I feel completely alone in my marriage
I have been married for 11 years. Within the past 2 years we have drifted far apart. We coexist together but there is very little personal interest in each other. I often feel that my husband has "friends" at work that he is more emotional invested in than me. I feel very alone and just uncared for. Is there anything I can do to feel reconnected?
Your question highlights your pain very clearly. What you are describing is one of the most common scenarios I see in my practice with couples: One partner feels terribly lonely and unimportant in response to the other partner either turning towards other people and activities or being withdrawn and turning inward. My mind immediately goes to a question for you: What happens when you are feeling alone and uncared for? What do you say to yourself about you, about your spouse, and about your relationship? What do you do in response to these feelings? Do you ask for what you need? Does this lead to arguments? Do you stay silent or withdraw?
Very often, couples enter into negative patterns where one partner feels afraid of rejection by the other partner and so withdraws from the relationship (and is often seen as "cold and aloof" towards the relationship), and the other partner feels afraid of abandonment by the withdrawing partner and so pursues the other (and is often seen as "critical and nagging"). Regardless of "who started it," these patterns can turn into infinity loops that take on a gravity of their own, and ultimately cause both partners to withdraw and dissolve the relationship. If both partners want to work on saving and improving the relationship, the way out of this is to learn about your emotions and patterns together so that you can slow down the pattern and stay in touch with the emotions that pull people together. As the patterns slow down, partners are better able to get more deeply in touch with their vulnerabilities, needs and longings, and ask for them to be met in such a way that doesn't leave the other partner feeling criticized, threatened, abandoned, or uncared for.
Some couples can do this without the help of a therapist. The book "Hold Me Tight: 7 Conversations for a LIfetime of Love" by Sue Johnson is a self-help book based on Emotionally Focused Therapy (the most scientifically validated couples therapy that currently exists), and has been helpful to many couples that I see. When a therapist is needed to help partners reconnect or overcome betrayals, I recommend seeking couples therapists who are trained in a scientifically tested model of couples therapy (such as Emotionally Focused Therapy. You can learn more about EFT or find an EFT therapist here: http://www.iceeft.com).
Your pain is understandable and valid. It's telling you what you are missing and what you want.
Reconnection comes when we can listen to what our feelings are telling us, express those feelings in a safe way, and assert our wants/needs, while remaining open to the vulnerabilities and needs of our partner.
If you can do that on your own, and your relationship is responsive, that's fantastic! If you encounter challenges in resolving this yourself, consider therapy with a trained couples therapist using a model that is scientifically validated.
Pain means this is important! You and your marriage are worth the effort!
- 411 views
Piggybacking on the other respondent's suggestions, I also agree that most couples could use more frequent and more bonding communication in their relationships, and this is a GREAT place to get the ball rolling towards reconnecting.
Surveying the demographical data on long-term relationships, it's pretty common for couples to start to struggle around the 7-10 year mark and in fact, that's often when first time divorces happen. And for lots of reasons...most of them having something to do with beginning to take one another for granted and no longer doing the little things that nourish the relationship and light our partners up. Seems like you've encountered this in your own relationship...where he appears to be neglecting your need for emotional connection with him.
Doesn't have to be this way though. And from my own personal clinical experience, I can tell you that when even ONE partner is willing to make some small but powerful changes, they can often ripple outward to the other partner and bring about miraculous outcomes!
So my encouragement to you is this - if you're still in love with him...even a little bit...and you're down to try something new, there's hope! As hard as it may be, I would ask you to try and focus on YOUR own side of the street when approaching him. Use an open and curious approach with him.
Ask him what he thinks he needs in a marriage.
- What is it about you he fell in love with?
- What helps him feel more fulfilled as a man and as a husband?
- What little things that you have done over the years does he appreciate?
- "The Secret to Desire in a Long-Term Relationship" (Ted Talk) by Esther Perel
- "Getting Together & Staying Together: Solving the Mystery of Marriage" by William & Carleen Glasser
- "Divorce Busting - A Step By Step Approach to Making Your Marriage Loving Again" by Michelle Weiner-Davis
- "The Relationship Cure: a 5 step Guide to Strengthening your Marriage, Family, and Friendships" by John Gottman & Joan DeClaire
- "The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work" by John Gottman & Nan Silver
- "The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman
- 1149 views
I'm sure you've tried to talk to your husband, but if not, could you? Have a conversation with him about him and his life, his work, etc. See if he relaxes and opens up to you, even a little bit. Don't try to have a heavy conversation or even unburden yourself to him during this first conversation - just try to be light-hearted and focus on hearing him. It's the first step towards getting your needs met too, and ending any emotional standoff that might have come about between you.
- 260 views
I'm sorry for how you're feeling in your marriage lately.
Are you and your husband able to talk directly about your feelings?
The way two people connect is usually by talking with each other to understand what each one cares about and thinks.
Your current emotional suffering is the natural result of being married to someone who shows no interest in doing this.
If your husband wants to start talking with you, then there is a chance the two of you can reconnect. If he doesn't want to participate in the relationship with you, then start to think if its possible and for how long, to get emotional support from friends and family who do care for you.
Also a question for the future is to understand what the value of your marriage is to you besides having a connection to your husband.
- 292 views
Communication opens up what is called "cognitive space" for your partner, and allows them to do the same for you. The more you know about each other, especially your everyday lives, creates a bond between the two of you. Much like the saying goes in the military, the same is true for a couple; "Complacency Kills". It is important for both of you to invest in each other on a regular basis. I regularly recommend that both of you take the 5 Love Languages Assessment and start using each other's top love languages to help show each other the positive affection that you feel (or at least want to feel) for one another. Start asking about your husband's day, trying to learn about all the interactions that he has at work, and feel free to ask questions so that he knows you really want to know about him, and know him intimately again.
- 147 views
Feeling alone in your marriage is one of the most painful feelings. Wanting connection with your spouse yet feeling the all too familiar distance that's keeping you apart can be so hurtful. But, change is possible. You might be able to move closer toward each other on your own but since there has been two years of distance, I would suggest looking into couples therapy with a trained couples therapist. They are trained in helping couples begin to examine what's been happening that has caused a drift in your marriage.
I'm also curious if there was a significant event that occurred around the time you started feeling distant. If there was something that occurred during this time that is hard for you both to talk about, couples therapy can help with this also. It can provide a safe and supportive space for you both.
- 103 views
Absolutely. Your question shows that you are going through a lot of pain and I'm sorry for that. Many couples go through this disconnect and hope to come to reconnect before things get to a breaking point. What I think can help is the following:
1.) Understand what his primary concern is
2.) Understand what your primary concern is
3.) What would you like to see different?
4.) What would he like to see different?
5.) Be honest about your concern with him having friends (Be ready for honesty)
6.) Help him understand you feel alone without him feeling guilty.
7.) Let him know how committed you are to making this relationship despite the two of you drifting apart.
8.) Sometimes if you just acknowledge the elephant in the room.
9.) Couples/Marriage Therapy
- 92 views
What you are describing is something I often refer to as "living with your roommate" phenomenon. This is the idea that you feel like you are living with a roommate and no your partner or spouse . It is not uncommon for members of a couple to report to feel both physical and/or emotional distance. When we don't feel connected within relationships, this can be isolating and lonely. The emotional distance often makes us wonder: am I important to the other? These types of feelings need to be better understood in the context of your own background and upbringing I.e., who you are and also better understood in the context of your couple. Feeling reconnected can occur-- but there is not a "one size fits all" solutoon. As a first step, do you or your partner have any ideas of how to feel reconnected? Have you considering talking to your partner about the emotional void? Or how about discussing solutions , together, that might help-- from individual therapy to couple therapy to a weekly date night to inquiring about one another's personal interest to starting off the conversation of what both of you want and can do to re-establish feelings of connectiveness. If this is too frightening I.e., to address the lack of connection between you and your spouse. a fist meeting with a couple therapist can likely help unpack what the possible solutions for your couple.
- 103 views
I can think of several things that may help you to reconnect. I don't know how much time you actually spend together, but one thing you could try is to spend 15 minutes a week together talking about common interests or other things that make you feel connected.
Have you considered a date night or anything (doesn't have to cost a lot of money, but could make each of you feel special)?
Something else you could try is to consider talking to each other in a way where you summarize what you are hearing and reflect back to make sure that you got it right rather than just assuming so. Communicating this way can feel awkward at times, but it could reconnect how you are listening and deeply connecting with your partner. Also, you may discover that you are on two different pages about things on which you thought you understood what each other felt, wanted, or desired.
Consider what makes your partner feel loved, valued, appreciated, or special. Can you name a few things and get them right according to your partner when you check in? Can he do the same for you?
You could also try doing two things every day that would be appreciated by your partner without either of you having to ask for it. There is some more information here, although what you do for one another does not necessarily need to be on this list: http://www.couplesinstitute.com/tracking-success-by-doing-the-daily-double/
Reconnecting is a bit of a process. Try to praise yourself and your partner for attempts that you make and recognize that you're not going to get it right 100% of the time. You may also find this book to be helpful (or there are other similar ones by the same author): https://smile.amazon.com/Love-Languages-Secret-that-Lasts/dp/080241270X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1471479801&sr=8-1&keywords=Love+languages
If this still seems difficult, consider seeing a local mental health professional. As one more thought, recall that this relationship involves both of you. If you are both committing to change your level of connection, change will likely not be a steady uphill climb (there could be plateaus or even some dips back in a negative direction) and each of you may change at a different rate.
Best wishes in your quest for connection!
- 173 views
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