By Amanda Idleman, Crosswalk.com
Marriage is supposed to be the fail-safe against a lonely life… right?
Unfortunately for many marriages, this just isn’t the case. You may live under the same roof but function entirely independently of one another. Maybe you only interacting as “business partners” only sharing with each other the details that are pertinent to keeping your household running.
If the space between you has grown even farther than that it’s possible one of you has completely “checked out” while the other one is totally in-charge of the home. Being under the same roof is only a formality, interaction is not required.
Loneliness is sneaky and can creep in even when we aren’t dissatisfied with our spouse. They may be a great provider, parent, or helper but you may still feel disconnected. Nonetheless, the two of you are only checking off all the other boxes for each other and still missing out on truly being emotionally available for one another.
How does this happen? More importantly, what can you do about it? Read on to see 5 practical ways to kick loneliness out of your marriage.
Why Do People Get Lonely, Even When They’re Married?
True intimacy happens when we dial into each other and share our hearts with each other. It takes more than cohabitation and efficient management of your responsibilities. We don't achieve this without real effort on both spouses' parts.
Why do so many marriages fall into these emotionally disconnected patterns? We know God’s design for the institution is for two to become one flesh (Genesis 2:2). Oneness should feel like finishing each other's sentences, like bearing each other’s burdens, and like feeling known yet loved by one another.
In the middle of it all, it can become easier to just not live that way. Living as one flesh means connecting daily and deeply. It looks like vulnerability, prioritizing one another, and it takes effort. For most of us, we have a million things right in front of our faces, screaming for our attention and most of those things aren’t your spouse. It’s your job, cleaning, your kids, your family, it’s fitness, deadlines, dinner, and the list goes on.
Somehow before we know it tending to the most pressing need has pushed nurturing and investing in our marriages to the back burner. Yet, that is not what God had in mind for us. How do we reconnect and no longer experience loneliness anymore?
1. Go to God in Prayer
If intimacy is lacking in your relationship, it’s important that you talk to your spouse about prioritizing one another once again but that can be a tricky conversation to have. Before jumping into fixing this thing with your mate first go to God in prayer. Lay your marriage before His feet and cover whatever is left of your connection with prayer.
His Spirit will go ahead and prepare the way for healing for your relationship! Jeremiah 30:17 tells us that God heals our wounds. I believe that means both our physical and emotional wounds. Living in a lonely marriage creates a wound. We need God’s power to help us forgive and move forward on a new path.
The great comfort we have when we seek God first is that He is always there for us even if our spouse remains emotionally distant. We are never alone when hope is first placed in God (Joshua 1:9).
2. Start the Conversation that Expresses Your Desire to Be More Connected
Change starts when we start to confront the problem we are facing in our life. After seeking God for your marriage, it’s time to talk to your spouse about how you are feeling. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the day-to-day hustle we may not even know that our spouse is feeling lonely.
Gently, express your desire to make time for one another. Talk through what about this season feels isolating and how you would hope to better support one another emotionally. Strategize on ways to be together. Maybe it’s a standing date night, a weekend away, taking a day off work to be together, a commitment to attending Christian marriage counseling together, or staying up later at night so you have more time to talk at the end of the day.
Be patient with this process, in my own experience old habits are hard to break. Be open to hearing each other’s concerns and be willing to listen to one another's point-of-view. Committing to a new normal together takes time, practice, grace for the times you still mess up, and oftentimes the help of a trusted counselor or pastor.
3. Evaluate Your Sex-Life
One sign of a disconnected marriage is a sexless one. Our sex life can wax and wane over time but for us to remain feeling close we have to commit to regularly having sex. When you are feeling lonely and probably hurt because your spouse has not taken the time to be emotionally available it can be very hard to show up in bed!
1 Corinthians 7:5 instructs us not to withhold sex from one another in marriage unless you have agreed to abstain for a set time frame for the purpose of prayer and fasting. Why does Paul give this seemingly very personal advice? Because he knew that sex is a vital part of keeping our marriages alive.
If you have fallen out of the habit of having intercourse, then awkwardly make a point to start doing it again! It may feel just as strange as the first time, but it is like riding a bike. With time and practice you will get the hang of it again.
More sex leads to more connection and conversation. Most women need conversation to have good sex and most men need sex to show up enthusiastically to have conversation. Just get the ball rolling again and you both will reap the benefits!
4. Commit to Being Vulnerable
I’ve found for my own life that I can create my own loneliness because I am unwilling to be fully honest with my husband. He wants to know what is really going on; he wants to support me, but I just won’t open up. Either shame, guilt, depressed thoughts, distraction, unforgiveness, or fear hold me back from letting him in.
Sometimes you have to be the one to take the first vulnerable step in order to bridge that gap. Go to God and lay down those lies and let your spouse in. I am convinced our marriages fail because of what we don’t know about each other more than what we do know.
Your spouse wants to know you, they want to love you, and there is a good chance they just need to be invited in. If you want to go deeper together then you have to be willing to be real when you face those hard and isolating moments.
A great reminder to be open with one another is starting the habit of sharing something you are thankful for at the start and end of a day. This helps you start the day on a positive note and end it reflecting together on the highs and lows of what you experienced.
If sharing your emotions is entirely foreign to you print out a list of feeling words and paste it to your refrigerator. Commit to sharing at least one feeling from the list a day! It probably will feel weird at first, but change is never easy. One day those "feeling words" will just become a part of your new vocabulary and the list won't be necessary!
5. Grow Your Community
Another truth I’ve learned as I’ve grown in my marriage is that I need more than my spouse. There are some seasons that we need the support of more than our husbands or wives to make it through. As a young mom my husband could not fully relate to the burdens and changes I was going through. I needed a tribe of other women that were in the same stage of life to encourage me through that season.
We shouldn’t let our network of friends outshine our marriages but it’s also unrealistic that our marriage alone will be enough to avoid lonely days. A bonus of a great faith-filled community to lean on is they can offer wisdom, encouragement, empathy, and support when your marriage is in a rough place.
If your spouse feels unavailable it’s helpful to have a trusted Christ-follower to lean on to encourage you to stick with it on the days you may feel most discouraged.
One way to finding that community is by first getting connected to a local church. Most churches offer small groups or other settings that make meeting new people possible. It may be helpful to reach out to trusted individuals at work. If you know they are a believer invite them to meet up before work to read and pray together.
There is nothing like God's word to bond together a community. If you are a stay at home parent search or start a community group that supports your phase of life.
As a young Mom, the second week after my second son was born and I quit my full-time job, I attended a Mom's group. I was basically desperate for a community. I emailed the whole group to see who would spend time with me. The ones that showed up became my best friends and rocks during that season. My marriage struggled during those early parenting years, but I'm convinced we survived because we weren't in it alone. We had the support of our community to keep us accountable to the vows we proclaimed to each other years earlier.
2 Peter 3:9 explains that God is not slow in answering our prayers but patient with us. Overcoming loneliness in marriage takes prayer, persistence, and patience. God is faithful to repair and hold together our marriages. Be encouraged that He is with you every step of the way. You are not alone.
Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She writes about all things motherhood for Richmond Macaroni Kid, creates devotions for the Daily Bible Devotions App, she has work published with Her View from Home, is contributing to a couples devotional for Crosswalk, and is a regular contributor for Crosswalk.com. You can find out more about Amanda at rvahouseofjoy.com or follow her on Instagram at rvahouseofjoy.
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