends on a relationship that is able to withstand change. You can eliminate the loneliness by working together. It may take some time and effort but the results will be worth it.


Q: I understand that we both have to work on our marriage, but I often blame myself. I feel like the loneliness is entirely my fault. I should be happy to be married to my spouse because he/she is a kind man/woman. He/she has faults but is generous and thoughtful; doesn’t hit me or the kids and is patient with everyone. We don’t share our feelings often but I can tell he/she loves the children.


Why do I feel so lonely in this marriage? I feel like I must be doing something wrong because none of my friends ever talk about being isolated or alone. They seem to be happily married. The guilt makes me feel like a failure at marriage. I feel like I’m not a good enough husband/wife or father/mother. How can I get over these feelings of blame and guilt? They make the loneliness even worse.


A: It’s not your fault that you feel lonely and you shouldn’t blame yourself. Although your friends may seem to have happy marriages, they may be hiding the truth from you. It’s embarrassing and difficult to share that you’re lonely in a marriage. Your friends may be struggling with the same issues and simply staying quiet about them.


You can’t tell the real issues in a marriage from a distance so comparing yourself to your friends is a waste of time and energy. It’s impossible to know the issues and challenges they face.


It’s essential that you stop blaming yourself. These feelings are actually a signal that you’re ready for a change. Shift your focus to solutions instead.


Q: I’m scared that my marriage is doomed and I’ll end up divorced. I think the loneliness is a sign that our relationship is failing. I love my partner and don’t want our marriage to end. I have hope that we can work things out and my loneliness will be temporary. I’m not sure how we’ll avoid divorce. It seems we have issues communicating and it’s getting worse each year. I feel so alone all the time and afraid my marriage is falling apart.


A: Each marriage has its own unique challenges and issues. Loneliness isn’t an automatic prerequisite for divorce. It simply indicates you’ve grown apart and need to work on your relationship. Fortunately, it’s quite possible for your relationship to survive the turmoil. Many marriages on the brink of falling apart have been saved by thoughtful partners who made a commitment to change.


Instead of comparing your marriage to your friends, focus on your partner. Work on ways to reconnect. You can use your creativity to save your marriage.


Q: I want to discuss my marriage with my family because they always have helpful advice but I’m worried. I haven’t shared my feelings of loneliness with any family members because I’m too embarrassed. I don’t want them to think I’m weird or a failure for feeling alone while I’m still married.


My family is starting to suspect something is wrong and they keep pushing me to talk. However, I’m too scared to discuss these things with them. I know they’ll discuss my fears among them and I’m not sure I’m ready for this.


A: Your family has probably noticed you’re unhappy and wants to help. Family tends to be the first to notice changes. You won’t be able to hide your feelings forever, so you may want to plan how you’ll deal with the subject.


Instead of trying to hide your unhappiness, be upfront and explain your feelings of loneliness. Give examples so they understand the situation. Your family may have useful advice that can help. They can also provide a unique perspective on the situation since they know both of you.


Avoid being afraid of your family finding out the truth, they may be able to help. For instance, maybe they’ll volunteer to babysit the kids while you’re on a date night. They can also help around the house, so you can spend more time with your partner. They may be able to find unique answers to help eliminate your loneliness.


If you’re not comfortable discussing the issues with your family, then you may benefit from therapy. It’s important to have an outlet for your concerns so you’re not bottling up your feelings. Individual or couples therapy may help you and your partner.


You don’t have to face loneliness in the marriage by yourself. You can use the resources and individuals around you who want to help. Both you and your partner can learn from others and strengthen your relationship.


Elena Eleftheriadou is an Executive Coach and Integrative Therapist working with Healthcare Professionals with a purpose and passion to help them communicate more effectively, diminish stress and prevent burnout to improve their work-life balance.