Last Updated on August 9, 2023 by Angela Vaz

Feeling lonely in a marriage damages the relationship and the spouses’ emotional health.

Many people believe that once you get married, you won’t be alone anymore and can happily forget about loneliness.

You may be in a relationship and still suffer from the absence of nurturing interaction with your spouse.

Luckily, you can change that and improve your relationship with your spouse by putting in some effort.

In this article, we’ll discuss 13 reasons you may feel lonely in your marriage and how to save it.

Let’s dive in.

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How does loneliness affect your marriage?

how loneliness affects marriage

First, let’s talk about the detrimental effects of loneliness on a marriage.

Statistically, about 40% to 50% of marriages fall apart in the U.S., and feeling unloved and rejected is not the last cause on the list.

Divorce is one of the worst scenarios that may happen to your marriage. But before a couple decides to split, they experience several adverse effects undermining their relationship, where feeling lonely is just the beginning.

Here’s how your marital problems turn from loneliness to a snowball of various complications, such as:

  • Increased conflict between spouses

Feeling lonely in a marriage can make you and your spouse frustrated and angry because you can’t seem to resolve this problem while other married couples look perfectly happy. Thus, you may argue more often and have difficulties finding solutions.

  • The risk of developing a depression

When you feel lonely in a marriage, it affects your mental and emotional well-being. You may feel down and useless as if your life doesn’t matter. Studies found that loneliness is directly associated with depression, which sometimes may lead to suicidal thoughts.

  • Physical health problems

Feeling lonely in a marriage may also affect your physical health. The least a person can expect are high blood pressure, memory impairment, sleep deprivation, and a weak immune system. More severe consequences include cardiovascular conditions and strokes.

  • Difficulties in raising children

When spouses are emotionally disconnected from each other, they can’t effectively work as a team to raise their children. They also struggle to coordinate child-related decisions and take care of their needs.

  • Seeking extramarital liaisons

When a person feels lonely and underestimated in a marriage, they may seek understanding and validation from friends, colleagues, etc. In many cases, it leads to affairs and can break the relationship. According to surveys, about 26% of men and 19% of women cheat.

Why you feel lonely in a marriage and how to save it?

Even spouses in happy marriages may feel lonely a few years after the wedding.

The reasons are multiple, but understanding what’s really happening is vital. If you know the root of the problem, you can develop a strategy to fix it.

So, it’s time to discuss the common reasons you may experience loneliness in your marriage and what to do about it.

1. Emotional Unavailability

emotional unavailability

If your spouse never tells anything significant about themselves, and it seems like you don’t know them at all, you may be dealing with an emotionally unavailable person.

A typical example of such a situation in a marriage is when one partner never shares their deep thoughts, aspirations, hopes, and emotions.

One possible reason for this is that they were raised this way. Another explanation is that they learned the hard way to hide their emotions because they got hurt somewhere down the road after opening up.

What can you do?

Teach your spouse to share their emotions and thoughts, and tell them exactly what you expect to hear.

Find time during the day to ask them about their feelings and thoughts regarding certain subjects (their work, politics, gym sessions) and let them share more details. And remember, opening up takes time and practice.

2. Busy Working Schedules

busy working schedules

Working overtime is quite widespread in the U.S. Studies find that about 95% of people feel pressured to overwork by external factors, such as company expectations or striving for career success.

Working overtime may definitely cause a feeling of disconnection between the spouses.

On top of the increased stress of heavy workload and lack of rest, you become less able to offer emotional support to your spouse and connect on a deeper level.

What can you do?

While you can’t quit just to spend more time with your spouse, you can correct your crazy working schedule. If you have an important goal to reach, do it.

But after that, make time for your spouse and family. In the meantime, use the available breaks from work, like having lunch or going to the gym together.

3. Lack of Physical Intimacy

lack of physical intimacy

Physical intimacy is not just about physical pleasure. It’s also responsible for creating bonds between spouses.

Touching, holding hands, and having sex are essential for maintaining a healthy emotional connection.

If, for some reason, spouses stop expressing their affection in this way, they may soon start feeling lonely in their marriage.

What can you do?

As always, the first step is uncovering the underlying reason for not having enough physical intimacy. If we’re talking about sex, some health issues or too much stress may interfere with your spouse’s sex drive.

As for other types of contact, start increasing the number of touches, cuddling, kisses, etc. For example, cuddle with your spouse while watching a movie or kiss them when you meet in the morning or after work.

Apart from fighting off loneliness, physical intimacy helps lower stress levels by decreasing cortisol release in your body.

So touching, hugs, and kisses also help you improve your mood and feel more energetic.

4. Unresolved Past Conflicts

unresolved past conflicts

Another reason the spouses may distance from each other is some ongoing or unresolved conflict.

They stop communicating as before the conflict and, thus, can’t ask their spouse for support in difficult situations.

All of these can make them feel lonely and disconnected from each other emotionally.

What can you do?

If your spouse hurt you in the past, try to forgive them and let go of the situation.

Do it for yourself and the emotional climate in your marriage.

Talking openly about the conflict is also going to help. Pinpoint the problem and calmly suggest ways to resolve it.

Don’t use the same arguments from past conversations since they obviously didn’t work back then and won’t work now.

Instead, switch to a fresh perspective and try to compromise.

5. Not Knowing Your Needs in Marriage

not knowing your needs in a marriage

When you don’t realize your emotional needs in a relationship, you can feel dissatisfied if those needs stay unmet.

Your spouse might even see something is wrong but can’t do anything since you don’t verbalize what you expect from them.

What can you do?

Most likely, your spouse has no idea you have a problem with them. First, tell them you feel lonely and verbalize your emotional needs.

Then, suggest working on improving communication together. And don’t expect immediate results.

Overcoming impaired communication is like fighting a bad habit, so you must prepare for a long recovery process.

6. Criticism and Blaming

criticism and blaming

When one spouse overly criticizes the other, the “victim” may feel undervalued and, thus, isolate themselves emotionally and sometimes physically.

If your spouse blames you for everything that goes wrong, you’ll probably stop desiring to connect with them after some time.

And if you play the blaming game, your partner will start avoiding interacting with you by coming home late or spending weekends, holidays, etc., apart.

What can you do?

Stop the criticism and blame game.

No one is immune to negative comments and won’t take them for too long. Plus, criticism won’t solve any of your problems.

So to fix the communication, try to channel it in a more positive direction, pay less attention to insignificant things, and concentrate on good things that unite you.

7. Financial Pressures

financial pressures

If one spouse believes in their sole responsibility for the financial situation in the family, they will be under significant pressure if something goes wrong. In this case, they might start working longer hours or change jobs, leaving less time for quality moments together.

Plus, financial problems may add tension to communication and cause extra conflicts.

What can you do?

Support during these challenging times is critical to combat loneliness. Make sure you both understand that you’re in it together.

At the same time, focus on handling your financial issues. You can try to find a solution together or ask a financial expert to help.

8. Lack of Quality Time Together

lack of quality time together

These days, when the pace of life has sped up like crazy, we often struggle to find time for our loved ones.

However, it’s an essential part of a nurturing relationship. Giving up too early on spending quality time in marriage sooner or later makes both spouses feel lonely.

What can you do?

It’s elementary – make time for each other. Schedule it like other appointments, e.g., work or grocery shopping.

In particular, list down all your responsibilities in a day.

Are all of them urgent?

Surely, you can sacrifice a yoga class or ask your parents to babysit occasionally to spend time with your spouse.

9. Fear of Being Vulnerable

fear of being vulnerable

When one spouse is afraid to open up and be honest about their innermost thoughts and feelings, they keep their emotions hidden from others.

As a result, they quickly become distant and disconnected from their partner, making both spouses feel lonely.

What can you do?

Take gradual steps by sharing small amounts of feelings with your partner and ask them to do the same.

As you feel more at ease, you can slowly share deeper emotions and thoughts.

Remind yourself and your spouse that being open with each other can help you form stronger bonds and restore the emotional connection you once had.

10. Unrealistic Expectations

unrealistic expectations

There are countless reasons for having unrealistic expectations in a marriage.

These false beliefs usually form under the influence of social media, examples from your friends and family, or distorted perceptions of the ideal marriage.

In any case, not getting what you think you deserve may frustrate and disappoint you.

Consequently, it will create a barrier to a deep emotional connection with your spouse and make you feel abandoned and lonely.

What can you do?

Getting into conflict caused by unmet unrealistic expectations is actually a good thing.

Learning your fundamental differences and growing as a couple can be your chance.

Once you accept your partner as they are, you’ll begin to support each other more effectively and stop feeling lonely.

11. Emotional Affair

emotional affair

Another reason for loneliness in a marriage may be an emotional affair.

For instance, your spouse has someone they share their emotions and thoughts with and has no energy left for you.

The signs of an emotional affair are increased time spent with friends and on social media, secrecy about their phones, and aggressive defensiveness when asked about their activities.

What can you do?

Dealing with ongoing emotional cheating or its aftermath is only possible if both partners are willing to repair their marriage.

You may start by engaging in open communication one-on-one or consult a family relationship expert. R

ebuilding trust might take a while, but after you navigate the consequences of the affair, you’ll get rid of loneliness and start your marriage from a clean slate.

12. Lack of Shared Interests

lack of shared interests

When spouses don’t share hobbies, interests, or views on the same things, they may become emotionally disconnected.

For example, if your partner is passionate about some activity or sport, and you’re completely disinterested in it, your partner feels a lack of support on your part.

In time, they will only discuss trivial things with you, like gas prices and whose turn it is to take the kids to school.

What can you do?

Try to show interest and support for what your partner likes and find new things to do together. Discover more activities you both enjoy and spend some time each week doing them. Shared hobbies, e.g., traveling, exploiting exotic cuisine, or hiking, can make you feel closer to each other and reduce loneliness in your marriage.

13. Social Media Distractions

If you or your spouse spend many hours of your free time on Facebook and Instagram, it’s no wonder you feel lonely in your marriage.

According to statistical data, the average daily social media usage in 2023 is 151 minutes.

That’s 2.5 hours that you could spend building meaningful connections with your spouse instead of pointless scrolling!

What can you do?

Reduce your consumption of social media content to 30 minutes a day.

You can download specific apps that track how much time you spend on your phone and remind you to turn it off.

Another good practice is to give up Instagram, Facebook, and the like for a certain period, e.g., for a week or a month.

Use this free time to connect with your spouse. Have a date night or stay home and cuddle in front of a TV.

Plan your next vacation or gossip about neighbors.

By having meaningful talks and activities instead of wasting time online, you can strengthen your emotional connection with your spouse and build a more fulfilled marriage.

Final Thoughts

Feeling lonely in a marriage may stem from different sources: emotional unavailability, unmet expectations, busy working schedules, etc.

But no matter the cause, there is hope for improving your relationship.

The primary steps are to identify the problem and dig out its roots. After that, you can find an effective solution to eliminate the issue or change your approach.

As long as you and your spouse are willing to put in the effort, you can succeed in revitalizing your relationship and become happy and loved again.

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Natalie Maximets is a certified life transformation coach who specializes in mental wellness, self-care, and self-understanding, with emphasis on dating & marriage, family building, divorce & post-divorce emotional recovery. Natalie started her career after graduating from Transformation Academy in Florida, where she received expertise in mindfulness and sustainability.

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