“Loneliness in Marriage—It’s a Thing,” Ensign, December 2019
When I was single, it never occurred to me that I might experience loneliness during marriage—in fact, I thought of marriage as the ticket out of loneliness for the rest of my life. So, when I started feeling lonely a couple months into my marriage, it was a rude awakening.
I have an incredible husband and a great marriage. But during the first year and a half of our marriage, I would cry to my husband for hours about being lonely. Acknowledging the loneliness was helpful, but it also made me feel so guilty. I thought that I was being selfish, that something must be wrong with me, that I wasn’t a good wife or a good friend.
I’m not exactly sure why we don’t talk about loneliness in marriage being a thing, but let’s just put it out there: sometimes even happily married people experience loneliness. And it’s OK if you’re one of them.
The power of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ to understand and heal you is unique and personal, even in the universality of loneliness. But there are also some things you can do to combat your loneliness in marriage. Here are some suggestions:
It’s a crazy time of life, so often young adults don’t see their spouses as much as they think they will. This can be a lonely realization, especially when you’re facing all sorts of other big changes in your life, such as moving, starting a demanding school program or job, or having a baby. If you’re confronted with lots of time alone, try developing some new hobbies, strengthening the other relationships in your life, disconnecting from social media, or exercising. And through it all, take the necessary time to stay connected with the Lord. As you fill your time meaningfully, joy and fulfillment will replace your loneliness. Plus, these types of activities can help you enrich your marriage.
Your spouse is obviously the one person to whom you should confide all your deepest and most heartfelt feelings and insecurities. He or she is your first line of defense against all that you’re enduring. Share with them any feelings of loneliness you may be experiencing. They can’t serve and help and bless you unless they know and understand your struggles. As you’re transparent, open, and vulnerable with your spouse—without unleashing accusations or blame—feelings of compassion and love between you will likely grow. You will also both be reminded that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ should be central to your marriage as you seek to strengthen and uplift each other.
Sometimes, however, confiding in your spouse may not be enough. No matter how much you love your spouse and how much he or she loves you, you are two distinct individuals with potentially different ways of communicating and thinking. You have different opinions, different needs, and different ways of dealing with those needs.
This is where an unbiased listener—someone both husband and wife can agree upon and feel comfortable with, like a therapist, a counselor, or your bishop—could come in. Parents and even most friends are likely not the best choice in this situation, since you need someone unbiased who will help you work through your problems—not just validate your point of view—without judging your spouse.
When you communicate with this listener, it should not be a venting session but rather a productive way to talk through your problems, one of which may be your desire to cultivate a better relationship with your spouse. To maintain trust and transparency in your marriage, be open and honest with your spouse about these conversations with others. Never conceal conversations from your spouse or be secretive about the help you’re getting. In fact, sharing with your spouse the counsel and guidance you receive from others will likely help your spouse identify how best to serve and sustain you.
One of the best ways to combat your loneliness is to serve others, especially your spouse. The more selfless we become, the better we will be able to cope with loneliness. Plus, when you serve others, you become more connected to them. Concerning how to serve your spouse, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said: “One of the great purposes of true love is to help each other. … No one ought to have to face … trials alone. We can endure almost anything if we have someone at our side who truly loves us, who is easing the burden and lightening the load.”1
Since brief 10-minute increments spent with your spouse here and there aren’t the best way to strengthen the relationship, you might consider setting aside more significant blocks of one-on-one time together—like date night, for example. We shouldn’t stop dating our spouse once we get married. Don’t treat that as optional. Setting aside this time might require some sacrifice, but quality time together can help combat the loneliness you might be feeling. You get to spend time together that isn’t rushed or stressful, and you show your spouse that they are a priority to you.
Make a habit of reaching out to others. Don’t feel discouraged when plans fall through or people don’t respond. Just keep trying—eventually you will find friends you can connect with. And once you do, don’t feel guilty about spending time with them, as long as it does not impose on your (or their) family time. It’s healthy to have friends beyond just your spouse: we all need different relationships in order to thrive.
Even when you’re in a wonderful, healthy marriage and have good coping skills, there may still be times when you feel lonely. Remember that Christ “descended below all things” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:6) and that He knows “according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities” (Alma 7:12). Christ knows how it feels to be lonely, and He will never abandon you.
But even more personally, He has felt your loneliness. He knows if you feel purposeless since moving to a new state for your husband’s job. He knows if you feel isolated from your wife after a miscarriage. He understands if you wish you could see your spouse for more than 10 minutes a day. He understands if you crave to interact with other adults after days alone with your little ones. He knows your frustration if you have a disagreement with your spouse. He knows how you feel if you cry because your single friends seem to have disappeared. He knows if you sometimes feel crushed by the weight of responsibility to provide for your family.
In your moments of loneliness and desperation, when you feel like you have nowhere to turn, turn first to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. There is holiness in being connected to Them so intimately, knowing that They completely understand when no one else truly can. As you pray to Heavenly Father, your struggles will not necessarily disappear, but Jesus Christ will strengthen your capacity to endure and grow. Even during the moments of loneliness, you will feel the peace that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ bring.