Marriage > Reconnecting > 6 Ways to Cope With a Lonely Marriage

6 Ways to Cope With a Lonely Marriage

If you're unhappy in your relationship, try a different approach! Learn how The Hero Instinct can be the key to securing a man's love, attention, and devotion for life.


You’re married, yet you feel alone and lonely. You thought marriage would involve companionship and connection; instead, you’re living with loneliness and isolation. Feeling alone in a marriage isn’t one of the topics covered in the premarital counseling classes I took – but it should have been! I’ve been married for 15 years, and am still learning that being lonely is sometimes part of marriage.

I wrote What to Remember When You Miss Your Husband when my husband was away on a business trip (in fact, he’s working in Mexico right now!). That article addressed the physical sense of loneliness, of feeling bored and lonely at home because my husband was away. It was about missing the companionship of a spouse who was expected to come home in the near future.

This article is different. This is about the emotional loneliness, the psychological feeling of being lonely and unconnected when your husband or wife is sitting right next to you. That kind of loneliness is more painful than the loneliness of missing someone who is physically absent. That emotional loneliness is sadder and harder to bear because you feel disconnected and misunderstood. My tips won’t erase the loneliness you feel in your marriage, but they might help you find ways to feel less alone in the world


A reader’s comment inspired me to share these ideas. “I have always felt alone, unloved by my husband,” said Verna on How to Save an Unhappy Marriage Without Couples Counseling. I don’t know why I married him. He doesn’t love or support me in any way, though he never stops or discourages me from doing anything. Sometimes I feel like we are just cordial roommates. He will go out of his way to assist anyone except me. I never know what he does with his money, he has huge debts that he has made while we were together but I never saw the money or what he did with it. Every time I tell him I feel lonely in our marriage, he either ignores me or says I’m insecure. I am so lonely and lost.”

Do you feel the same way she does – lonely in your marriage, lost, insecure, disappointed? Maybe you got married thinking your life would be more complete and fulfilling. Instead, you find yourself coping with loneliness you didn’t even know was possible when you were single. Feeling alone in your marriage is worse than feeling alone when you’re single.

6 Tips for Coping With Being Married and Lonely

“In some marriages, trying harder does not engender a reciprocal response,” writes Leslie Vernick in The Emotionally Destructive Marriage: How to Find Your Voice and Reclaim Your Hope. “It has the opposite effect. It feeds the fantasy that the sole purpose of your life is to serve your husband, make him happy, and meet his every need. It feeds his belief of entitlement and his selfishness, and it solidifies his self-deception that it is indeed all about him.”

I also quoted Vernick in How to Deal With a Husband Who Complains About Your Clothes. If you’re lonely because your spouse is critical and judgmental, you’ll find that article helpful. Vernick sees to the heart of marriage problems, and clearly describes how to identify damaging behaviors. Her books are easy to read and applicable to all relationships. Remember that feeling alone even though you’re married is emotionally destructive. That’s why a book like Vernick’s is a healthy way to cope with loneliness in relationships.

1. Learn how to apply ASLAN to your marriage

The big lesson I’m learning in my life right now is accepting circumstances and people the way they are. I practice Aslan, which stands for Acceptance, Surrender, Live And Know this is the way it’s supposed to be. Accepting my life and surrendering to what is right now frees my energy. Accepting the loneliness in my marriage motivates and strengthens me to live fully, knowing things won’t always be this way.

Does this idea make sense to you? In other words, fighting your loneliness or wishing you didn’t feel lonely in your marriage is a waste of energy. You can’t change anything by wishing it wasn’t so, or even regretting you got married in the first place! Instead of resisting your loneliness or wishing things were different, accept and surrender to this relationship. Use the energy that has been freed up to live differently and start making changes in your life.

2. Acknowledge what you wish your husband could give you

What role does your husband play in your feelings of being married and alone? Some husbands are completely oblivious to their wives’ needs the because wives haven’t said anything, asked for anything, or set healthy boundaries. Other husbands are emotionally unhealthy or even abusive. Most husbands are in the middle: regular guys who are living their lives. Some care deeply about their wives’ happiness, while others are more focused on work, hobbies, possessions.

Do you want your husband to support you, spend more time with you, talk to you, or accompany you to events? Get clear in your own mind what you want from your marriage. What will help you feel connected and understood? Coping with when you feel alone in your marriage means you need to do some heavy lifting. Think about what you want and if your husband can give it to you. Your husband may not be able to give you everything you need, but you need to be clear on what you want.


If you simply want more time with him, read What to Do When Your Boyfriend Doesn’t Have Time for You.

3. Cope with your loneliness in healthy ways

What role do you play in your loneliness? Feeling connected, healthy, and fulfilled isn’t just about a happy marriage. Your husband can’t make you happy, nor is he responsible for making sure you never feel alone or unloved. You have to find internal joy and peace that will carry you through all situations, no matter how lonely your marriage is.

In 6 Signs Your Marriage is Over, I encourage readers to take care of their own emotional and social needs. If you’re married and alone, create a life outside of your marriage. Take responsibility for your own actions, activities, friendships, health, and future plans. Maybe your husband will be part of your new life, or maybe not. You can’t control him, nor can you force him to be around when you feel lonely. But you can control your own responses, thoughts, and choices. This where the typical “get a life” advice comes in: make friends by doing volunteer work, joining book clubs or hiking groups, joining a church or spiritual organization, or taking continuing education classes. Challenge yourself by pursuing a different career or going back to school.

4. Realize that “married yet alone” often go hand in hand

alone and married
How to Cope With a Lonely Marriage

Hollywood movies and romance books have created expectations that are not real. Worse, they’re destructive! We see movies where beautiful couples have amazing relationships and exciting marriages. We don’t see the lonely parts of being married – unless, of course, the husband is an explorer or an astronaut. Then we know a happy ending is coming.

What do you expect from your marriage – and your husband? It’s normal and even healthy to feel lonely sometimes. Even when you’re married. Even when you’re surrounded by people, family, friends! Loneliness is just part of who we are.

We’re not lonely for more of each other, we’re lonely for more God. That divine spark of power, love, joy and light is what we hunger for…and what we can’t get enough of. We think we’re lonely for romantic love, but we’re really yearning for the presence of God.

5. Learn how to give yourself what you need

Your past – even a years-ago childhood – affects how lonely you feel in your marriage today. So does mine. My mom has schizophrenia; I grew up in foster homes. I didn’t realize how lonely and neglected I was until I was in my late 20s, when I met my dad for the first time. As an adult, I learned that I have to give myself the encouragement, love, support, and compassion I need. I love my husband, but nobody can fill my emotional needs the way I need.

A husband can’t fill all your emotional and spiritual needs. He might not even be able to fill your physical or social needs! It’s not fair to expect him to make you whole or happy. Learn how to cope with loneliness in marriage by finding fulfillment and meaning in something that can never die, betray you, or get lost. Find your inner self, that true you who can rest in the peace, joy and love of God. That is your true self, and she never gets lonely.

6. Learn how to sit alone happily and enjoy your own company

Do you like who you are? Can you be alone with yourself for a few hours, and not feel lonely or bored or even crazy? If you can’t be alone happily, you’ll always struggle with loneliness in your relationships. Your companionship and connection has to come from within because people can’t meet your spiritual or emotional yearnings. It’s impossible.

On 10 Ways to Stop Being a Needy Girlfriend and Feel Confident Again, a reader said that she can’t be alone. She isn’t comfortable being alone because she feels uncertain and lost. She hasn’t found herself, her self-identity, her self-confidence. She hasn’t learned to enjoy her own company. More importantly, she hasn’t learned how to take care of her own needs. She’s setting herself – and her future husband – up for problems because she expects too much from relationships.

Can you go to restaurants, movies, art galleries, parties by yourself? What about travel, or even day trips? Learn how to be happy without feeling lonely. This won’t just help ease the loneliness in your marriage, it will make you a happier, more peaceful person. You’ll be a joy to be around, for both you and others.

What do you think? Your comments are welcome below.

The last word goes to Leslie Vernick: “There are times you must risk unraveling the life you have in order to create the life God wants for you.”

In peace and passion,

Laurie

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22 thoughts on “6 Ways to Cope With a Lonely Marriage”

  1. I feel the same way as so many. I keep reading so many posts and think, “that’s me”.

    But I keep hearing the word “husband”. And then it hurts even more.

    In my relationship, I’m the husband.

  2. After 21+ years, the last 19 are probably the loneliest I ever experienced. Being ignored when trying to strike up conversation or just getting short reply’s. What happened our pre marriage communications we based our openness and love for each gone ? Intimacy is non existent for quite a few years. We do not even share the same bed. My spouse comes home from work, turns on the TV and lap top to study and learn a hobby that has sparked an interest. I take care of the cleaning, our teenage son, shopping , cooking…I guess you get the picture. Now my spouse is heavily into the church as a Eucrite minister and helps teaching the children about religion. No weekend activities together. Plans are made that do not include me. If you have not guessed it by now, I am the husband in name only.

  3. Been married 24 years, my husband and I are room mates in my opinion. He never touches me, and we don’t talk. I feel more alone when he is home, than when I am completely by myself. I stay because there’s no way I could make enough money to live alone and support myself.

  4. in response to Cotie, you’re not alone. I guess it helps to feel not alone. still hard to know what to do about it. I still have the feelings inside of me that want to be loved and touched. And I feel may as well live alone if you’re not loved and touched by your mate. But I have done nothing since writing last time! he will act like he will seek help and yet he does nothing. I’m going back to school, starting soon. I also have my animals and my horses to ride and keep me busy. But it seems odd to stay in some ways, like why? I feel I’m lying to myself somehow. I need money to support myself , my animals cost a lot and I’m not giving them up if I leave. My heart goes out to everyone who is suffering this way. I feel like I had love to offer and he doesn’t want it. not sure I could offer it to someone else, I think now I have a fear it will be wasted. My animals need it and they love me, so that’s what I’m sticking with. People are caught up in their own things and can’t see the forest for the trees.

  5. Well, giving yourself what your husband can’t give you…. that’s what the problem is isn’t it? I mean, we get things from relationships that we cannot give ourselves. My marriage was going nowhere from the beginning when I look back, and I’ve known that for some time. Just what to do about it is a hard choice for me. He has never seemed to care about showing love, touching, hugging, sex. I think it was me keeping it going and when I got sick of keeping it going for 2, I quit and I never got anything from him after that. Pretty sad. I never got married to have someone pay my way in life and he sort of acts like he’s a grand husband because he supports me…. I just wanted a mate, love, touching…. I believe he’s ADD or something, lives in his own little world and no matter what I say, he doesn’t seem to attempt any change or getting any help, so I want to leave. But then not sure I should. We don’t do anything together, there are no photos, no proof of our relationship … it’s very weird. Not a lot to it…. and I don’t feel you can just restart it, even if he was willing to find /get help. I had a sex drive and he basically taught me to not waste my time attempting things.

    1. I am in the same situation, I have little ones that I cannot provide for them on my own. I’m trying really hard to just not care anymore and find what I need or seek to fill up my love tank in other ways. I’m really shy when it comes to getting involved Church, community volunteering or even joining a fitness class all in fear of rejection or not bring good enough. I believe its all due how lonely I’ve been for almost a decade.

      1. Nancy, I think you should do something like that. Step out of your norm. You don’t have to be outgoing to do it. But please know that you are good enough. You are you and that is good enough. I’m really sorry you don’t feel good about yourself ,but I totally get it. I have felt very alone, besides the marriage thing, in other ways too. Far from real friends, new friends ditch me,,, etc,,, small family who doesn’t really say much about anything…
        I hope you can step out, reach out, then you may be shocked at what you find. Maybe find a yoga class? I love yoga, but live too far to drive to any. Or find a church.

      2. I joined a gym and go alone, ear buds in. The fact that I accomplished it and followed through has made me feel 1000 times better about myself.

    2. I am in exactly the same boat. Married 25 years this upcoming September and every day is lonelier than the last one. I knew even before we were married that this was going to be hard, but I truly thought it was God’s will at the time (we were raised in a religious cult…another story for another day). But now I know that we were incompatible from the get-go. The most frustrating thing is that I firmly believe in the power of people to transform and that marriage is a great way to provide support and growth opportunities for each member of the couple, but it’s got to be something that both members agree to work on. Check out Marriagebuilders.com…the information provided has been eye-opening to say the least and have given me the courage to make a stand for what I need and to end the relationship if that is not something my husband is interested in doing.
      I’d love to keep this conversation going as I find it soothing to know that other women are experiencing the same challenge as I am.

      1. poke face, yeah, it’s sad huh? my husband I feel is sort of trying. My horse was very lame and I’ve been suffering through deciding to let him go. His leg got so crooked,,,, he loved my horse too and was supportive. I had to lay my beloved draft horse Nate to rest on 31 May. It’s awful. He was so special. So he’s doing better in some ways, yet personally…. he pays no attention. I think he can’t, I think he’s so screwed up, has no clue as to how to show affection and we have not had sex in 8 yrs. It was me initiating it and I quit. So I got nothing. I’m not going to beg for sex. And now I don’t even want that with him. It would be like doing it with a stranger. He lives in filth. I’m not a fan of that. Don’t want to be close to him now. So for me, that is all over. I have no money to leave. My animals cost a lot…. and I’m not ditching them. So I guess my life will continue to be this way. Maybe I can find a boyfriend in the future! ha! He needs to get therapy, but he won’t.

  6. my only advice to you is that you should tell him what you really feel. Coping in a loveless marriage is lonely, but you can say I love you and try to express your love to him. Try to help him fix his problems, spend your best time with him. Don’t eat alone, why do not you try to share the moment?

  7. Hello,
    Im not usually talking about my life online but i truly feel miserable these days.
    My husband and I just moved to a new city so im far from my friends and family. We are both really independant in our relationship. I have learned to accept that he doesnt want to do anything with me, he doesnt like going on vacation, he doesnt like my friends, he doesnt like going out and he prefers to eat alone.
    We have been married for 3 years and I simply learned to live this way. I suffered from it sometimes but i also enjoy going out with my friends without him and eating my own food in front of my favourite show.

    The problem is that since we moved in this new city i started to have really sad feelings and absolutely no sexual desire. I love my husband and im still very attracted to him. I tried to talk to him about it but he doesnt seem to understand and he became upset saying i was selfish to ask him to talk if he doesnt want to.
    Im throwing myself into work, activities, gym classes and goals but everytime he comes home i start to feel sad (i dont feel sad during the day cause i keep myself very busy).

    I dont know what to do. I dont know if something is wrong with me. I dont usually feel lonely when im by myself, i really enjoy my own company. Im starting to think that i could be happier alone because i never feel as bad when im by myself ! What’s wrong ??

    1. Just found this and it resonated surreally with me, only I’m the husband stuck in the assumed wive’s role. All my family and almost all of my friends are 1500 miles away, I have chronic pain, recovering from back surgery, and foot 100% of the housework including cooking and laundry, taking care of our “kids” (3 dogs, 1 cat), continually get shot down by my wife for sexy time (very unselfish lover), and just feel like I’m living with a roommate, sometimes friend with benefits. I moved across the country with her for her career while putting mine and everything I enjoyed (country living) on indefinite hold for her, I could go on. I’m a very outgoing person and have a lot of fun exploring the city around us but when she’s home it’s like I’m trapped in a prison of loneliness while the key to escape lays next to me content with her needs fully met; as I feel worse and worse about myself and assume at this point it has to be something wrong with me. She’s perfectly happy to come home from work, eat, watch tv, fall asleep, wake up, rinse repeat. It’s killing me, I have a hard enough time getting myself up and active everyday, I don’t have the strength to do it for her too every single day.

      She’s married to her job plain and simple, I’m just trying to learn to cope with the loneliness without having an affair &/or whether or not it’s time to look at leaving since counseling has been talked about but never followed through on .

      I hope you’re doing better now if you get this.

      1. Fortitude , I was wondering, have you thought of counseling for you? in order to figure your way out of it? I did that. It did help me, but have not figured everything out yet. It helps your sense of self worth and your mind I feel. I didn’t want to counsel, I felt nothing would change if I went to marriage counseling. Can you just go and explore things on your own? You might find something good? I usually meet people when I’m out, cuz I speak to them, I will talk to anyone. Seems sometimes people think I’m weird! ha! Take your dog to a dog park and see what happens maybe? you might meet a friend and take the dog daily to see the human friend and the dog friend.

  8. I can understand all these comments. I been married years,(34) I don’t even consider it a married were roommates. There are many days I felt very alone. My husband and I do try to make effort to talk. Soon It fades out them we just sit there just looking at each other. I have did everything possible to save it. Now I’m doing what this blog saying, making peace with it, I always wanted to go back to school.

  9. Thank you for being here – and I am deeply sorry for your leukemia diagnosis. It’s a sad and scary feeling to face cancer alone, especially when you feel so lonely in your marriage.

    I don’t think you’ll ever get rid of your overwhelming desire to be loved, consoled, and comforted. We were created for connection and companionship. God specifically designed us to love and be loved, to hug and be hugged. So, trying to erase your feelings of needing love and comfort won’t go away…they are part of being human.

    If I were you, I’d seek comfort in other ways. Not infidelity or cheating in marriage, but I’d look for ways to stop feeling so alone even though I’m married. For me, it might be spending more time in prayer — because I feel more connected, peaceful, loved, and joyful when I’m spending time with God than any other person!

    Other people find comfort and connection in music, their pet dog or cats, volunteer work, family, friends, team sports, bridge clubs…God really has given us a million ways to connect with each other and Him!

    I encourage you to take time to think about what makes you feel less lonely. You may consider finding ways to connect with your wife…or you may find comfort elsewhere (again, I am not saying infidelity. That will bring a whole new set of disastrous problems that will destroy your life, heart, and soul!). If solving the loneliness in your marriage isn’t possible, then you might start exploring other activities that have filled your heart in the past.

    Since the holidays are approaching, here’s an article I wrote recently….maybe it’ll help you cope with loneliness this season.

    7 Secrets for Surviving a Lonely Christmas
    http://blossomtips.com/lonely-christmas-season-how-to-cope-holiday-blues/

    I’ll keep you in my thoughts and prayers. May peace and joy fill your heart, and may you find healthy ways to console and comfort yourself as your move forward in your life.

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  10. Hi , marriage for 29 years , Wife has no relations with me for several years in fear of getting pregnant ,tbaalone has been tough now I just recently found out I have cancer and I lost my sense of smell I m afraid of what’s coming but have no comfort of living a normal marriage, not even romance . I believe in God and that I am in a valid.marriage , just so Dan lonely I couldn’t even be at my own house for Thanksgiving and sat in the empty Church parking lot instead , all because I miss what we use to have and am sad I will never experience it again and that this loneliness will make me die sooner in my sickness, I am even ashamed that i would let lack of physical intimacy do this to me kind of makes me feel dirty and cheap . I love her but it hurts to be around her , I feel selfish and alone the only way I can justify it is that I earned this but it just makes me want to leave this world, I’m just good for paying bills till the day my lukeimia claims me , I lierally can’t taste can’t smell and now am not allowed to touch and experience how I desire to be consoled , how do I get rid of this overwhelming desire .

  11. Coping with loneliness in marriage isn’t just a wife’s problem – thank you, Lonely, for pointing that out. I’m sorry you’re experiencing this, and that there seems to be no resolution to your marriage problems. You love your wife deeply, yet you can’t connect with her the way you want. It’s a difficult way to life, and I wish I had good advice for you.

    Thank you for being here, and sharing your perspective. May you experience a breakthrough in your relationship – and may God surprise you with a miracle! Or at least something amazing :-) You never know what changes may be wrought over time…

  12. My situation would appear to be opposite to the majority. I’m a husband who loves and cares deeply for my wife. I support her in every way, but about ten years ago she started getting distant. It’s been getting worse over time. We’ve gone to therapists and couples counseling, but neither has given any clear idea as to what the problem is. She did have a difficult abusive childhood with alcoholic parents. She says it’s been dealt with and behind her. I had a great childhood and sometimes I think that’s held against me. So women, men have the same problem too. Likely far more than you would realize.

  13. I have a husband who is more and more coming out as transgender as a woman so our intimacy has never really been there. Does anyone have any tips for the sexual anorexia that comes with this ? I am officially living with a woman now and have lost the man I married.