“I am so depressed and lonely in my marriage” – while it is sad, it is not uncommon for a person or both partners to feel unhappy and lonely in a relationship or marriage. In fact, feeling sad and lonely in a relationship is so common that it is considered normal. But before we address your “I am so depressed in my marriage” issue and talk about what can be done to overcome the feeling, let’s understand what it means to feel lonely in a marriage.
Feeling sad and lonely in a relationship does not mean that you don’t love your partner. It means that you no longer feel emotionally connected or close to your partner. You’re talking but no longer communicating your needs, concerns, or fears. You’re probably not fighting or yelling at each other either because you have figured that there is no point in doing so or maybe it’s just easier and more convenient to not bother yourselves about anything.
To understand the reasons why a person feels lonely and depressed in their marriage and figure out ways to deal with or overcome such a situation, we spoke to psychologist Pragati Sureka (MA in Clinical Psychology, professional credits from Harvard Medical School), who specializes in addressing issues like anger management, parenting issues, abusive and loveless marriage through emotional ability resources.
What Causes One To Feel Depressed And Lonely In A Marriage?
Have you ever heard of the lonely wife syndrome? It happens when a wife’s needs, concerns, and desires are completely ignored by her husband. When a wife yearns for intimacy and connection but her husband chooses to not respond or ignores her, she expresses her concerns to him. But, if he continues to show disregard for her needs or dismisses them as mere complaints and becomes distant from her, the wife may give up because there’s no scope for the situation to change. This may lead her to choose divorce or walk away from her marriage.
If you feel lonely in a marriage, it’s probably because there is a lack of emotional intimacy and a disregard for or a certain ignorance of your needs. Emotional support is crucial to maintaining a marriage, the lack of which could spell doom for the partnership or, in this case, leave you feeling sad and lonely. There could be other reasons also, ranging from responsibilities to unrealistic expectations and lack of vulnerability. Let’s explore 6 such causes:
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1. Loss of emotional and physical intimacy
Lack of intimacy is one of the primary reasons behind your “I am so depressed and lonely in my marriage” quandary. Even in the most healthy relationships, there are times when partners drift apart or start to feel like strangers to each other. A certain distance (could be due to communication or financial issues, lack of sex, daily arguments, etc.) creeps in between them leading to loss of emotional and physical intimacy further resulting in loneliness.
Pragati explains, “At times, boredom or lack of emotional intimacy is the reason behind people feeling sad and lonely in a relationship. They haven’t explored intimacy or are not comfortable sharing things about themselves. If partners don’t talk to each other enough, it’s a sign of lack of interest making them feel isolated and disappointed. Lack of sex or physical intimacy also leads to loneliness.”
2. Social media comparisons
In today’s times, everyone is so glued to social media. People are constantly sharing updates about their personal lives – from meals and date nights to vacations and everything in between. Everything is on social media. This has led to constant comparison between their lives and that of those on the ‘gram.
People have fallen into a comparison trap. They’ve begun to compare their relationships to those on their social media, thereby, creating a distance between them and their significant other. This distance leads to feelings of loneliness. The more time they spend on social media, the more reason they have to make unrealistic comparisons and, therefore, increased feelings of depression and loneliness.
Pragati says, “One of the most common reasons people start feeling sad and lonely in a relationship is social media comparisons. I had a client who got into a committed relationship with someone. She told me that whenever she looked at social media, she felt jealous. She felt that something was lacking in her relationship. When people start comparing or expecting their marriage to be like those that they see on social media, a sense of loneliness sets in.”
3. Parental and work responsibilities are getting in the way
Sometimes, couples become so busy with their professional lives or get drowned in fulfilling parental and family duties that they forget their responsibilities toward each other. They forget that they are a couple and that they shouldn’t be neglecting their relationship. Children and career are important but they should realize that spending time with each other and investing in their marriage is equally important, if not more.
Pragati elaborates, “Work and family responsibilities is another reason why people feel lonely and depressed in their marriage. Their commitments become so overwhelming that they don’t have time for their spouse. Managing a career, running a home, raising children – all of these responsibilities require a lot of multi-tasking (especially for women) and take up so much of time and energy that, by the end of it, they don’t have any left to give to their partner. This makes their spouse feel unwanted, isolated, misunderstood, and lonely.”
Always being the caregiver and not receiving any affection in return can be emotionally draining and exhausting. Family and work pressures are major reasons behind you and your wife or husband feeling lonely in the marriage. Busy schedules, caring for the kids, juggling other family responsibilities leaves you with rarely any time together. You tend to drift apart and eventually go into the “I am so depressed and lonely in my marriage” zone.
4. Dependent on each other for feeling happy and complete
Still asking yourself “why am I so depressed in my marriage” or “what’s the reason behind me feeling sad and lonely in a relationship”? It’s probably because you’re dependent on your partner for your happiness. You don’t feel happy and whole on your own maybe because there is a lack of self-love, which is why you depend on your spouse to make you feel complete. It’s a sign that you’re probably going through issues of your own that require immediate attention.
Pragati explains, “Sometimes, people feel lonely in a marriage because they expect someone outside of them to make them feel complete. The root cause of it is low self-esteem. They feel like they aren’t good enough, therefore, they need validation from someone else to feel good about themselves. Partners need to understand how they feel about themselves as a person, not as someone’s spouse. There could be a lot of unhealed hurt from childhood that made them feel like they aren’t good enough. Partners feel lonely because somewhere their relationship with themselves is not as healthy as it should be. If your cup of self-love is rather full, you wouldn’t look for it from someone else.”
5. Unrealistic expectations
According to Pragati, “If you feel lonely in a marriage, know that unrealistic expectations are a major cause of it.” Unrealistic expectations from your significant other are a major reason behind partners feeling sad and lonely in a relationship. Expecting your spouse to make you happy, always agreeing to what you say, never changing, meeting needs that can’t be reasonably met, or spending all of their time with you, is asking for too much. You can’t expect your partner’s life to revolve around you. If you expect your partner to fulfill or validate you, you might just end up going through the “I am so depressed in my marriage” feeling.
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6. Lack of vulnerability
Pragati says, “Another major reason is lack of vulnerability. If people do not share their deepest feelings with their spouse due to fear that the latter won’t understand, then it can wreak havoc on a marriage.” If you refuse to be vulnerable in front of your partner or are unable to show them your weak side, you might end up feeling isolated in the marriage because you probably don’t have anyone to share your feelings with.
You and your partner share a life together. Your spouse is probably the person you are closest to. If you’re not able to share intimate details about your life with them, if you find it difficult to express your emotions or talk about your fears and dreams with your partner, then it becomes incredibly hard to understand and be understood. This eventually leads to loneliness.
Feeling sad and lonely in a relationship or marriage can take a toll on your physical and mental wellbeing. It can affect your eating habits, sleeping patterns, encourage alcohol and substance abuse, and also lead to stress and self-destructive thoughts. Loneliness is known to cause anxiety, depression, cognitive impairment, and memory lapses. It also increases your risk of getting a stroke or contracting a cardiovascular disease.
We don’t mean to scare you. All we are saying is don’t ignore your feelings of loneliness. If you see your wife or husband feeling lonely in the marriage, make an effort to talk to them and pay heed to their concerns. Loneliness can impact your emotional and psychological wellbeing, which is why you have to figure out ways to deal with it. Allow us to help you. Read on to know what you can do to heal yourself if you feel lonely in a marriage.
What Can You Do If You Feel Depressed And Lonely In Your Marriage?
If you feel lonely in a marriage, know that you aren’t alone. Believe it or not, loneliness in a marriage is real and more common than you think. A 2018 survey stated that one in 3 adults above the age of 45 years was lonely in their relationship. Another survey by the Pew Research Center claimed that 28 percent of people dissatisfied with their marriage or family life feel lonely. But worry not. It doesn’t have to be a permanent situation.
It is possible to overcome your “I am so depressed and lonely in my marriage” state if you’re willing to put in a little bit of work. You can get back to being emotionally close to your partner, finding the lost intimacy, sharing the daily absurdities of life and laughing at them together, being vulnerable in front of each other, and just bonding over what both of you find joy in.
Rebuilding a relationship or marriage requires effort and a whole lot of patience. But it’s important that you take the first step. Take it one day at a time because marriage is not a walk in the park. Loneliness can also stem from lack of effort or individuality, which is why you’ll have to work on yourself as well as with your partner like one unit. Here are 5 ways to deal with feeling sad and lonely in a relationship:
1. Talk to your partner about it
Communication is key to building a healthy relationship. Talking to your partner helps resolve conflict and understand each other better. It brings a couple closer to each other. If the answer to your lonely wife syndrome or “husband feeling lonely in the marriage” dilemma stems from relationship or lack of communication issues, it’s high time you have an honest conversation with your spouse. Mind you, an honest conversation where you share your feelings and thoughts about the relationship. No blame game or accusatory statements.
According to Pragati, “Start communicating with your partner. Set aside half an hour for yourselves where you’re not distracted by technology or conversations about the kids. Converse like two adults who want to reconnect with each other and build a certain emotional intimacy. Avoid playing the blame game. Don’t make accusatory statements like “you never do this”. Instead, say something like, “I’ve been feeling very lonely lately and would like to talk to you about it. Would you be willing to discuss it?” This way, your spouse doesn’t feel threatened. The idea is to connect, not accuse.”
2. Listen to what your partner has to say
After you’ve shared your feelings with your partner and told them that you’ve been feeling sad and lonely in the relationship, listen to what your spouse has to say on the matter. You never know, they might be feeling the same too. Also, observe how they react to what you have to say. If both of you want to make things right and work toward building a healthy relationship, then you can talk about figuring out and fixing the problem.
3. Spend more time together
This is one of the most important steps to get over the “I am so depressed and lonely in my marriage” situation. Spending more time together might help in re-establishing or rebuilding the lost physical and emotional intimacy in the marriage. It might pave the way for constructive and meaningful conversation or you could just sit back and reminisce about old times and the love shared, which might just bring you closer together.
Says Pragati, “When partners become distant, they begin to do their own thing. There’s very little that binds them together. Spending some intended, mindful time together is crucial to dealing with loneliness in a marriage. Take time out to connect with each other, enjoy moments together, and have shared experiences.”
Find ways to spend time with each other – go on a romantic date, cook together, take a vacation together, dance, join an activity class, exercise, talk about how you spent the day. Make sure there are no distractions. No phones, TV, social media, or gadgets should come in between the time you and your partner spend together. Focus on spending quality time with each other without letting work and family pressures come in between you.
4. Seek therapy
Pragati recommends therapy if you aren’t able to deal with the “I am so depressed and lonely in my marriage” feeling by yourself. “Getting help from a qualified family therapist or a clinical psychologist is required so that communication barriers or any other underlying challenges that have been left unaddressed are spoken about.” If you are lonely and depressed in your marriage and are looking for help, Bonobology’s panel of experienced and licensed therapists is only a click away.
Sometimes, the involvement of a third party can help you understand yourself better and see things from a different perspective. If you’re suffering from the lonely wife syndrome or having to deal with a wife or husband feeling lonely in the marriage, consider seeking professional help. A therapist or counselor will be able to help you and your partner identify the problem and improve communication between both parties.
They’ll act as a mediator and use different techniques and skills to rebuild intimacy and bring you and your partner closer together. They’ll provide a safe space for you to share your deepest emotions and be vulnerable in front of each other. A professional will help you understand where your loneliness is coming from and then figure out ways to deal with it.
Related Reading: 12 Characteristics Of A Successful Marriage
5. Find your own circle and interests
You are responsible for your own happiness. You need to feel satisfied and complete on your own. You cannot expect your spouse to fill that void. If you feel lonely in your marriage and want to get over that feeling, it is imperative that you do not depend on your partner to make you feel happy and fulfilled in the marriage. If your loneliness doesn’t stem from your relationship, it’s probably got to do with your own sense of self.
Your loneliness could be a sign that you lack self-love and the presence of strong friendships, interests, a sense of community and satisfaction that a person usually needs to feel complete on their own. Practice self-care and learn how to love yourself. Prioritize yourself. Build your own circle, socialize, travel, do things you find joy in, reconnect with friends and family, and develop hobbies and interests outside of your marriage. Work on your career and professional goals. Work toward being content with yourself.
It may be common to feel lonely in a marriage but that doesn’t mean it’s normal. It also doesn’t mean that you have to accept it. Communication is key to improving the situation. Once you’ve expressed your concerns to your partner, see how they react or what they do to make you feel heard, loved, and secure in the marriage. Additionally, understand whether you have the will and determination to work on the marriage.
No marriage is perfect. There will always be ups and downs. Almost every couple goes through phases of loneliness or experiences feelings of a lack of connection or intimacy. But as long as both partners are willing to step up and resolve conflict, are committed to and in love with each other, and make an effort to build a healthier relationship, there’s no hurdle they can’t overcome, including loneliness.
It is common to feel alone in a marriage, for sure. Every relationship goes through phases where either partner experiences bouts of loneliness and lack of emotional connection with their spouse. But that doesn’t mean that it is normal. You shouldn’t have to accept or expect to feel lonely. Talk to your partner, seek help if required to overcome such feelings otherwise it could cause long-term damage to your wellbeing.
Loneliness in a marriage is a common phenomenon. According to the 2018 AARP National Survey, one in three married people above the age of 45 years is lonely. It indicates that there’s some underlying issue in the relationship or with yourself that needs to be addressed. There could probably be an emotional gap in your relationship or you might not be happy with yourself, which is why loneliness has crept into your marriage.
It is possible to feel depressed in a marriage if you don’t get along with your spouse or have compatibility issues. A 2018 study conducted on 152 women claimed that 12% of them felt depressed after their wedding with some dealing with clinical depression. Partners who deal with arguments, fights, and disagreements on a daily basis are more likely to feel depressed in their marriage.