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Why are You Lonely in Marriage and What Can You Do about it?

Why are You Lonely in Marriage and What Can You Do about it?

Updated on Jul 28, 2023

Reviewed by Katina Tarver, MA (Mental Health and Wellness Counseling) , Life & Relationship Coach

Why are You Lonely in Marriage and What Can You Do about it

Feeling lonely in marriage is a very unfortunate space to be in. Though not all marriages work the same way, you at least expect your partner to not make you feel isolated.

Sometimes you probably regret getting married because life before marriage was far better.

Bestie, I understand this pain but take control of the bitterness in your heart. You forgot one thing… loneliness isn’t here to stay forever. In fact, you can work on this issue and bring back the fun times!

So, let’s quickly get to work here…

Signs of Loneliness in Marriage
What to Do in a Lonely Marriage?

What is loneliness in marriage?

Loneliness in marriage is when you and your spouse are in the same room spending time together yet you don’t feel any bond or connection with them.

Emotional support is one of the foundation pillars of marriage. When spouses spend time and live together but don’t feel any connection or bond with each other, that’s when they feel lonely in a marriage or that’s loneliness in a marriage.

When you’re feeling lonely in your marriage, you and your spouse don’t have anything to talk about. The silence is extremely uncomfortable and awkward. There’s zero physical, mental, or emotional intimacy when you feel lonely in a marriage.

Instead, you get into lots of fights, resent your partner, don’t share your feelings, and assume the worst about each other due to the lack of empathy in the marriage.

However, the definition or parameters of feeling lonely differ from person to person.

Many people assume that loneliness in marriage and emotional neglect are the same. But let’s know the truth here…

Loneliness in Marriage vs Emotional Neglect

Loneliness in your marriage is usually temporary and happens due to changing and tough life circumstances. But emotional neglect is when someone makes you feel lonely intentionally. It’s a form of emotional abuse.

In marriage, loneliness stems from natural changes in life like difficult work schedules, new interests, a lack of common interests, children, and having no common purpose. Loneliness in marriage is temporary and happens in certain phases.

On the other hand, when you feel your partner doesn’t meet your reasonable needs and isn’t emotionally supportive, that’s emotional neglect.

However, if your partner occasionally refuses you sex or ignores you after a fight, that’s not emotional neglect… because that’s not intentional.

When a person emotionally neglects their partner knowingly to make them suffer and it becomes a habit, that’s true emotional neglect.

Wondering if loneliness in marriage is a usual thing? Let’s find the answers here…

Is it normal to feel lonely in a marriage?

As per studies, 1 in 3 adults feel lonely in their marriage. But just because it’s common, doesn’t mean you must silently accept this.

In marriages and long-term relationships, feelings of loneliness are pretty common.  As per a 2018 AARP national survey on adults over the age of 45, they found that 1 out of 3 adult participants reported being lonely.

However, that in no way means that feeling lonely in your marriage is okay or you can ignore it. Loneliness in marriages is often a precursor to suppressed or underlying problems in the marriage or your personal life. If you don’t address them ASAP, you might put your marriage in danger.

Wondering if you’re truly lonely in your marriage? These signs will help you.

Signs of lonely in marriage

It’s hard to detect when you start feeling lonely in your marriage. Initially, you don’t feel “why don’t they give me time?”… instead you feel cranky and get into lots of arguments which hurt your marriage. So, before you hurt your spouse or marriage, check for these signs…

1. You hardly get intimate moments

Intimate moments don’t refer to when you have sex. It can be any time when you feel a sense of connection with your spouse. It might be through words, touch, favors, or anything else that makes you feel loved and cherished.

If you can’t remember the last time you held hands or felt connected to your partner… or the very fact that you must think about it is one of the major signs of loneliness in a relationship or marriage.

2. You stopped sharing things about your day

In happy marriages, couples share what they did throughout the day or about their routine the next day. The spouses drift off into a deep conversation and feel connected as if they’re one soul leading to lives.

If you don’t have similar dynamics in your marriage, prefer keeping these stories to yourself, or can’t stand each other’s stories about their day… that’s another glaring sign of loneliness in your marriage.

3. You forget birthdays and anniversaries

Happily married couples remember all the important days about each other and their family. It can be as simple as birthdays and anniversaries… or something more important as your kid’s assignment submission date or your spouse’s presentation.

If you guys hardly remember the birthdays and anniversaries… leave alone the serious ones like meetings and presentations… that’s a grave sign of loneliness in your marriage. It shows that you both don’t value each other anymore.

4. Your spouse hesitates to reach out

Marriage is all about being life partners. Spouses help each other out and seek each other’s help in a good marriage. However, if your spouse used to be the same at one point but no longer does it, that’s another red flag of loneliness in marriage.

Probably, your spouse gave up depending on you. It’s probably due to your behavior or actions. Think about why they’d act this way. Did you let them down?

5. You’re lonely when you’re physically together

When you guys are together, pay attention to your feelings. In a happy marriage, you’ll feel an emotional connection with your partner when you’re together.

If you feel disconnected even when you’re both sitting right beside each other, that’s a sign that a sense of loneliness crept inside your marriage.

You’ll feel as if there’s an invisible barrier between you both and have no idea about how to fix that.

6. You both avoid each other on purpose

Married people try to take any opportunity possible to spend quality time together. They try to wrap up their work early, get home on time, wait for each other to get done for the day, and chat before bedtime.

However, if you and your spouse stay occupied with work till late or always give excuses to stay away from each other… if you both immerse in social media instead of connecting with each other… feelings of isolation are high in your marriage.

7. Sex is a story of past life

Another vivid sign that you feel lonely in your marriage is that you guys have little to no sex, give excuses to avoid sex, or your spouse is never in the mood.

Sex is the ultimate way to connect with your spouse physically and also emotionally. Relationship experts always state that the key to healthy relationships is regular sex.

Because sex makes spouses feel desired, appreciated, and loved. It boosts feel-good hormones and confidence.

8. You never try to align your interests

Very few spouses share lots of common interests… and that’s normal. But if they show interest in each other’s likes, that’s a good sign. It shows they prioritize spending time together.

However, if you and your spouse don’t want to introduce each other to your interests and you’d rather indulge in your interests alone… that’s another tell-tale sign of feeling lonely in your marriage.

9. You don’t yearn for each other

In the honeymoon phase of your relationship, you miss each other a lot and always think about what the other person is up to.

Well, this feeling soon wears off, but couples still try to keep the spark on with goodnight and good morning kisses or some form of affection.

However, if you and your spouse put no effort like that, loneliness is definitely present in your marriage.

10. You don’t feel your needs are met

In a healthy relationship, couples must cater to each other’s needs and wants… so long it doesn’t affect their own lives negatively.

However, in our marriage, if you feel your needs and expectations like safety, love, food, shelter, or love are hardly met, there’s loneliness in your marriage.

Wondering what’s the reason behind everything? Here’s the deal…

Why do I feel lonely in my marriage?

Loneliness in marriage is more evident among wives over husbands. So, women get a bad rep for being clingy which is the alleged reason behind the feeling. However, that’s completely wrong… find the truth here…

1. It’s due to work and family pressure

Marriage is a responsibility in itself. So, the most common reason behind loneliness in marital life might be nothing but a bundle of responsibilities.

Perhaps your partner is too busy juggling deadlines in their workplace, taking care of their parents, minding the kids, and the finances.

Responsibilities overwhelm them and they’re busy calming their nerves all the time. Meanwhile, they put the marriage on the back burner because they can’t balance everything.

2. You are codependent

If you depend on your partner for too many needs, that might also be an issue. Perhaps, instead of connecting with your friends, family, or even your neighbors… you depend on your partner to fulfill those roles.

If you expect your spouse to satisfy your social needs, that’s an unreasonable and unrealistic expectation which will ultimately make you feel lonely.

3. You met a wretched situation

Sometimes, life hits you with too many challenges at once. This can create a strain on the healthiest relationships.

Especially, when couples deal with long-term stressful issues like loss of job, financial instability, or even conception issues, this might eventually weaken the marital bond.

During these phases, you feel your spouse isn’t supportive enough and even take out your stress on them.

4. You can’t be vulnerable

If you have difficulties being vulnerable with your partner, it can lead to troubles like the feeling of loneliness. Since you always put up a wall around you, your partner won’t know anything about your suppressed emotions.

When they don’t understand much about you, they can’t connect with you emotionally… and that might make you feel lonely and dissatisfied with the marriage.

5. Social media got the best of you

In social media, people pretend to lead a perfect life. This is because we post only the best bits. No couple airs their dirty laundry online.

This kind of comparison with others’ feeds or even the cute “couple goals” videos might stem loneliness in you.

6. You lack emotional connection

Your marriage lacks emotional connection if you feel your partner doesn’t pay attention to you. You keep talking to your partner, but they’re either busy with work, kids, on their phone, or are watching the news.

You’re feeling isolated because your partner doesn’t show interest in your life. They’re always busy and avoid you when you approach them. This hurts you and you feel distant.

7. There’s no effort in the marriage

Marital life is boring and hectic, so making time for each other is a must. But if your partner never puts effort or only does the bare minimum to keep the household moving, that’s a great issue.

If your partner doesn’t try to make time for you in their daily life, you’ll eventually feel left out. Perhaps, all of their efforts go for the kids, their parents, and work… and you resent them for that.

8. Your schedules don’t match

If you’re always busy handling the kids and chores while your partner is busy with work and taking care of their sick parents… you guys are always tired at the end of the day and often don’t even go to bed together.

Or, if you both work different shifts, that’s a bigger concern.

You can’t work your schedules through to make time for each other which might stem the loneliness.

9. There’s a power imbalance

If you’re in a toxic or abusive marriage, especially if you’re emotionally abused regularly, you always tiptoe in your marriage. You don’t want to commit mistakes and get abused.

The fear of being abused and bullied prevents you from opening your heart and you share the least with them… which eventually leads to loneliness.

10. The physical intimacy is missing

Think about how frequently you get physically or sexually intimate. If you guys hardly ever get naughty in your marriage or you don’t even hold hands, hug, or kiss, that might also make you feel lonely.

Physical contact helps you bond better because of neurotransmitter release in the bloodstream. So, both physical and sexual intimacy can help you feel more connected.

11. It’s an aftereffect of past experiences

If your partner grew up in a family where spouses went on with their days and never made time for each other, they might believe that’s natural in marriages.

On the other hand, if they reached out to their parents or siblings in childhood or even a partner in the past for their loneliness… only to be shamed for being weak, that might be another reason.

12. There are health concerns

If you or your partner has a chronic or terminal disease, the sick one is always busy getting treatments and can hardly connect with the other one.

This can also attract loneliness in your marriage if you guys can’t spend quality time because of the disease or are constantly afraid of losing each other.

13. Your partner is pessimistic

If your partner always says the worst about every situation and person, their negativity can rub off on you. It’s normal to feel lonely when your partner always tries to put you down instead of cheering you on.

Moreover, if they also try to cope with their negativity with alcohol and drugs, the feelings of isolation become even worse.

14. Communication is missing

Clear, open, and honest communication is important for a healthy marriage. If you can’t communicate your feelings to your partner, they can’t understand you. In this situation, they can’t help you unless you open up.

On the other hand, if your partner has communication issues, they probably don’t know how to make you feel cherished which results in your loneliness.

15. Someone lost their heart elsewhere

If your spouse fell in love with someone new, they won’t pay attention to your needs as they’re lost in the fleeting emotions of a new romance.

But if you fell in love with someone else, you might magnify your spouse’s shortcomings and exaggerate the issues.

In both cases, you’ll feel lonely in your marriage.

Wondering where the real cause of your loneliness lies? Let’s find that out here…

How do you know if the loneliness is because of you or your marriage?

As you notice, some causes are solely your personal issues while others are troubles from the relationship. So, it’s hard to pinpoint where exactly the root of loneliness lies.

So, talk to your partner about your feelings of loneliness and that you feel emotionally abandoned. From this, two situations can arise:

1. If your partner gives legit examples of their regular attempts at emotionally connecting with you but you feel it’s not enough, it’s probably your personal issue.

  • You must dig into your past relationship to find if there’s any pattern of this feeling. If you find a pattern, you feel dissatisfied in any relationship when the fun and exciting phase wears off.

2. If your partner also agrees to the feelings of being lonely, the relationship might be the root.

In this case, loneliness is contagious and your partner probably feels the same because of your feelings.

  • You must find out whether you both feel lonely even when you’re together.
  • Try to figure out if you both feel lonely after you entered the relationship.
  • Also, find out if you felt more satisfied in your relationship in the past and if it suddenly changed.

If you match at least two of these, your marriage isn’t working. Probably, you guys drifted apart with time.

Do you plan to ignore the lonely feeling? Check this before taking the decision…

Effects of lonely in marriage

Probably someone told you to man up or stop being clingy and you want to ignore your feelings. People can’t understand your situation… but you have to! Understand why you must address your feelings here…

1. It might spike alcohol and substance abuse to numb the emotional pain and forget reality for a while.

2. You might increase your chances of getting depression.

3. With poor mental health, substance overuse, or stress of being lonely, your Immunity also declines

4. Due to the above effects, your overall health deteriorates with time

5. Isolation can also cause major health issues like stroke and cardiovascular disease.

6. You might give up on self-care like healthy eating and exercising.

7. Stress and loneliness might spike negativity in your mind.

8. Loneliness makes you feel undesired which impacts your motivation even in work life.

9. You might even pick up poor habits like binge eating and excess fast food consumption to enhance your mood.

10. You might seek validation outside your marriage and get involved in adultery. This ruins your personal life with guilt and depression.

Is your marriage the reason behind your loneliness? Then let’s try to fix that here…

What to do in a lonely marriage?

If the root cause of your loneliness is your marriage and not you, then you must work on the issue with your spouse. You can’t fix the problem unless you work on it together, so follow this…

1. Have an open conversation in a different environment

As per the study in the Journal of Family Psychology, spouses in heterosexual marriages don’t feel lonely in the same way.

While a wife feels isolated and hurt, the husband doesn’t realize if this is at all loneliness. So, you must verbally express your feelings to find out if they’re on the same page.

Try to have this conversation while doing something fun like a walk in the park or while playing a board game or dancing together… but nothing too heavy and distracting!

This can relieve some pressure and help you communicate with an open mind.

2. Be open to their point of view

It might be all a big misunderstanding due to a temporary issue. So, patiently listen to your spouse’s opinion about it. Perhaps, your spouse is struggling with an issue at the office and can’t focus on the marriage.

Before you assume the worst about your partner, hold your horses. Don’t assume that their reason is a lame excuse, it might be genuine.

Give yourself time to comprehend their words. If you want, take a day to let their reasons sink in.

3. Identify where things went wrong together

Compare how your marriage changed. Mention what you liked initially and how the change affects your feelings. Ask your spouse about how they feel, whether they see any changes and what they are.

Then try to find out the reasons behind the changes. Identify whether the changes are reversible and how you plan to change them. If you find the exact reasons, you can work on it faster and more efficiently.

4. Figure out your love languages and apply them

There are five languages of love: words of affirmation, physical contact, quality time, acts of service, and gifts. You both may not have the same love language which might be the cause of your loneliness.

Perhaps, your spouse expresses love in a different language, so you don’t perceive that as an affectionate action.

Once you both know each other’s love language, you can express your feelings in the language you understand better… whether it’s something as little as helping out with chores (acts of service) or bringing your favorite cake on their way back home (gifts).

5. Reminisce about the better times

Pre Wedding shoots, wedding videos, honeymoon shots, or maternity photographs… you made lots of memories together right from when you started dating and past the moment of tying the knot.

There are some intimate memories that only you both know. You both crossed many hurdles together and the world has no idea.

Talk about all the beautiful, sad, funny, and naughty memories to feel closer to each other. Memories will help you connect better and easier. So, share a laugh once more about the old times.

6. Try out ways to build different types of intimacy

Intimacy doesn’t stop at physical, sexual, and emotional. There are many more forms of intimacy, so try to build all of them one by one.

You can take up a common hobby like learning a new dance form or a new cooking skill. If you want it to be more fun, you can try outdoor activities like skydiving and bungee jumping.

If you don’t have enough time, do daily chores together and flirt in between.

7. Go on dates

One way to keep your marriage evergreen and prevent feelings of loneliness from seeping between you guys is dates. Schedule a date every weekend. Take turns choosing the date idea.

This will strengthen your connection in a fun way. You can also check in about your feelings on this day.

On the weekends you’ll both look forward to the date and gladly make preparations for it. So, you won’t have time to think about negative things at all.

8. Seek a marriage therapist

If you’ve tried everything and still struggle, you can take better help from a licensed marriage and family therapist.

They can guide you to reach the bottom of the issue faster and carve a solid plan to work on it. Just stay truthful to your therapist about your feelings.

On the other hand, you can also ask them to recommend you self-help books on relationships and communications.

9. Build an inner social circle

Don’t always depend on your partner for your happiness. Suppose your partner gets bogged down with word on your movie date and you were so excited about this movie. So, you cancel your plans because they can’t accompany you and this leads to further resentment.

You can avoid this a lot if you have a strong social circle. So, step out of your room and connect with your friends and family. Have people you can always depend on.

And if nobody can make it… why don’t you pamper yourself by watching that movie alone?

10. Understand when to give up

Bind yourself in a time frame to work on this issue. You can’t give away the rest of your life trying to work on a marriage that can’t work out. Ask your therapist how long it might take you to fix the issue.

On the other hand, notice how much effort your spouse puts into this. If they seem disinterested, don’t take it seriously, or repeat the same patterns, apologize, but don’t change… you can’t invest any more time.

Make sure your spouse actually wants to work on the marriage too. If they say or show they don’t want it, it’s time to walk away.

However, if it isn’t because of your marriage, let’s change the strategy here…

How to stop feeling lonely in a marriage?

If your spouse is chilled and happy in your marriage, you probably have some underlying issues in your life. So, figure out the problems and work on them with these steps…

1. Find out if it’s mutual

Before you assume that your feelings are just your own, discuss them together. Check in one last time to know whether your partner feels lonely in your marriage even if you asked them before.

If they say they also feel lonely, follow the previous set of tips. If they say they’re quite satisfied in the marriage and the loneliness is one-sided, these tips will help you.

Ask them to be more understanding and emotionally supportive for some time until you feel better.

2. Keep the blames off

When you know that your partner doesn’t feel lonely and it’s just you… you might feel even more hurt and betrayed.

You might assume that it’s because you put lots of effort into the marriage… while they only enjoy it and don’t reciprocate even a bit and have it easy.

Don’t overthink the situation and get rid of such negative thoughts. If your spouse feels attacked, they’ll react defensively and you’ll feel worse.

Instead of fighting, tell them what you need to feel better.

3. Dedicate time to each other and try

Plan dates when your schedules align. Put effort to connect better and ask your spouse to reciprocate similarly. For the weekdays, ask your spouse to wait until you’re ready to hit the bed. Give each other massages and back scratches while you talk and fall asleep.

Make sure you spend screen-free time. Get done with all the responsibilities so you don’t get distracted by anything. If possible, turn your phone to vibration and put it face down so no light distracts you.

4. Get over the brooding and learn to be happy alone

The topic of loneliness haunts you 24/7 and makes you feel much more miserable than normal. Remember, though your spouse is important, they’re not everything… you are.

So, try to live a life depending on yourself. You came to this world alone… and you’ll also go alone.

Get over the expectations from that one person. Instead, go meet your loved ones and understand that you can count on them any day!

Even if nobody can stay by your side… why do you fear loneliness?

You’re awesome and you can shine by yourself. Get a job, earn, pamper yourself with your own money… and see how happy you feel.

5. Pick up a hobby

A hobby is the best way to keep yourself distracted from everything. If you have a lot of free time, instead of shutting yourself in a dark room and waiting for your spouse, invest in your hobby.

Learn worthy skills like cooking, dancing, singing, jewelry making, carpentry, and so much more. You can even make a side business out of your skills.

You can even give others lessons and make more acquaintances. You won’t feel lonely then.

6. Accept socializing invitations

Married people usually refuse any sort of socializing invitations unless their spouse is also invited. Don’t depend on them so much and decide for yourself.

In fact, if you don’t hate the other person or if they’re not suspicious, just accept it. If you have kids to take care of, get a babysitter, leave them with your parents, or take them with you if it’s a family party.

Have fun whenever you get the opportunity and you’ll expand your social circle this way.

7. Or, invite others to socialize

If you don’t get invited to parties a lot or don’t want to attend the ones where you get invited… that’s okay. Why don’t you plan your own?

Invite all of your loved ones to your home, prepare a wholesome meal together, and have your share of gossip. If your spouse is also at home, don’t forget to invite their loved ones.

If you can’t bring them over to your house for any reason, go out to the shopping mall or arcade with them.

8. Put efforts into the promotion

If you have a job, that’s a great way to stay busy. Focus on your professional life, work harder, and aim for a bonus or a promotion.

Create a good rapport with your coworkers and they’ll guide you whenever you get stuck. Don’t skip on the after-work parties as you can connect with influential people. If you wish to build your own business someday, connections will help you out in many ways.

9. Watch your health

Loneliness makes people careless about their diet and daily routine. Don’t overindulge in junk food. Try to have more homemade food and exercise regularly.

Join gym, yoga, meditation, or aerobics class. Replenish yourself with water, and listen to good music during exercise or while doing chores. This will pump all the good mood hormones and help you feel more positive.

10. Join couples therapy

You will focus on your life a lot more, so your spouse might feel left out of it. If they don’t support your journey or say you’re overreacting and don’t need anything else, tell them they can join you any moment… but don’t change your routine.

If they don’t understand your point of view, there’s no point arguing over it. Rather seek a couples therapist to help you with communication issues.

A word from ThePleasantRelationship

While you work on your lonely feelings in the marriage, don’t long for the dynamics of someone else’s marriage. With the natural ebb and flow of your marriage, it’s normal to experience lonely phases.

Sometimes, you won’t have your spouse’s attention. You can’t help that because that’s how life works.

So, instead of jumping to conclusions, initiate conversations regularly to understand what’s up and why your spouse lost focus.

That way, you guys will have lesser misunderstandings and lead a happy marital life.