“I’m married, yet I am so lonely. How did this happen?”
“An intimate relationship does not banish loneliness. Only when we are comfortable with who we are can we truly function independently in a healthy way, and therefore can we truly function within a relationship. Two halves do not make a whole when it comes to a healthy relationship: it takes two wholes.” – Patricia Fry
No one enters into a marriage expecting a lifetime of heartache and struggles. However, when we marry, we commit to a lifelong journey with another human being that may take us through “good times and bad times.” We can’t wait to sign ourselves up for all the good times…the world travels, the new home, the dinner parties and snuggling. But often, we don’t even stop to consider what the “bad times” might entail. We never would expect to feel lonely…”I’m married after all!”
Marriage is a beautiful gift, but it can’t solve our problems. My hope is that you won’t jump into a relationship in order to fill a void, expecting your significant other to fulfill that emptiness…that loneliness. Unmet expectations are one of the biggest challenges in relationships. To expect them to fulfill your voids is a dangerous presumption.
My husband and I are about to celebrate our one-year anniversary, so I am no expert…But there are a few things I’ve learned along the way that I’d like to share. The first tidbit is above – you need to find joy in your independent lifestyle before you can expect to find joy in a relationship. And for those already in wedlock, the top 10 things you can do to avoid loneliness are below:
- Communicate Daily: It’s so easy to get caught up in all that life has to offer, rushing through the days, and going through your routine. Be intentional about carving out time to listen to your spouse, and tell them about your day, both what made it great and what stresses you are carrying. Communication leads to connection, which banishes the feelings of loneliness.
- Divulge at Dinner-time: Meal-time is the perfect chance to chat and hang out with your spouse. Growing up, this was the opportunity for me to connect with my whole family, and the TV was always off. We had each other’s undivided attention, and I’d love for this to be a habit for married couples to form. It doesn’t have to be dinner – maybe for you it’s sharing laughter and conversation over a pile of pancakes and bacon!
- Find something that is your own: Having ‘your thing’ going on allows the chance to continue to preserve your own identity. This might mean getting together with the guys, taking cooking classes, volunteering at your church, playing weekly volleyball with friends…You’ll find that you have more to share with your spouse in conversation over dinner, and that he/she appreciates that. You won’t find yourself feeling lonely if you have these ‘extracurricular activities’ to which you can turn.
- Have Hobbies that you share: For my husband and I, this is the sport of triathlon. We can share time together doing what we love, and it’s absolutely invaluable. We don’t have to say a word, yet we are connecting on an intimate level just by engaging in a healthy activity which we both enjoy. And for other couples, this might be cheering on the Rangers, cooking together, leading a small group at church, signing up for a photography class…get creative!
- Maintain your career/job if possible: Surrounding yourself with people helps dismiss feelings of loneliness, and this can easily stem from your work environment. And for me, working at Innovation 360 allows me the chance to come home with plenty of fun stories to share with my husband. Maybe you are a stay at home mom…make time to interact with other adults and recognize the need for companionship alongside your marriage. At the end of the day, share these adventures with your spouse. The bond will continue to solidify.
Click here for the next 5 of the “Top 10 things You can do to Escape Loneliness in a Marriage.”
At Innovation 360, we offer individual, family and marital counseling. If you are experiencing loneliness in your marriage, we want to help. Please reach out to us by clicking here.
Written by Lauren Barnett, Dir. of Marketing