I'm Married And Lonely, What Do I Do?

Medically reviewed by Dr. April Brewer, DBH, LPC
Updated April 24, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Feeling lonely in a marriage can be confusing and frightening, and it can put the relationship at risk. Maybe you've been together for ages, and you and your spouse have experienced so much together—the birthday parties, the vacations, the anniversary trips. But then you woke up one morning and realized you feel lonely in your marriage. What used to be "we" and "us" has become "you" and "me." What used to be a strong bond has started to crack under the pressure of loneliness and the fears that come with it. 

Experiencing loneliness in a marriage could be a subtle change over the years, or it could be a sudden shift even after a short time together. Whatever the case, it can feel frustrating that what was once "I do" has shifted to "What do I do?" If this is something you're feeling, read on for a few tips on how to move forward.

A woman with long blonde hair and a beige sweater holds her hands to her head with an upset expression as her husband, who is out of focus, sits on the other side of the couch looking at her.
Getty/Vadym Pastukh
Are you experiencing loneliness in your marriage?

What you can do

If you're in a lonely marriage and you want a change for the better, you're not alone. 

Even in the very best of relationships, there can be times when one or both partners drift apart and feel somewhat distant from one another.

You're still two separate people with unique needs, dreams, and aspirations. So, what are some steps you and your partner can take to grow closer together?

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  1. Reflect on yourself and the situation

There are two separate people in a marriage—you and your spouse—and if you're feeling lonely in your marriage, you may consider starting by looking at yourself and your own behavior. If you think your spouse is distanced and emotionally unavailable, check in with yourself first. Have you, perhaps, pulled away from them? Has work been overwhelming? Have you put in a lot of overtime? Have you had difficulty sleeping? Are there unresolved issues from your past that could play a part? There may even be mental health challenges that need to be addressed. 

Dig into your emotions as well, and consider your partner's behavior: why exactly are you feeling lonely? Perhaps you wish you had deeper conversations, feel physically disconnected, or don't think you spend enough time together, for example. Try to be honest with yourself and your emotions so that you have a clearer sense of what might be going on. 

  1. Communicate with your partner

Once you've done some reflection to better understand the situation and what you're feeling, it may be time to bring your thoughts to your partner. Try to communicate openly and honestly, saying what you're feeling and why. Try to be loving, gentle, caring, and honest with your spouse about your feelings, concerns, and desires. Refrain from being judgmental and accusatory. They may not realize that you're feeling lonely, or perhaps they are feeling lonely, too. You can tell your perspective with them, and then you can ask them to say their thoughts as well. Truly listen to your partner by using active listening techniques. 

  1. Start with small steps

After you and your partner have discussed your individual thoughts and concerns, you can start taking action to address them. It's okay to start slowly or small at first. If you have expressed that you feel physically disconnected from them, you could start by holding hands while watching TV or resting your head on their shoulder for a moment at night. If they have expressed that they feel unappreciated, you can thank them for the little things they do each day or tell them more often how proud you are of their hard work and accomplishments. If you both are feeling emotionally disconnected, you could ask them to go for a short walk in the evenings to talk about your days. 

Are you experiencing loneliness in your marriage?

  1. Spend time together

Spending more quality time together can be an effective tool for addressing a wide range of reasons for feeling lonely in a relationship. The way that you two spend time together may vary based on your specific concerns and interests. For instance, if you are feeling lonely because you are both working more than usual lately, leaving you both little time to connect, perhaps you can find ways to spend more intentional time together on the weekends. You could decide to have weekly dates every Sunday, where you go to your favorite restaurant, see a movie, or go on a hike together. Or, if you are feeling emotionally disconnected, perhaps you both make a rule to put away phones and devices for dinner each night to focus on having real conversations with each other. 

  1. Sustain the positive changes 

As you take these steps to strengthen your relationship, consider how you and your partner will maintain the positive changes you've created. Maintaining a strong and healthy relationship often takes continued effort, so try to determine how you and your partner will sustain this closeness moving forward and ward off that feeling of loneliness that you once had. Relish the progress you and your spouse have made together, and then continue to work toward ensuring your marriage is loving, strong, and healthy. Keep a close eye on subtle regressions and seek out a mental health professional if necessary to continue to forge a stronger and more confident relationship. 

A deeper connection through therapy

Creating and maintaining a strong, healthy relationship can be challenging, and if you need additional support, you can consider seeking help through individual or couples therapy

In a relationship where you feel lonely, concerns may pop up at unexpected times—for instance, perhaps you suddenly feel especially lonely after they are emotionally distant one night, or perhaps you feel alone after they have to work late all week consistently. In these cases, you may find reaching out to your counselor outside of sessions helpful. With online therapy, you can use in-app messaging to reach out to your therapist in those moments, and they will respond as soon as they can. 

Plus, research has found that online couples therapy delivered through videoconferencing can be just as effective as face-to-face therapy. 

Read below for counselor reviews from those who have experienced similar concerns.

Counselor reviews

"Steve has helped me personally in so many ways to better myself and tackle life's struggles and navigate me through tough times. Not only me personally but my wife and our marriage as a whole. I truly believe that without Steve's help and guidance, our marriage would not be where it is today." 

"Dr. Harrell was there for me and helped me get to the issues of my problems and triggers. I am a much better person and feel like a new person. I am pursuing a dream that I never thought would be possible to achieve. Again, my wife and I are on speaking terms with a small glimmer of hope. I honestly wouldn't be where I am now without her support."

Takeaway

Although a lonely marriage may feel uncertain, scary, and frustrating, it is something that you can take steps to address through intention and commitment. If you would like additional support in navigating relationship concerns or developing a stronger connection, individual or couples counseling may be helpful in creating the relationship you desire.
You're not alone with your loneliness
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