Marriage Missions International

Lonely Though Married – Marriage Message #76

To be lonely when you’re married can seem contradictory —the two don’t seem like they should go together. It’s like being lonely in a crowd. How is this possible? But it happens, even in the best of marriages. No marriage can meet your all needs because marriage contains two imperfect people. One imperfect person plus another imperfect person adds up to an imperfect marriage. So it’s not unusual for needs to go unmet.

The Bible says “In your anger, sin not.” But God impressed upon Steve and me to warn you that in your lonely times when you perceive your needs are not met, to “SIN NOT” as well. We see it continually in the letters we receive and the comments posted on the web site that loneliness brings out a vulnerabilities that many try to escape at all costs. And the costs are great. To combat this problem, we encourage you to prayerfully consider the following thoughts:

Shana Schutte (in “The Gift of Loneliness” article) writes,

“Everyone experiences loneliness at some time. It’s a common denominator in the equation of life. It’s also something no one likes to feel, so our natural response is to run from it, avoid it or deny it by filling our lives with a million distractions. God has a better way.

“When we sink into loneliness and allow it to do its redemptive work by embracing it, it can be a powerful teacher. And as Henri Nouwen writes in his book, The Inner Voice of Love, we may find our ‘loneliness not only tolerable,’ but even fruitful.

Luke 5:16 says, ‘Jesus withdrew into lonely places and he prayed.’ True, Christ may not have been lonely, but just ‘withdrew into lonely places.’ However, in the same way that his lonely places provided a place of hope for Him, the loneliness you sometimes feel can promote positive change in your life.”

I’ve personally learned this to be true. When Steve is away on business trips or busy with other matters, God has shown me ways to turn these alone times into positives where I do things that will make the time special and help the time to go by faster (like spending one-on one time with God, family, friends, hobbies, interests, and such).

I’ve also learned that being alone can sometimes be a blessing in disguise because you can learn some things during that time. For one:

“Spend time alone to think about what you are expecting from your partner. Are they aware of what you are looking for? Remember that we all grow and change over time. Perhaps your needs have changed. Discuss this with your partner. Sometimes we assume our partners know things that we haven’t communicated to them” (From an eHow article titled “How to Overcome Loneliness in Marriage“).

In the above article, the writer gives other suggestions for marriage partners who are lonely (which you may want to read by clicking into the link provided). But there is another way to view this “alone time” as well where God may want to teach you something else or use the time in an entirely different way. That’s what author Rosemary Gwaltney discovered and she wrote about it in her article “Loneliness in Marriage” (where she described what she learned through books written by Elisabeth Elliot, as well as what the Lord taught her through life experiences). She wrote:

“Without some ‘down time’ spent alone, with yearnings unfulfilled, when would we take time to communicate WITH God? Not just talk TO Him, but LISTEN for His guidance. It is fascinating to me that our great, omnipotent God, does not speak by thundering from the clouds, as He could. (Would we, in our human immaturity, rebel against that powerful, resounding voice, call it ‘bossy’, and reject it?)

“Well, God created us, complete with immaturity and everything. And the fact is, He has chosen to speak in a still, small voice. That forces us to be quiet, and listen, in order to hear. In other words, we can’t hear, unless we want to, and try to. We hear best, when in a quiet place, undisturbed.

“I have learned much about forced isolation, since this present marriage. This is a good marriage; my husband a good man, and a good father. He is usually deeply absorbed in his own work, and emotionally unavailable; but is a steady, calm, and pleasant husband, with a rich sense of humor. I absolutely love his laughter! I long to be a godly and pleasant wife.

“When I yearn for attention or affection, and the time is not right, I go straight to God, searching for grace. I’m on a mission for peace in my own heart. I want to be able to accept that my husband’s desires are not always going to match up with mine; and be satisfied and happy with that. It’s much harder than it sounds. It takes a lot of prayer, humility, and ‘dying to self.’

“One thing is plain for me to see. God has put me here, in a marriage that I wanted to be in, and am glad to be in. He knew I was going to experience loneliness in a new way. Therefore, He clearly sees this as being good for me… I am able to leave the future in God’s hands, and not worry about it. It is the present that I must deal with. It is minutes, hours, and days, when I have to again pray for grace, acceptance, and the absence of resentment or bitterness.”

Veda Ylandra Taylor writes the following on loneliness (which can apply whether you are married or single):

“God never promised that things would be easy but I know that God is faithful and as alone as the enemy wants me to believe that I am I know that I am not. As I read and meditate on God’s Holy Word I find evidence of it through out the scriptures. I know that he has a plan for my life.

“Even when I decide that there is a temptation so great that I am not able to overcome it, He still does not let it come to pass. That alone tells me that His will for my life is too important for Him to allow me to mess it up over something that will not even benefit me in the long run. Yes, it may satisfy a need right now but it will only hinder what God has for me in the future.

So I have decided to fight on another day. To keep trusting and believing that he will come through. I may not see it now but it shall come to pass. I hold on to that and I am able to go on” (Veda Ylandra Taylor, from web site article “Confessions of a Lonely Christian“).

It may be that God impresses upon you to “speak the truth in love” to your spouse on this matter. If so, you may want to do what Jeannette and Robert Lauer suggest,

“Write a list of the kinds of activities and changes that will relieve your loneliness. Ask yourself if the items are realistic. It’s not realistic, for example, to expect a personality change. It is realistic to ask for extra effort. Although an introvert won’t become an extravert, for instance, he can become more outgoing.

“Next, ask if the suggested changes on your action list are sufficiently specific. Diane’s first effort— ’We need to spend more time together’ —was too general. She finally came up with more specific suggestions: ‘We need to spend time together each day —lingering over a cup of coffee after dinner, walking the dog around the block, or talking about the events of the day. And we need to go on dates at least twice a month.’

“The more specific, the better. For instance, saying, ‘I need you to be more communicative’ is so general that your spouse may find it difficult to respond. But saying, ‘I need you share with me one feeling you have each day’ is a specific request to which he can respond.” (From the article “Married but Lonely“)

Also consider what Tim Gardner writes (in the Marriage Partnership Magazine article “Alone Together“):

“The act of getting married won’t put an end to your loneliness. To achieve that goal, you have to follow your initial commitment with appropriate action. When couples come to me for counseling, we often discuss the need for a ‘married mindset.’ It sounds obvious, but the truth is married couples often continue to think like single people. They agree to be places and do things without considering their partner’s schedule —or even his or her preferences. They are married, but their actions don’t reflect it. That’s what leads to loneliness.

“I have yet to meet the couple who say, ‘You know, we think about each other constantly. We never commit to a weekend or evening activity until we discuss it. We’re always calling each other during the day to touch base. But you know what? I just wish this loneliness would end.’

“God proclaimed that it was ‘not good’ for Adam to be alone, and it’s not good for us either. When couples are guided by a married mindset they don’t struggle with loneliness. Considering one another’s needs, wants and preferences shows that they are committed to loving each other, to nurturing and caring for one another, to treating each other with respect. They solve their own loneliness by working to obliterate their mate’s loneliness. Sounds odd, maybe, but that’s how it works.

“Spouses become lonely because one or both partners focus most of their energy on something other than their mate. Their communication dwindles to ‘what’s for supper?’ ‘where’s the mail?’ and ‘here’s what I’m doing this weekend.’ Without communication, there can be no emotional connection. And without a strong emotional connection, there can be no relationship.

To help you further in this, we have quite a few articles, conversation starters, and communication tools posted on our web site.

But, what if you don’t have a spouse who will partner with you in this mission? First off, guard your heart. This can be a vulnerable time in your life to fall into temptation —to do that which you shouldn’t, but you want to because of the ache of loneliness.

Susie Larson, author of Alone in Marriage: Encouragement For the Times When It’s All Up to You, talks in the following Focus on the Family web site audio exclusive, about avoiding temptation during a lonely season of marriage. We recommend you listen to:

• TEMPTATION IN A LONELY MARRIAGE

Please know that loneliness is not what God intended for you in your marriage. But even so, He can help you. If your spouse won’t join God to help you in your loneliness, then look to the Lord even more to fill this void. Cindy McMenamin writes:

“We’re told in the Bible that God saw that Leah was unloved, so He allowed her to conceive a child (Genesis 29:31). When Leah bore her first son, she said, “It is because the LORD has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.” But Jacob’s love didn’t follow. So Leah had another son. And another. And after bearing that third son, she again hoped that would do the trick, saying, “Surely my husband will love me now.” But still, he didn’t.

“After giving Jacob a fourth son, and seeing that her husband still favored Rachel, Leah simply said, “This time I will praise the LORD” (Genesis 29:35).

“I love how Leah’s focus finally shifted. No longer did she seek after her husband’s love; instead, she looked to the Lord who loved her. (And, incidentally, it was that fourth son, named Judah, that God chose as the bloodline through whom His Son, Jesus, would eventually be born. Could it be that God’s reward followed when Leah finally gained her focus?).” (From the article, “Married and Lonely: Looking to Your Heavenly Husband“)

If you’re lonely in your marriage we encourage you to keep seeking the Lord on this matter. And don’t give up. Somehow He will help you as you seek Him. “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

May God bless you in this New Year,
Cindy and Steve Wright
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12 Responses to “Lonely Though Married – Marriage Message #76”
  1. LYDIA says:

    (US)  I thank God for the reading of this type of loneliness. But I was feeling that maybe I need to be alone instead of being in a home with a man and feeling that I’m in this marriage of paying bills, cooking, washing his clothes, ironing his clothes, deciding on everything to say and do. He will do things harmful to himself and wants me to be his mother. I’m not a mother and I do not want to raise a grown man, so… this helps me to see that I have to find something that will make me happy and not worry about him.

    • Kaye says:

      (US)  I am a PhD psychologist and I was very concerned that a Art History Major with no children was writing and giving parenting advice. I just read her new book, Betrayed By God? She has betrayed herself by not accepting that being married may be her intimacy issue or that she doesn’t want to be married. Can anyone write a book these days because they free lance some (with credentials) and expect anyone to feel that she has credibility?

  2. Denis says:

    (USA)  God’s words are great! Thank you for sharing some of them with me.

  3. Carol says:

    (USA)  Hmm, I hope the author rethinks her postion a bit. It is not all about adjusting to meet the spouses needs and schedule. It is not about legitimizing loneliness through God’s word. There must be more give and take and the husband absolutely must come off his cloud and surrender some of that control, time and space. I find no room for joy in this writing, only an explanation of how she copes in her misery. It is still misery. She is still lonely. You can dance all around the issue, but where does she stand up for herself, respectfully so? Don’t legalize your loneliness with Bible passages. Stand up and wave your flag a bit. Make some noise, cry out loud… but don’t ever give in and think that that is an ok life… for the rest of your life. Yuck.

  4. Jessica says:

    (US)  This was a book I finished in a few hours. Not much substance. I am teacher and been in church my entire life. My dad was minister, my uncle, etc. All went to seminiary. I asked my dad to read it. I thought maybe I’m wrong. He said this is a woman that is broken emotionally. She is disappointed in her life and she is passive about changing it. I agree with the reader above… you can pull out one verse from parts of the Bible to justify your actions, your situation, unhappiness which it screams, etc.

    She is single at 43 years old. I think that speaks volume for her lack of knowledge in this subject matter. She does not have children or a degree in English, Christian Education, and is a former art history teacher. Yep, only in America can someone write a book without any experience or substance. It is like reading a sad, boring story of a reality tv star. She has no business doing public speaking.

  5. Elizabeth says:

    (USA)  I agree with Carol, Jessica, and Kaye. I am a devoted Christian and a licensed professional counselor. I assume she had no credentials other than some articles published via Focus on the Family. There is no mention of a Christian Education degree, position in the church, etc. I do Bible studies in my home and at church and have my entire life. I am married with two children. But do I feel that I can write a book? No, despite that I have been married for 25 years, counsel couples, youth, etc.

    I saw on internet that she writes about divorce, marriage and parenting. Personally, I don’t think anyone should write a book without credentials or real life experience. I did purchase the book as I am also in a Christian book club. It had no substance. My daughter’s husband is a doctor serving our country in Iraq. My daughter has had a baby and he has not seen her yet.

    Now those are the people who can fleet feelings of being betrayed. Not getting married or disappointed in love is not enough to hate God for even a minute. I read the book a couple months ago and honestly I can’t tell you one thing that was in it besides that she was angry with God and then made peace …although I don’t really think she is being authentic. It is usual for me not to retain a lot of what a book reveals if it makes some revelation in my life. It lacks real adversity and triumph through faith in God.

  6. Katherine says:

    (USA)  To the above contributors… there is a huge difference between being lonely and being alone. There is no evidence that being a Christian and marrying a person who is also, means you are less likely to get a divorce. I noticed on the website that Ms. Schutte worked for Focus on the Family. Didn’t the founder’s son divorce? In fact, I have seen more divorce in my friends who attend church regularly than those who don’t. And more often than not, one of the spouses was cheating with someone at the church. I’ve had three pastors that had affairs with someone in their congregation.

    We come into this world alone and we leave alone. Marriage will not make you happy once the newness of the relationship wears thin and you are juggling kids and bills. Anyone with any maturity should know this. Life is not a fairy tale. Personally, a relationship with God helps me. But some people are born with depression and other mental illnesses that make it hard for them to have inner peace and not be feel lonely.

  7. Jake says:

    (USA)  I am youth (older) Christian Director at large church. This book has help some of my goup understand that a broken heart is serious and life altering. But that God will help. Have faith. Good scripture, good stories… good book. I am referring to Betrayed By God?

  8. Lucretia says:

    (USA)  After reading some of the above comments, I think that some of you have missed something about Ms. Schutte’s lack of education. After all, where does the Bible say that a Christian education is necessary to testify about God? The Holy Spirit is our teacher. If this were necessary, many throughout history would not have been used. God looks at the heart.

    In fact, when reflecting on Acts 4, Luke writes, “When [the crowds] saw the courage of Peter and John and realized they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”

    Also in 1 Cor. 1:27, Scripture says, “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of the world and the despised things-and the things that are not–to nullify the things that are, so that no man can boast before him.”

    So, praise God that she is not qualified according to the world’s standards so that if anyone is blessed by her message, that it’s God who gets the glory. No one has the right to say that she cannot speak. If God has called her, she has all the permission she needs.

    • Layna says:

      (CANADA) I so agree with Lucretia’s comments… this is what I see in Ms. Schutte’s personal story. When we are born again, the Holy Spirit comes in to our hearts and He said He would be our Prime Teacher. I have not gone to Seminary, had any formal training, nor have I, regularly attended, a Mainstream Church, in years. God brought me out of them, becuz of all the false doctrine, that is being taught in them in these end days. He began to teach, by His Spirit, Himself, and has led me on a walk, off the beaten track. He led me to a great Christian website, where I have fellowship online.

      I am 58 and have never been married… though, I had a son, out of wedlock, in my late teens, during the counterculture ‘revolution,’ raised him myself and, at 15, he left home and I haven’t seen much of him since. Much of that time with him, was spent in church.

      I have prayed and agonized, with God, about my need for a mate – a husband. Many times, I feel like Sarah, in the Bible, when the angel told her that she would have a child, even though she was 90. She tried to hide her laughter, but the angel said, ‘I saw you; you laughed.’ That cynicism creeps in, when what you need is faith. I have battled bitterness, and have come through it, and up til, two years ago, was getting on with my life. Four years ago, I felt led to start a website, at home on my computer, as I am at home on a disability pension, due to a long-protacted, genetic illness. I found a Yahoo site that I didn’t have to pay monthly dues for, and began a breaking news, survival links, etc., Christian-based site.

      As I said previously, up until two years ago, there had been no men in my life… I have been celibate for about 20 years, and the only reason for that, is that I ‘fell into’ illicit relationships with men, previous to that, becuz, I just could not stay away from it. Otherwise, I would have been celibate for most of my life.

      However, two years ago, 2009, a man came to my site, asking to join in free membership, and said that he had seen my name, and the link to my site, on a newspaper forum. We began to exchange emails, back and forth, which I do not do with my membership, as a rule… as the site is not geared to that, like a forum or blog. He told me he was a raised a Strict Catholic, and, at first, said his wife, had died. He told me he’d had a series of dreams, in the Fall of 2008, the kind he’d never had before, about a woman with a white shawl on, walking fast ahead of him, and every once in a while, she would turn her head back, and look at him, as if she had something to say. He was running after her at full sprint, but could not catch up to her. He, then, saw in the dream, the name of the woman… which was my name. Each time, the dream was the same, and my name was in the dream. When he went to the newspaper forum, he scrolled down, in a comment section, and found my name, which is uncommon, and the link to my site.

      I told him that I was a Christian, of course. And, for a couple of weeks, we became very close and he began to send me love sonnets and told he was falling deeply for me. Then, after a few weeks went by, he confessed to me, becuz, he could not handle the guilt, that he was married, but, in a loveless, abusive 20 year marriage, with a woman, who, for ten years, had neglected her marital duties, not even kissing. Apparently, she also drank heavily, and was verbally, abusive to him. She is not a Christian.

      I told him that he would have to either work things out with her, or get a divorce. He said he was stuck, because of being Catholic. But, I told him, no one is stuck, and looked on the internet, for a Godly way out for him. I found an article on this issue, and sent it to him, which gave him the way out, that he was looking for.

      Within a couple of weeks, he filed for divorce. For 8 weeks, minimal contact between us, was ordered by the lawyer. Then, he reconnected with me online and told me he had just heard that it was a ‘done deal’. That he would have the decree, in 3 months, that he would pay her a lump sum and get to keep his home. We continued to email back and forth.

      In August of that year, a week after our last communication, I got a call from her, on my cell. I was stunned. Somehow she had gotten hold of his cell and found my number. She identified herself and asked if I knew her husband. I had a split second to decide what to say… most people would have hung up on her, or said she had the wrong no. I decided to meet it head on… tell the truth. I said, Yes, I do know him, he is a member of my breaking news website.

      She said, what kind of site? I reiterated the same words. She asked a third time and I did the same. Then, she hung up. God spared me from having to say more. I could not hang up on her… (do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.) I could not lie… it is a sin. So, I went for truth and diversion. I thought this would protect him and please the Lord, at the same time. I, then, texted and emailed him, but, did not hear back from him.

      So, I waited through September, October and on November 2nd, my Dad, in another Province, here in Canada, went into hospital suddenly, and it didn’t look good. Since my manfriend had lost his Dad, some years before, and loved him dearly, I thot this would be the time to reach out to him, to let him know about my Dad and try to find out why I had not heard from him. (Remember – the decree for the divorce was 3 months forward, which was October). I sent one email.

      The next evening, the 3rd of November, my Dad’s wife called and said he had just passed away from a brain hemorrhage. The next day, I emailed my manfriend again, twice. On the morning of the 5th, at 5 a.m., I was awakened by a beep on my cell… it was a text message from him… it said, ‘No Divorce. Reconciled. Sorry about your father.’ I texted him once and emailed him a couple of times, that day. I heard nothing.

      I have not contacted him, directly, since November 5th 09. He has continued to be a member of my website, since that time, but, has never emailed me, or phoned, or texted me. He has had me in his Yahoo Msgr. Since then, as well, as I could see an ‘available’ light go on, just recently, which told me, that he had not deleted me from his messenger. I had kept a special photo journal for him, on my site, when we were together online, and I decided to continue it, from Dec.09, til the present; like a diary, keeping him abreast of what is going on in my life, and letting him know, that I still care for him.
      (If I contacted him, that would not be right – I would be stepping over a boundary line, but, if he came to the photo folder, he would then be, in my Domain, becuz, he wanted to be there – (all’s fair in love & war).

      If his wife had not called that day in August, his intention was to come to me, I presume to marry me, on American Thanksgiving, once the decree had been issued and she had moved out. We had never met, face to face, but, fell deeply in love. This was the first man in my life that I had found love with, it was a two-way street, (reciprocated). He once said to me, Don’t ever leave me.

      So, I wait, and pray, and I continue with my daily website. I did not intend to write this, when answering the post, but, it all just came gushing out. Maybe, it will help someone else too. Please feel free to respond to this.

      Lucretia is doing the right thing… she is honouring God and we should support her in prayer. Also praying, that God would turn this man into a man who loves and responds to his wife’s loneliness and need for him. Blessings, Layna, Canada.

    • Lynette says:

      (USA)  I am grateful for your response. I whole heartedly agree with you. As I read the above responses I felt as though I was hearing judgements about her lack of qualification that were not necessary. It seemed to me like needless nit picking. This made me sad. I don’t believe that God has called us to be judge in this way. I see fruit in this woman and God has used this article to encourage me tonight. Her love for God, His children, and His call seem evident to me. God’s word is sufficient enough and that’s all we need. 2 timothy 3:16-17

  9. Vanishing Woman says:

    (USA)  I just know this much about the article. I typed in married but lonely looking for something, probably something I would regret later and the first thing I found was this. I don’t think it was by chance… I believe the Lord is/was trying to protect me and my marriage. I have a good man, but he is absent in our marriage and as time goes by I am falling more and more out of love with him.

    I don’t know the answer, but looking for something that turns into cheating is not what God intended. I believe I must wait on the Lord to move in our lives. I hold on for our kids. They even are praying for him. Nothing we do or say will work. It is completely up to my Lord. If I did not click this link, I may have went down the wrong path. Thank you Author.

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