What to Do When You Are Lonely in Marriage

lonely in marriage

As humans, we are not meant to be isolated. We all crave deep and lasting connections with other people. But we know it’s possible to feel alone in the middle of a crowd, and it’s possible to sleep in the same bed with someone for years and still feel lonely. Many of us never expect to be lonely in marriage, hoping that our spouse will be the lifelong companion who saves us from loneliness. Over time, however, couples can gradually disconnect from one another and find themselves feeling isolated and withdrawn.

Loneliness is not just about physical proximity, it’s about emotional connection. FamilyLife’s Dr. Dennis Rainey and his wife, Barbara, explain, “You may have sex, but you don’t have love. You may talk, but you don’t communicate. You live together, but you don’t share life.” If you’re feeling lonely in your marriage, here are some ways to reconnect with your spouse:

Make the first move. Feelings of loneliness are seldom felt by only one person in a relationship. If you’re feeling isolated, chances are your spouse is, too. Take the first step to reconnecting with them, even if it’s just a small gesture. Open up to them about how you feel and give them an opportunity to do the same. Healing cannot begin if you hide or mask your pain.

Forgive past hurts. Especially if you have been feeling alone for a long time, hurts have likely been building up in your marriage. Nothing breeds loneliness more than unforgiven hurt and conflict. If you have been wronged, make the decision to forgive your spouse. And if you have wounded them, seek their forgiveness immediately.

Spend time together. This seems like a no-brainer, but sometimes couples get so busy or caught up in their individual lives that they neglect to simply spend time together. The less time a couple spends together, the more likely they are to feel distant from each other. This can be resolved by deliberately scheduling date nights in, date nights out, TV-free nights, and occasional weekend getaways—just for the two of you.

Make your time count. The quantity of time together is important, but so is the quality of that time. Couples have to be intentional about their time together to create a marital connection. When you and your spouse are talking, put down your cell phone, set aside distractions, and focus on each other. Find ways to bond over shared experiences: taking a walk, cooking dinner, going to a concert or sporting event, or playing a board game or cards together. Encourage and compliment your spouse. Make your moments together count.

Prioritize physical closeness. This is not just referring to sexual intimacy, though that is certainly an important part of marital closeness, but also to the little things that may have fallen by the wayside like holding hands or snuggling on the couch. The key to resurrecting physical touch is to start small. Sit close to each other, give neck massages, and pull out a surprise kiss. Getting closer physically will naturally lead to feeling closer emotionally.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. While the idea of seeking outside input on your marriage can be intimidating to many people, nearly every couple can benefit from marriage counseling. Getting an outside perspective can be extremely helpful to you and your spouse. Read my post to help determine if you should get counseling, and find tips to make sure you find the best counselor for you.

You may feel lonely in your marriage, but you are not alone in the struggle for marital intimacy. We have all experienced loneliness in our lives, but you don’t have to feel it in your marriage.

Have you ever felt lonely in your marriage? How have you responded to these feelings, and what have you done to reconnect with your spouse? Please share your story below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • madeleine

    We had been married for 10 yrs…but I was so lonely–laying in bed next to my husband, I felt like I was miles away from him. I felt like I’d lost my best friend and he was replaced by a robot. talking about it did not seem to help–so I prayed and thought about what is love….then I decided to be loving even if I did not feel it….and I continued to pray asking God to fix us…and He did—some yrs later, we learned about The World wide Marriage Encounter Weekend and went—–we learned how to share our hearts with each other and that love is a decision to do what is caring and good for each other. We learned how to pray together and stay together!! That was almost 30 years ago and our love has grown better than ever and I never feel lonely any more!! Thanks be to God!!

  • http://www.MarkMerrill.com/ Mark Merrill

    What an amazing testimony. Thank you for sharing Madeleine!

  • worthless

    So here is my story. My husband is an otr truck driver, gone Sunday thru Friday, only home Friday evening to Sunday afternoon or sometimes Sunday evening. He likes to work on his mud truck every waking moment he is home and the bad part is we don’t havea big garage so it’s at his buddies house, so also works with him so this is my weekend schedule to see him.

    Friday when I pick him up
    Friday night when he comes home from working on truck
    Saturday in the morning for maybe an hour before he goes to work on truck, sometimes he just wakes me up and tells me he is leaving to work on it
    Saturday night when he gets home from working on truck
    Sunday til he goes to work, and then he is usually watching tv before he goes to work.

    Now when I say Friday and Saturday night I mean 10 pm to sometimes 1 am Saturday morning.
    I am so lonely, not like go find someone else lonely but want my husband to spend time with me lonely. I have mentioned to him I don’t like him gone all the time and I get “I’m in a truck all week I have to have a hobby” Saying it with a bit of pissy tone. I could go with him and sit and do nothing but I have a 13 yr old at home and refuse to make her go sit and be board also. He likes me to go to the mud runs, which I do go to most just so I can see him but I feel I don’t matter to him anymore, it hurts, I cry, I wonder if he really loves me anymore, it’s hard to stay strong but I have to because of my daughter, which also don’t like him gone all the time, she asks me “why don’t dad like to be home with us?” It breaks my heart but I tell her “her just likes to work on cars” then when she goes in her room I go in mine and break down and cry. I know I’m not the most beautiful woman in the world but I’m not ugly either, I look the same now as I did the day we got married 7 yrs ago. He comes home wants sex and I truly feel like that’s all I’m worth to him.
    Well anyways thank you for listening.

  • Lonely Husband

    My wife couldn’t care less about me. She has no interest in me or anything I do. She constantly has her face buried on Facebook and on her phone. I’m pretty sure she’s emotionally cheating on me. Meaning she’s checking out other guys profiles and she always hides her phone screen from me when she’s on Facebook. I feel like I’m being too paranoid but I can’t help but feel this way. If I try and bring it up, she says, “Oh whatever”, and dismisses my feelings. I wake up with a knot in my stomach because I know the next day is going to be the same. I’ll wake up and lay there and she’ll be on her phone, I’ll start getting up and she shuts it off and acts like she’s sleeping or just sit there and act like she’s not doing anything. I feel dead inside but can’t help but still be in love with her. She’s the mother of my 3 kids. What do I do? Confronting her is pretty much useless.

  • Shawn Salvato

    If she is hiding her phone from you then their is probably a problem. Try taking her back to where you first met or kissed and try to rekindle what she once felt. Sometimes with kids and careers you lose that emotional and sexual attraction you once had. Sometimes going back to that one special spot and respark what you guys once had. She herself might have felt alone n neglected and just found someone nice to talk to. Most women love to feel wanted mentally and physically. If she changes something about herself notice it and tell her how good she looks. It’s always the little things that matter..Hope it works out for you guys!

  • Lonely Husband

    She has no romantic bone in her body. I appreciate the input though. I always tell her how beautiful she is and always tell her I love her. I’m always trying to be affectionate but there is no positive reactions. Always just sits there and pulls away. I also notice, she avoids taking pictures with me. It’s all just snowballing

  • Miserably Married

    I wish someone had told me that sex is the ONLY thing that makes a marriage work! I’m miserably married to a man who feels that’s all marriage is! I HATE having sex with him! The more he bullies me about sex, the more I hate it, and the more time we go without it. Help!!! Why must I “make his day” sexually while I stay miserable?

  • Broken Angel

    Every women has a romantic side to them..just like every man likes to be pampered and touched. Your relationship was exactly like mine except I tried talking to him for over 3 yrs on why their was no affection in anyway coming from him. I literally makes you doubt yourself and brought me into a depressed state. The kids will start to notice the distant reactions from the two of you as much as you try to cover it. Everyone says to talk to a relationship therapist but honestly if she’s not wanting and willing it won’t work and sometimes makes it worse. What helped me was letting go little by little and talking w my friends and family again. Just stay positive and try to make it work..but if the kids start noticing things are different and it starts affecting them..My advice would be to do what’s best for them..I’m srry for everything your going threw and wish you guys the best!

  • Mamamia

    My husband told me after I discovered his secret life with the OW and the two children they had that I “don’t know him”

    This is not for lack of trying he spent the most of our 35 years together shutting me out

    I was taught it to nag or pry and this was useful to him in creating his private separate life with his career as the sheild

    Many times the way I learned about what was his life and thinking was in the rare times Iwas included at a work event where a wife was a handy prop for his identity as a “good family man” which I was always prone to speak well of him

    I would overhear someone ask him about sometime and he would freely speak of plans I had not heard of!

    Imagine my hurt to learn he never planned to retire when we could never have that discussion at home

    It turns out that my thoughts that we could finally have a closer relationship eventually was only my dream he had knowledge of but didn’t want to share that knowledge with me

    He now lives alone ,,..bought a dog to replace me and all of he OW he had and the children he had in our marriage and out!

    He has retreated more and more into his own selfish plans All his success is now paycheck to paycheck

    Millions earned and lost since he knows better than God and anyone what he wants and needs no matter the cost to anyone

    It’s everyone else’s problem how he has hurt and used people

    He has become a really skilled liar

    The book of proverbs is his life story and yet he is stubborn and Unreachable

    I pray and thank the Lord daily for healing for us all

    For my husband to be redeemed and our marriage to be restored

    In the meantime I continue with continuing in His word “then you will be my deciples indeed”

  • Mamamia

    Being meek to hear the Lords word certainly is effective
    Hardened hearts need t

  • KG

    You don’t have to stay. He has divorced you already… And he is not pleasing God in the manner of having you around just for his pleasure.

    May I suggest a book for you? Leslie Vernick wrote “the Emotionally Destructive Marriage” (and one on relationships in general). it helped me articulate what I had not been able to put my finger on…

    As a result of so many marriages falling apart bc of various abuses and neglect, our church is starting a ministry in response to domestic violence (this includes emotional/verbal, physical, financial and sexual abuse).

    I hope readers will pray about considering a response to the broken marriages they don’t even know about. Put a ministry out there – a small group of Sunday school class or sermon on marriages and how satan is attacking and relentlessly assaulting them! We must have a strong defense to fight for future generations! We are passing down our brokenness to our kids and grandkids… Mine included.

    I’m not throwing any stones: two marriages. Substance abuse, physical, emotional, sexual abuse… Financial… I did not understand what was happening to my marriage or me. Or my husband (porn, alchohol, anger, abusive & isolating). He has his ton of baggage to deal with but until he is safe and poured out all this junk before the Lord in surrender, our marriage is over. I hope he finds the Lord’s will for his life. Contempt and anger at me because of his issues is not going to happen anymore. My body cannot take the injuries and my heart cannot bear the continual rejection.

    I’m praying for you, dear one.

    PS: I hope you Google Leslie Vernick & Sign up for her emails.

  • KG

    Dear One, have you been praying for your wife?

    Poets all pray the Lord will break the bonds of sin and whatever is going on on FB and phone. She is hiding… I know this behavior well. God knows the whole truth and it is his will for this marriage to be whole.

    I discovered this blog today after a friend sent me this link – please go to it and read over and over and repeat! And pray like you’ve never prayed before. Find a man or two whom you can confide… Ask them to pray over and for you.

    Why you should fight your most important battles on your knees @ http://www.markmerrill.com/why-you-should-fight-your-most-important-battle-on-your-knees.

    Blessings to each of you! KG

  • MHMC

    I pray God will work the same miracle in my marriage.

  • Lauren

    Praying for you as well!

  • Lonely Wife:(

    Thank you for replying to that comment. I’ve been going through this for almost a year- last 5 months have been a lot worse. Your words really helped me, but do you know how I can start to fix the problem? I always take the 1st step in my relationship and fixed many problems over our 11 years but I feel I’m stuck on this one. Praying to Him has no outcome, yet, and I feel I’m slowly losing faith. Advice???

  • Lonely Wife:(

    I have the same exact problem except he doesn’t have a fb profile, it’s his phone period and the people he texts & sneakiness about the whole situation. If I’m outside trying to spend time with him (begging for attention without making it obvious how desperate I am) he will start an arguement so I will go back inside- start arguement so he can go somewhere alone- it hurts so bad when my best friend of 11 years won’t “let me in” anymore. I’ve been depressed yet numb for 1/2 year and tried everything to fix us :'(

  • sara

    i just got married 3 months ago. even when we we’re engaged all we did was fight. our honeymoon, all we did was fight. when we came back from our honeymoon all we did was fight. is it sad that we haven’t hardly touched each other in over 2 months? is it sad that he has threatened to divorce me since the week after we were married? he has to be right all the time. he constantly hits and throws things and verbally abusses me. he doesn’t care anything about going to counseling and he doesn’t want to go to talk to a pastor with me. all have i have done is cried and been miserable this whole time. I don’t know how much more of this i can handle. I don’t want to be unhappy anymore.

  • Anonymous

    Run before its too late. He will treat you like that forever. That is his character and he wont change. You dnt want to regret it afterwards when your stuck with him becuz of a baby. Its ur decision. If ur unhappy then do smthin about it.

  • Anonymous

    So ive been having the same problem. My husband replies to me like im a stranger. Theres no love in his communication. As if im his maid. Hi wats up. Did u do this. U do it like this. Why did i do it this way. His convos always starts with you. When i say something smart… This is why im doing it, he’ll tell me im being rude. Yet its ok for him to cuss, its ok for him to pint me out. Everyday is dreadful, i cant wait until the next day is over before it even being started. When will this cycle end.?

  • Kaleigh

    Sara, I am truly hurting for you and for how your first 3 months of marriage have gone. It sounds like it is painful for you and my heart breaks for yours. Most people would hear your story and say “get out, run while you can” but I want to encourage you to persevere. I believe marriage is created by God to display His love for us and to help us be more like Him. If God designed marriage for this purpose, when did He ever walk away from us? When has He has turned His back on us with no hope? Never. He is faithful even when we are faithless. He has NEVER left you or forsaken you and He will not give you more than you can bear. He also is in the business of redeeming all things and changing hearts. I’m begging God that He would give you the grace to persevere and that He would restore your marriage.

    Also, if he won’t go with you to counseling, go alone. Maybe your pastor or counselor will give you some tools to work out the issues in your marriage. Praying for you today, Sara.

  • Mels

    Kaleigh, I absolutely disagree with your advice to Sara. Her husband is already displaying physical abuse towards her and it will only escalate. Hitting and throwing things is PHYSICAL ABUSE.
    Sara needs to get out NOW, for her own physical safety. Do not EVER stay in an abusive marriage. It could very well cost her, her life!

  • Mels

    The cycle won’t end until/unless your husband decides to work on his issues. There’s nothing you can do to fix him. You need to focus on yourself and fix your issues. And pray that the Holy Spirit will open your husband’s eyes to the Truth.

  • Ronuk

    I am newly married,but my husband is addicted to gadgets and doesn’t bother even if m not well… Instead he shouts at me…doesn’t know how to strike a conversation… If I go silent, he says that I don’t tell him anything…is an all time lazy..all d time he says that he told the same before marriage…insensitive towards my time of sleep… Wants to watch TV late night but is least interested in going out with me…what should I do…

  • BJ_Foster

    I’m so sorry for you and your kids. That type of betrayal is gut-wrenching. Keeping secrets and building double lives does nothing but break relationships apart. Glad to hear you are praying for your husband. In my experience that is the best place to go, particularly when needing restoration. I prayed with you today.

  • Mamamia

    B J Foster
    How grateful I am for prayer support
    Those who win willfully are deceived and spiral down without resisting
    It is deeply grievous to me and our daughters to have seen their father with the other woman we did not know about this new one.
    He shakes us all because he is not behaving like the man we have known

    His saying how sorry he is and how he never wanted to hurt anyone is now nothing since he went right out and did this

    I appreciate your care and it’s actually nice to know SOMEONE outraged

    Many seem to feel like it’s nothing new or offensive

    Romans 1…sadly?

  • Kaleigh

    Mels, thank you for your response. I’m certainly not suggesting someone stay in an abusive relationship particularly when they are threatened physically. However, it’s difficult to diagnosis an abusive relationship from one paragraph and only hearing one side. That’s what a counselor or pastor that is close to the situation would be able to more accurately diagnose. Hitting and throwing things is actually not physical abuse…you can argue it’s emotional abuse which she said is happening in their marriage. But it also looks like an equally volatile relationship. That’s where a counselor comes in with more information and can give the best advice. We need to be careful with limited information advising someone to leave their marriage as a first reaction.