We are often groomed to do whatever it takes to protect ourselves because “no one else will.” Being independent and self-sufficient is certainly not a bad thing in and of itself, but it can lead to a lonely existence when we pursue it above all else (and many times we do). In a world where half of marriages end in divorce, we are taught to have one foot in the door and one foot out the door, just to be ready in case our marriage fails. Some individuals even have prenups, secret bank accounts, or money stashes in preparation for the day they may decide to divorce their spouse. What is the common denominator in all of these things? It is the belief that we don’t need each other…that we can and should live our lives as if we were never married. This is a big lie that sends husbands and wives into a lonely marital existence for years, and some even decide to call it quits.
So, what does a lonely marriage look like? It is two married people living very disconnected lives. Each spouse is highly engaged in his or her work during the day and doesn’t choose to involve his or her spouse in the workplace functions. There are no sweet texts or phone calls to connect with each other during the day. When they get home at night, both spouses are hyper-focused on finishing up their work, getting with their friends, and/or tending to the kids and all of their needs.
All conversation seems to center around what has been done or what needs to be done to take care of the kids, home, and finances. Both the husband and wife are much more concerned with setting up “Girls Night Out” or “Night Out with the Guys” than a date night. They rarely have sex, and when they do, there is a lack of connection. They both seem to be civil with each other, especially in public places, but there is frustration in the undercurrent of all of their communication.
They both feel stifled by the other and even resent most of what their spouse does. The husband and wife try to find reasons to not spend time together because the time they spend together is the loneliest and most exhausting part of their day. Both have completely lost sight of what brought them together in the first place. Somewhere along the way they lost their togetherness in an effort to pursue their independence. After all, they have each been doing their “own thing” and handling it all just fine, so they don’t really need each other, do they? Of course, they do! If this scenario describes your marriage, please know that it doesn’t have to be this way. You can have the close, intimate marriage that you so desire. Here are some steps you can take to turn things around:
1. You need to engage in meaningful conversation with your spouse every day.
If you find that you are in a lonely marriage, there has been a breakdown of communication somewhere along the way. You need to start communicating again. These conversations involve more than, “Kids have soccer on Friday” or “Office party is on Saturday night” or “What’s for dinner?” Laugh together and talk about your hopes, fears, and dreams. You both need to reconnect, and conversation is the bridge that will get you there. I also encourage you to start praying together every night. Your first prayer may be just asking God to help you get out of this lonely time in your marriage, but then you can add to your prayer list together. Remember: your individual and collective soul health is imperative to cultivating a healthy, lasting, and fulfilling marriage.
2. We must remove anything that is perpetrating the loneliness in our marriage.
Are you spending more time with your friends than your spouse? If so, you need to spend less time with those friends and more time with your spouse. Invest in your friendship with your spouse! Are you staying at work too late? If so, you need to rearrange your work schedule so you can spend more time at home. Start connecting with your spouse throughout the day. This can be as simple as a sweet or flirtatious text that says, “I love you and hope you are having a great day” or a quick phone call to check in. This lets your partner know that you care. You will also feel cared for when your spouse makes you a high priority and not an afterthought.
3. Be sure that your tone, body language, words, and actions towards your spouse are loving, respectful, and inclusive.
Sometimes, you can make your spouse feel all alone just by the negative tone of your voice and careless body language, and you may not even realize that you are doing it. Be sure to pay close attention to how you respond to one another. Do you smile when your spouse walks in the room, or do you greet him or her? Do you speak kindly to your spouse, whether in person or around others? Do you take time each day to do something kind and thoughtful for your spouse? If you can answer “yes” to all of these, then you are on the right track. If not, there is room for improvement, and you can take those steps toward improvement today. Don’t wait! Show your spouse how much you care. Lean in and engage with them. Don’t settle for a lonely marriage. Over time, you will see what a difference these steps will make, and you both will cultivate a thriving marriage.
4. You both must understand and admit that you need each other.
Some of you may think that needing your spouse shows weakness, makes you “needy,” or gives them too much power over your life. But the honest truth is a marriage will quickly become a lonely place unless both spouses are willing to lean on each other and care for one another as God intended. You are not giving up your individuality; you are trading your completely independent lives for a supportive, interdependent union with your spouse. Please understand that I am not encouraging or promoting an unhealthy co-dependent marriage in which spouses emotionally abuse each other and neediness runs rampant. A healthy, balanced marriage is like a beautiful ballroom dance where the husband and wife are completely intertwined and in tune to one another, with God leading them in their journey together. He gave us such a gift when He gave us our spouse. He never meant for us to live in a lonely marriage—or a lonely existence, period—so let’s embrace and cherish the beautiful gift of our marriage. Let your love and faith in the Lord defeat the loneliness.
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22)
This was an excerpt from Dave & Ashley’s book Naked and Healthy.