I thought marriage meant you never had to feel alone. A built-in other half. Your BFF always down to hang out and work through life together.
What I found is that I don't have to be alone to be lonely. The same way I can sit in a room full of strangers and be without the company of friends. But worse.
I know what it's like to feel lonely in my marriage. Wanting to connect with my husband but somehow unable to do so. Like my love is muffled. Losing air. Like a bad dream where you're working as hard as you can but still only running in slow motion.
My longest visits to this deserted island occur when I refuse to acknowledge the struggle. When I want to pretend our emotional connection is just fine, or that rescue will come without communicating the need, sending up a flare, or building a fire to alert those who can help.
But I can't fight the loneliness by myself. If I could, I wouldn't have felt ignored to begin with. And my solo attempts make the gloom even thicker. Proof of my isolation and room for all sorts of creepy crawly lies.
So here they are, friends, from my own broken experiences.
How I stop feeling lonely in my marriage:
I address my feelings
Yep. That means I have to feel them. I don't sit and stew in them like dirty bath water - um ... gross - but I have to acknowledge what I'm feeling and why. This one step helps me so much because it forces me to pull back from my circumstances and evaluate what my feelings mean. Emotions are not trustworthy for decision-making, but they are indicators of what's going on in my mind and heart. Am I judging or feeling judged? Trying to avoid pain? Do I feel disconnected because I'm refusing to acknowledge my feelings about something?
I consider him
Oftentimes I'll feel lonely when going through a difficult season, like adjusting to a major life event or recovering from illness. Or I don't know, having a baby. As I address my own feelings, I have the opportunity to consider how our my husband is feeling to and then act out of that consideration. Chances are, he feels lonely too, but doesn't know how to address it and doesn't want to make things worse.
I put myself out there
Communicate. I choose to share what's going on. Not from a place of frustration or pain, although sometimes that will happen. But I seek to communicate from a place of humility. I ask for help! Here's a key for me; I communicate with intention. I am careful to consider the time I share, how I share and what I'm trying to achieve. I want to feel connected with him again, so I keep that goal in mind. That protects me from saying things or lashing out just to make a point or make him feel bad.
This one is a killer. When I start feeling lonely in my marriage it's usually because I've been focusing too much on what we can do together than on who we are together. Checklists don't build a relationship. Sure, the dry cleaning may get done, the house cleaned, and cars maintained, but if most of our conversations center around tasks then I can't be surprised when our friendship or romance suffers. So I set rules for myself. No talking about projects on days of rest. No task list conversations on date nights. Five minutes before we leave on the date? Sure. But once these heels hit the pavement, I'm connecting with my honey, not my honey-do list.
God knows what I need. And in my times of prayer, I give thanks for the ways I don't feel lonely. Even if it's for the way my hubby woke me up to make sure I didn't oversleep this morning or the way he plays with our son. God can restore anything, even lonely seasons in my marriage.
Also, please don't read this post to mean that you must figure things out yourself. Marriage counseling is a powerful tool to help heal your marriage. Don't be afraid to ask for help!
Editor's note: This article was originally published on Jen Weaver's website. It has been republished here with permission.
Jen Weaver is passionate about sharing strength with those who feel stifled. You can find her blogging about faith, marriage, and motherhood on her blog and her latest book, “A Wife’s Secret to Happiness” releases March 2017. You can find her on social media as @thejenweaver.