I thought marriage meant I never had to feel alone. That I had a built-in other half, a BFF always down to hang out and work through life together.
What I found is that I don’t have to be alone to be lonely. The same way I can sit in a room full of strangers and be without the company of friends, but worse.
I know what it’s like to feel lonely in my marriage, wanting so badly to connect with my husband but somehow unable to do so. Like my love is muffled. Losing air. Like a bad dream where I’m working as hard as I can but still only running in slow motion.
My longest visits to this deserted island occur when I refuse to acknowledge the struggle. When I want to pretend our emotional connection is just fine, or that rescue will come without communicating the need, sending up a flare, or building a fire to alert those who can help.
But I can’t fight the loneliness by myself. If I could, I wouldn’t end up here to begin with. My solo attempts only make the gloom even thicker. Proof of my isolation and room for all sorts of creepy, crawly lies.
So, friends, from my own broken experiences, here’s how I stop feeling lonely in my marriage.
1. I address my feelings.
Yep, that’s right! That means I have to feel them. I don’t sit and stew in them like dirty bath water (gross!) but I have to acknowledge what I’m feeling and why. This one step helps me so much because it forces me to pull back from my circumstances and evaluate what my feelings mean. Emotions are not trustworthy for decision-making, but they are indicators of what’s going on in my mind and heart. Am I judging or feeling judged? Trying to avoid pain? Do I feel disconnected because I’m refusing to acknowledge my feelings about something? I need to think about all of these questions before moving on.
2. I consider my spouse.
Often times, loneliness can follow a major life event and the adjustment or toll it may take. Things like recovering from illness or having a baby or a hundred other things that can happen along life’s journey. As I address my own feelings, I have the opportunity to consider how my husband is feeling too, and then act out of that consideration. Chances are, he feels lonely as well, but doesn’t know how to address it and doesn’t want to risk making things worse.
3. I put myself out there.
Communicate. I choose to share what’s going on, not from a place of frustration or pain, although sometimes (unfortunately!) that will happen. But I seek to communicate from a place of humility. I ask for help! Here’s a key for me: I communicate with intention. I am careful to consider the time when I will share, how I share, and what I’m trying to achieve. I want to feel connected with my husband again, so I keep that goal in mind. That protects me from saying things or lashing out just to make a point or make him feel bad.
4. I ditch my to-do lists.
This one is a killer. When I start feeling lonely in my marriage it’s usually because I’ve been focusing too much on what we can do together instead of on who we are together. Checklists don’t build a relationship. Sure, the dry cleaning may get done, the house will be clean, and the cars maintained. But if most of our conversations centre around tasks, then I can’t be surprised when our friendship or romance suffers. This is where I set rules for myself. No talking about projects on days of rest. No task list conversations on date nights. Five minutes before we leave on the date is still fair game! But once these heels hit the pavement, I’m connecting with my honey, not my honey-do list.
5. I pray.
God knows what I need, and so in my times of prayer, I give thanks for all of the ways I don’t feel lonely. It helps me to focus on the things I’m thankful for, like the way my hubby woke me up to make sure I didn’t oversleep this morning, or the way he plays with our son. God can restore anything, even lonely seasons in my marriage.
Note: Please don’t feel like you must figure things out by yourself. Talk with your spouse and seek healthy external feedback and guidance if beneficial. Marriage counseling is a powerful tool to help heal your marriage. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!