Just because you’re married, it doesn’t mean that you don’t suffer from loneliness. As a matter of fact, that’s one of the problems in too many marriages —they are alone together. Couples are so busy with other aspects of making life work for them that they forget about emotionally connecting and supporting each other. As a result, some of the loneliest people on earth happen to be married. Sad, isn’t it?
If you find yourself in that place in your marriage we’ll be touching on this subject. Part of this message will include segments from, “Alone Together” featured in a past issue of Marriage Partnership Magazine. (It is now posted on the web site for the Today’s Christian Woman ministries.)
One of the things the author Tim Gardner says about this subject is:
“Ask anyone why they got married and, once they get past ‘because we were in love’ (which I’m not knocking), they will talk about marriage as the antidote to loneliness. Even if they didn’t read that in the Bible first, they’re onto something. God proclaimed that it was “not good” for Adam to be alone (Genesis 2:18). And it’s not good for us either.
“Most of us expect marriage to banish loneliness by providing lifelong companionship. But look around and you’ll find large numbers of couples who are married and still lonely. How does the one stated goal of marriage, God’s desire to alleviate a person’s aloneness, fail to come true for so many husbands and wives?
The reason is the “loneliness lie” where spouses believe “that marriage by itself will put an end to loneliness.” It’s a lie because there is no way any one person can (or should) fulfill our every need for companionship. There are different dynamics that go into everyday living. And sometimes our spouse just can’t (or won’t) be there for us as often as we sometimes feel we need. And yet, with the right mindset, matters can improve.
In his article, Tim Gardner, goes on to say:
“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.’
Tim goes on to say:
“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’re committed to loving each other. They’re committed to nurturing and caring for one another, and to treating each other with respect. They solve their own loneliness by working to obliterate their mate’s loneliness. Sounds odd, 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.”
It’s important to be intentional as a married couple to interact on purpose, not just necessity. Otherwise, your connection together can become so surface that it lends itself to feelings of loneliness.
If you’re feeling lonely in your marriage, Tim has some suggestions with some of them being:
“Take stock of what is missing in your relationship.
How would your marriage need to change to restore emotional closeness?
• “Do you long to share relaxed time together like you did when you were dating?
• “Do you wish you could still take walks at night to look at the stars?
• “Has the ‘business’ of keeping your family running smoothly crowded out the tenderness that used to come so naturally?
• “What are the specific patterns that need to change?”
And then he suggests that you:
“Ask yourself an even tougher question: what are you doing (or neglecting) that could make your spouse feel lonely? Just as it takes two to get married, it nearly always takes two to let a marriage drift. So identify your own contributions to the problem.
• “Is your schedule so crowded with outside commitments that you’re seldom home?
• “Have you neglected hobbies or other activities that used to draw you and your mate closer?
• “Have you started taking your spouse for granted? Are you failing to express thanks, neglecting to extend common courtesies?
• “Are you too preoccupied with work, the kids or family finances to listen to your spouse?
“After asking yourself the hard questions, commit to making the personal changes necessary to reverse the emotional drift.”
Through “prayer, reflection and planning” Tim then suggests you “talk to your mate.” But make sure you do this prayerfully in the right timing, attitude, and way. He explains this and more in the article, which you can read by clicking onto, “ALONE, TOGETHER.”
Also, Jeannette and Robert Lauer wrote another article on this subject for those who are married, where they suggest:
“If you’re feeling lonely, ask yourself:
– “What’s going on in my marriage that makes me feel lonely?
– “Is this a short-term situation I can live with or a long-term situation that needs to change?
Answering these questions can save you from falling into several traps.
(1) “Blaming yourself. Both Billie and Diane initially felt guilty about their loneliness. Billie was certain that her painful loneliness meant that she had somehow failed. And Diane felt like an ingrate when she complained about a husband who was faithful, family-oriented, and involved in worthy activities. She thought she needed to change the way she felt. But her feelings weren’t the problem. They were a signal that she needed to change her circumstances.
(2) “Blaming your spouse. Billie blamed Steve for being self-absorbed and cutting her out of his life. Yet she missed the real source of his behavior —depression rooted in a business venture at the edge of failure. In this case blaming didn’t help the situation.
(3) “Thinking your marriage is doomed or at least condemned to mediocrity. Such thinking only deflects you from the task of finding a workable solution.”
The Lauer’s then suggest creating an “Action List” along and give additional suggestions. To read the suggestions and the article in its entirety, please click onto “MARRIED… BUT LONELY.”
Helpful and Painful Message When You’re Alone Together
We know this can be a helpful message for many of you to read. But it can also be a painful message for others of you. You KNOW you’re lonely in your marriage but your spouse doesn’t appear to want to participate with you in changing things. For that, we’re so very sorry to cause you any more hurt. But we have a miracle working God so don’t completely discount all that is said.
Pray —it’s amazing what God can do when we yield our hearts to Him. The Bible says “He is the lifter of our heads.” He knows how to minister to our hearts when everyone else has turned their back on us. Also, pray through what David prayed in Psalm 139:23-24 which says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
And lastly, Don and Sally Meredith from their book, 2 Becoming One give this advice:
“You will find these truths helpful in regarding your spouse’s weaknesses:
• God will meet your aloneness needs in spite of your mate’s weaknesses.
• God’ only agent for changing your mate with promised results is unconditional love. That is also true for any relationship.
• God actually uses your mate’s weaknesses as a tool to perfect your character.”
With all that’s been said though, keep in mind what Sandra Aldrich warned us. We’re supposed to help minister to each other’s aloneness. But also know: “Another human being can’t meet all your needs. The only person who can meet all our needs is the Lord, and He had to die first!”
Our love and prayers are with you as together we work to make our marriages the best they can be!
Cindy and Steve Wright
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