Feeling lonely in marriage? Here's what you can do

Medically reviewed by Melissa Guarnaccia, LCSW
Updated April 24, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

When it comes to long-term partnerships, it is not uncommon for couples to settle into behavior patterns that leave one or both people feeling lonely. These patterns may develop gradually, eroding feelings of closeness and connection. While this can often be due to factors such as busy schedules, work stress, and household management, other underlying issues may exacerbate feelings of isolation. 

Insecurity in the relationship, lack of emotional or physical intimacy, mental health struggles, or unresolved conflicts can all contribute to a growing distance between partners. External pressures, such as family responsibilities, financial stress, or social expectations, can also strain a relationship, leading to a sense of disconnection. Over time, couples may start spending less quality time together, which can foster feelings of alienation. 

However, these feelings don't necessarily signal the end of a relationship. With mindfulness, communication, and consistent effort, it may be possible for couples to reconnect and deepen trust and companionship. This article will explore the causes and signs of loneliness in marriage and outline some couple's counselor-approved strategies for reigniting your bond.

Need help reconnecting with your spouse or partner?

Understanding the causes of loneliness in marriage

Loneliness or alienation can place significant strain on a marriage or relationship. If you’re feeling lonely, consider whether any of the following may be contributing to your feelings of distance or alienation:

  • Lack of connection: When emotional or physical intimacy become more infrequent, couples may experience feelings of disconnectedness.

  • Lack of communication: A communication breakdown can create or contribute to an emotional gap between romantic partners.

  • Relationship insecurity: Research has found insecure attachment to be a predictor of relationship quality and loneliness.

  • Differences in values:  Couples with different beliefs or values may find it challenging to maintain a healthy connection.

  • Lack of time together: Lack of quality time together can take a toll on feelings of intimacy and closeness.

  • External stressors: Stress is known to negatively impact marriage quality and communication. 

  • Individual mental or emotional struggles: In some cases, feelings of isolation may occur alongside diminished mental or emotional health. 

Identifying signs of loneliness

Loneliness within a relationship can trigger a number of unhelpful thoughts and complex or confusing emotions. In some cases, one partner may feel lonely or ignored, while other times, both partners may experience a sense of emotional drift. Feelings of connectedness and intimacy may deteriorate, resulting in a sense of isolation and detachment.

This may occur alongside decreased intimacy, where partners fail to connect emotionally or physically, or exhibit a lack of interest in spending quality time with one another. Loneliness may increase instances of misunderstandings or conflict, further driving couples apart. 

If you are noticing feelings of loneliness, consider exploring the origins of your thoughts, reflecting on what may be contributing to your sense of isolation. Assess your needs and expectations, and try to identify some specific instances where you and your partner failed to connect with one another. Once you have identified where things may be going wrong, you may begin working through some marriage counseling strategies for reconnecting with one another.

Strategies to combat loneliness

With awareness, communication, and effort, couples experiencing emotional disconnect can re-establish their bond and rekindle romance. 

Open and honest communication

In any relationship, communication is key. Set aside a time to talk to your partner and talk about your feelings. Try to avoid blaming your partner, employing “I” statements to describe your thoughts and emotions. Give your partner time to tell their feelings before responding, using active listening to ensure they feel heard and understood. 

To keep the conversation productive, try to focus on problem-solving with your partner and discuss what each of you can do going forward to ensure the other feels cared-for. With a foundation of mutual understanding and communication, you and your partner can work towards rebuilding your bond.

Mindfulness and consideration

Often, it can be easy to overlook the role of mindfulness within a partnership. Small gestures can have a profound impact on marital satisfaction, serving as constant reminders of love and attention. This can be as small as bringing your partner their morning coffee or tea, leaving a loving note, or holding hands while watching a movie. 

To create healthier patterns within your relationship, mindfulness is crucial. Remain aware of your partner and their needs, noticing opportunities to express love, understanding, and thoughtfulness. In turn, be sure to communicate your gratitude frequently. Gratitude—both felt and expressed—is known to significantly increase marital satisfaction, and may help reinforce positive habits within your partnership.

Rekindling intimacy

Physical and emotional intimacy are paramount to a successful relationship, forming the core of a meaningful romantic connection. In order to restore intimacy, it may be helpful to make plans for a romantic night out, a cozy evening at home, or a weekend getaway. 

Spending time together can foster feelings of love and affection, allowing you and your partner to bond through experiences. Use your time together to reconnect, communicate openly, and rekindle the spark. This sense of closeness can also help you and your partner break down any barriers that may be hindering physical intimacy, which may be essential in reigniting passion and enhancing relationship satisfaction.

Professional help if needed

For those experiencing prolonged periods of disconnect or loneliness, it may be worth speaking to a therapist or couples counselor. In some cases, loneliness may be the result of an underlying issue, such as past trauma, mental illness, or an insecure attachment style. Individual therapy can help you work through any personal issues that may be impacting your relationship.

If you are experiencing trauma, support is available. Please see our Get Help Now page for more resources.

Many couples also find it beneficial to attend relationship therapy with a couples counselor. Through couples counseling, you and your partner can learn to communicate more effectively, deepen your understanding of one another’s needs and feelings, and develop strategies to strengthen your bond. 

Maintaining connection and avoiding future loneliness

Once you and your partner have re-established your connection, you may benefit from discussing how to maintain your progress. Consider scheduling regular check-ins with one another to help keep the lines of communication open. Keep up discussions about your thoughts and feelings, goals, needs, and desires. 

Try to remember that relationships take continuous maintenance, and can be greatly enhanced through consistent effort, understanding, and empathy. Maintaining healthy relationship habits, such as date nights, thoughtful gestures, and ongoing couples therapy can help couples maintain their connection in spite of stressful or difficult times. 

Couples counseling for reconnecting

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFTs) are specially trained to help couples achieve their goals using proven, evidence-based treatment methods. EFT, the Gottman Method, and Imago Relationship Therapy are a few types of therapy known to be beneficial for overcoming the types of issues that can lead to feelings of loneliness or isolation,

Need help reconnecting with your spouse or partner?

Emotionally focused therapy (EFT)

Emotionally focused therapy is a type of therapy aimed at helping couples understand their emotional response and create more saf, long-lasting bonds. The goal of EFT is to deepen trust, understanding, and emotional connection between couples. It is widely regarded as an effective form of couples therapy, with a substantial body of research to support its use for improved and long-lasting marital satisfaction.

The Gottman Method

The Gottman Method was developed by renowned relationship counselors Drs. John and Julie Gottman. Built on decades of research, this approach emphasizes enhancing friendship and prioritizing positive communication. Its goal is to help couples improve intimacy, manage conflict, and build meaning. The Gottman Method is a widely-used, evidence-based type of couples therapy that can help couples reconnect after a period of disconnect.

Imago relationship therapy

Imago Relationship Therapy is another type of therapy that many couples find beneficial for restoring emotional intimacy. It aims to help couples understand the connection between their childhood experiences and their adult relationships. It can help individuals achieve personal growth within the context of their partnership, promoting mutual healing and empathy. 

Online couples therapy

Platforms like Regain offer a convenient and affordable way for couples to attend therapy from the comfort of home. Online couples therapy has been found to be just as effective as in-person therapy, and may be preferable for couples with busy schedules that make it difficult to attend in-person appointments. 


Loneliness, isolation, and lack of connection can affect even the most loving partnerships. A number of situational factors may contribute to periods of disconnect, such as external stressors and consistently busy schedules. Underlying relationship issues may also cause couples to feel lonely, such as insecure attachment styles, lack of quality time, or differences in values. 

However, it may be possible for couples to address these issues through healthy communication, mutual consideration and mindfulness, and improved intimacy. Online couples therapy can offer guidance, perspective, and evidence-based strategies for rebuilding the bond between couples. Get started by matching with a couples therapist on Regain.

You're not alone with your loneliness
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