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 Over time, however, couples can gradually disconnect from one another and find themselves feeling isolated and withdrawn.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.

  • Phil Lane

    HI all,

    My fiancée and I had a baby together outside of a relationship. I was not first in line for fatherhood as it was thought not to be me. She was seeing someone else when she found out she was pregnant but I really fancied her with no response. 6 months went by and I felt quite hurt that we seemed to get on not just physically but on a really good level. Anyways long story short I said regardless I wld support her through everything if my child. Turns out she was my child and now we are both together and have a lovely daugher. As soon as she gave birth she got PND went for counciling and on anti depressants. After around 3 months of me loosing my mind trying to take care of them both and not think how much was going on in my life and still feEling like second best she managed to get herself out of it and eventually start her own business. Now 3 years on they both are everything to me but I hope because of the depression she doesn’t want to sleep with me. I know it’s prob depression but this has gone on for years. I feel alone, angry, frustrated and really hurt by it because she seems to push herself for everything else with all my support and love but can’t understand why I find sex so important. It’s not just about sex I’m doubting everything and it really hurts I can’t even explain. She sets all these goals to meet like go bed earlier, less stress, me be less annoyed which is hard when feel like this and then when I try she says things like she only does it out of guilt. I work, look after my daughter, cook most of time so she can take care of her business and everything I can to show her I love her so she stays happy. I don’t want to break up with her but it feels like I have a hole in my chest most of time and I feel depressed. Please don’t think bad of her it’s not her being like this by choice (I think) but everytime we argue about it she says well find someone who will and I’m being manipulating etc it really belittles something that to me is so important. Please don’t think bad of her she is awesome I love her and I’m not a weak person but I do have feelings and feels like she just doesn’t care. Any advice welcome.

  • Lynne Locke

    I agree 100% none of us are in a position to tell this woman what to do from one paragraph. Only she knows if it’s violent / or workable verbal anger. And both parties need to agree that their is a problem and both agree to seek the professional help needed and speak to others with the same experiences. I just noticed this is 2 yrs old. What was the end result ?
    Kaleigh I think the same logical way you do

  • ThyB

    I have been married for 4 years now. Dated my husband for 10 years before we married. since we got married we have lived separated. Spent only the weekends together. He took care of his dad, while I took care of my mom. We only spoke on the phone, but this past year I have felt like we have been distant with each other. I don’t long for him as I use to and have lived my life not needing someone not needing him. I have become an independent person and I like it. I love and care for him but I am not in love with him. My feelings and emotions are just torn and I don’t know what to do.

  • JD

    My husband changed the day we married, it was seriously like a ligh switch. He does not want sex, doesn’t like to be touched, won’t take a walk, go to the movies or dine out. He is rude to my friends. He will not consider marriage counseling. He has some good qualities. But the day we married, he shut down anything that would lead to emotional intimacy. Almost three years in, and I have grown to hate him for it. We have done a few trips together and he makes it miserable. We may go snorkeling – but not together, shopping – he stands impatiently outside, rare dine out – he refuses to engage in conversation. No intimacy, no fun. We can’t even watch TV together, he only likes Chiller Channel horror movies or documentaries on space aliens. Before marriage, he claimed Christianity and went with me to church. Not any more. This is a second marriage for both of us. I’m 50 and he’s 60. But here’s the big kicker, when my sister is around, which is about once a month or holidays – he acts different – much more affectionate. He will rub my shoulders and act sweet. It makes me even more angry – because it shows- he knows how he should act. I grow to hate him more and more. I can’t take another divorce and I am exhausted. I feel like I’m being used.

  • Annoyed

    I have been married to my husband for about a year and a half. He is addicted to his laptop, cellphone etc. So naturally the only time we spend together and talk is when his phone or tablet dies. And that’s just for a moment. Then it’s the tv. There is no sex, he can’t get it going, (I did not know that) so there goes my nights. He also does not stay committed to a job. I’m Lucky if he is there for 2 months. Now he’s telling me he has to leave home, to find work in another town because he wants to earn more money. We live in a very small town. Not sure if I can stay married.

  • Avichai Davis

    This is very hard, because I feel like this. I first cheated on my wife and not just once but multiple times. My wife over time started to do the same. However every time one of us focused on the other, someone would be aging the cheating game. We were and are still somewhat in a cycle but I’ve been completely faithful to her for the last year and a half. There for our two kids and I’ve apologized for all of y wrong doings. My excuses were just because I felt alone and unloved by her. But I hate myself everyday and I haven’t been able to forgive myself. It hurts to see her still block me out, no matter how Mich I try. She doesn’t let me in. I’ll see her happily talk to other people and barely utter a word to me. I know she’s hurt, even though in the last year she’s the only one guilty of talking to someone else who was supposed to be a guy friend. But each day just gets harder and harder as I’m really trying. No woman deserves to be cheated on and if I could change the past I would. But I can’t. I’m trying my hardest to be everything she deserves, only to get no where.

  • Avichai Davis

    I wish I could talk to you personally. I feel like you could help me out so much with understanding. Because I am so lost.

  • Jamie S High

    Me n my husband don’t talk he plays games all day on his phone..

  • Jamie S High

    My husband is the same way

  • Jamie S High

    I left for six months and my husband changed his aditude toward me

  • Susan

    I’m married 23 years. The past 16 years my husband has been verbally and mentally abusive and early on physically abusive to my children who are now 17 and 20. He stays in the spare bedroom for the last 16 years and only spends time with his dad and brother every weekend excluding me and the kids. We speak during the day maybe 10 minutes. We plan no activities together so it’s as if I’m a single mom. I’ve had no affection for years and this summer my son was diagnosed with PTSD relating to abuse from my husband. I told him he should leave since he has cause so many problems. His dad told him he has to stay and he only listens to what his dad says nothing I ask of him.

  • Colt

    I in an opposite situation….too bad. Sucks.

  • MetalHead4

    I doubt that since you’re on this thread lol.

    On a positive note things have turned a complete 360 since I’ve posted this so cheers 🙂

  • Layla

    So glad for the turnaround! Thank you for sharing it… just shows that there is always hope.

  • clueless husband

    i feel lonely. me and my spouse live almost mechanical life. We have 7 yr old kid. she is busy all the time doing household work or caring for the kid.

  • Plasso Design

    Lonely is an understatement for what I have felt over 15 years of marriage, 2 years of that in separation. I was intentionally abandoned by my wife, easily replaced by career, perfectionism and entitlement. Abandonment happened slowly, but started in the days before vows were shared. I should have stopped the train from leaving the station, but was more afraid of being physically alone than emotionally healthy due to a medical condition and didn’t understand how much heavier isolation weighs on the soul when you laying beside the person you love leads you deeper into loneliness.

    I tried talking to pastors, she would come to church and volunteer but not allow anyone into our space to see and address our reality. I read books and asked her to read with me, she saw the letters on the page but they passed by like a speeding train. I listened to and shared podcasts, video chats, small group studies. I begged for marriage counselling, but was rejected for wanting to bring a stranger into our mess. Two years ago, I finally convinced her to go see a therapist with me. In a one-on-one session, I was told she has to deal with issues she has buried before any couples counselling will have an affect. That’s when I made the decision to leave. I set the stage and left so I would take all the blame for our martial collapse with me. Loving her is not in question. I reached a point where I had to love and respect myself in order to have the energy to care for my three children and support her.

    I have been in the darkest season of my life for the last two years, fighting to free myself from the chains of loneliness my marriage piled onto me. Now she wants me to return. She says “maybe I’m ready to treat you better”. She leverages my guilt with “I can’t prove that to you if you aren’t here all the time”.

    I know God despises divorce, but divorce does not make God despise me. At what point is isolation more detestable and detrimental to our spirit than dissolving a covenant?

  • BJ_Foster

    Sorry it has been so hard. This was heartbreaking to read. I am a little confused though. It seems like you are in a darker and more lonely place now. Do you think things could possibly be different for your wife now? Has she dealt with some of the issues your counselor told you she needs to work on?

  • Plasso Design

    Thank you for the reply, BJ. The place I’m in right now is very confusing and uncertain. My wife has not dealt with any issues our counselor pointed out. She met with him on a couple of occasions for one-on-one sessions, but has not returned in over a year. I have been an optimist by nature (one of the things my wife verbalizes is a flaw in me), but this season has suppressed that nature. I keep my eyes and ears open, looking for new something to inspire hope that things are different for her now, but our interactions have been more of the same. I ask her what is/will be different, she says she doesn’t know and wants to be accepted as she is. I tell her I need to experience us relating differently to feel safe trying to reunite, but she says she can’t give me that unless I move back. My intuition tells me it is a trap, but I also question if that being caught is a sacrifice I need to make for my children.

    I continue waiting, watching, and making opportunities for my wife to show me a return is safe by her actions. I have reached a place where I can let go of disappointment when those opportunities do not yield the results I watch for. After two years of separation, emotional and financial strain, I feel I have to define a line for enough being enough. This is my spiritual wrestling match.

  • Plasso Design

    Thank you for the reply, BJ. I have hope things could be different for my wife, and I look for any signs that her heart has changed. She has not addressed any of the issues our counselor brought up. She has been less combative lately, but my intuition screams to be cautious. I am looking for signs of her pursuing me and our relationship by her actions, signs of life and fighting for something she wants. So far the best I have received are occasional words and abrasive communication occurring less frequently.

    I feel incomplete and have reached out to her to help put our pieces back together, but she doesn’t engage. I told her very recently that hope alone doesn’t change anything, we must take action then hope for results.