I am in general happily married yet sometimes I find myself feeling lonely even though I am not alone. What should I do?
You are living under the same roof, you don’t wake up alone, so how can you be lonely? The pace of life can cause you and your spouse to be like ships in the night even when you are physically together. Loneliness can impact how you see other people, you will devalue the relationships in your life rather than nurture them. Our instinct, in order to protect ourselves from emotional hurt, means we can become overly defensive and end up detaching ourselves from the very person that we should be working on being close to.
Being married doesn’t mean you will never be lonely; it is something that can happen slowly over time. Have you found that your conversations are more about issues rather than feelings – like “who is collecting the kids?”
These kinds of routines, without us realising it, can create an emotional distance. Like so many issues in a marriage the starting point has to be communication, your spouse may well be feeling lonely just like you are. You have made an important step by recognising it as an issue, now the next step is to make sure you get back on track before things get worse.
A good place to begin is to try and improve the day-to-day interactions of your relationship: make sure you ask (and mean it) how the other person’s day was, and thank your spouse for something at least once a day. I would advise you to take the Love Languages test, which can be done online, and using this insight trying your best to meet one another’s needs.
Sometimes much of our emotional disconnect is not caused by any malice, we simply often try to meet our spouses’ needs in the way that we would like our own needs met, but you may speak different love languages.
Once you know, for example, that affirmation is important to your spouse, and your spouse understands that it is all the little acts of service that matter to you, then you know the areas you can focus and work on. You have fallen into an autopilot routine, it’s time to together take the wheel again.
Another area to work on is making sure you have time to truly connect and have quality time together, every day. How much time are you spending together where you are not talking about the kids or running the household?
You need to set aside quality time every day, even if it is just a walk around the block where you just talk to each other. Do you really need to be on your phone while your spouse is distracted on Netflix for an hour every night? One of the primary causes, I imagine is a busy schedule, you have to make quality time with your spouse a priority, without it the gap between you emotionally and physically will only continue to widen.
Getting even a small amount of time each day to be present with each other is important, but equally important is a date night once a week, away from the house and the kids, just like you did in the early days.