When you get married, you think you'll never be lonely again but there are times in a marriage when you feel so lonely that it hurts. Here's why and what you can do about it:
Reasons for drifting apart
Physical distance. Working and living in different and distant locations requires concentrated effort to maintain an emotional connection. Necessary physical intimacy lags, too. Let's not forget that we married so we'd have a life partner "to have and to hold."
Health problems. Chronic or serious health conditions can wear down a once-supportive spouse. Not knowing how to help, being too tired to help, feeling guilty or even angry can cause either or both spouses to withdraw from each other.
Unresolved resentments. We may think that we've put some old grudges behind us but they can still linger on a subconscious level so we hold back intimacy or lash out and we deepen the emotional chasm.
Growing apart.Life changes us for better and for worse, and not always at the same pace or in the same way. That can be a serious challenge to a couple if it wants to go in two different directions in life.
Addictions and adultery. Addicts become wrapped up in their own world of woe while adulterers give to others what should only be shared with their spouses. Feeling left out or left behind feels too similar to rejection.
Overworking. Being consumed by a project or career goal might seem noble enough since every workaholic believes he/she is doing it for the family but the toll it takes on a marriage is rarely worth it.
How to stay connected
1. If you must live or work apart, use technology for regular and frequent face-to-face meetings. Skype, email, chats, text messages, cell calls. Arrange for physical meet ups when possible, no matter how brief. Trying to save money isn't as important as saving your marriage.
2. If either of you suffer from a chronic or serious condition, seek outside help for support. Be sure you both have individual time with family and friends and try not to make all of your marriage connection time about the caretaking of the illness. Work in some pleasant activities.
3. Open lines of communication. It behooves you to seek counseling to learn how to communicate effectively. Go alone and your counselor can share some strategies to open dialogue about what's bothering you in the marriage.
4. Keep interested in each other and be open-minded. You don't have to have the same interests to feel good about supporting his personal and professional goals and you don't have to sacrifice your own either
5. Attend support groups for the company you need during his binges. Network with other lonely spouses who understand what you're going through. Get help for his addictions so he's working towards breaking free so you know that it will be worth hanging in there.
6. Don't seek outside solace from a potentially romantic connection. Your spouse might not be able to fulfill your needs at this time but that doesn't give you permission to seek it elsewhere…unless you get divorced first. If you learn he is having an affair, having your own won't save your marriage and it won't make you feel better about yourself either. Instead, confide in clergy, a counselor--or an attorney!
7. Understanding an overworking mate can help you protect your marriage without being an obstacle in his career path. Read "Understanding the Workaholic Husband" at Bellaonline.com/site/Marriage
8. Work on self-development. Needy spouses who rely on their mates for all of their entertainment or socializing can be smothering. When you're focusing on something fulfilling and purposeful, there's no time for loneliness even if you are alone.
Sometimes, just letting your spouse know that you're feeling lonely is enough to get him to stop what he's doing and give you needed attention. If I'm craving some attention from my husband who often is extremely busy with his business and interests, I'm sure that I'm not intruding during a critical time or becoming too needy. I work on my own self-development and interests during our time apart so I'm not merely waiting in the wings. Last, I do my best to be sure our times together are so enjoyable that he always wants more.