There Are Only 2 Ways To Deal With Loneliness In Marriages & Relationships

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Why Do I Feel So Alone? How To Deal With Loneliness When You're Married Or In A Relationship

Feeling lonely even though you're not alone?

If you've ever asked yourself, "Why do I feel so alone?", or wondered how to deal with loneliness in a relationship, you're in the right place. 

The sheer fact that you recognize that you feel lonely in your marriage or relationship is great awareness.

Take a moment to imagine what relationships would be like without contrast. You’d never know from one moment to the next if you and your husband or wife were feeling close or distant, happy or sad, lit up or lazy together.

Your relationship would exist as shades of beige, rather than the colorful, vibrant, living thing that it is — even with all of the loneliness and isolation in it.

RELATED: 7 Signs You're Suffering From Chronic Loneliness

Forget about the “why” of that isolation you feel and celebrate the clarity you now have. You will figure out why you feel alone later, but what’s most important, right now, is that you recognize you're dealing with loneliness and feeling isolated.

Now that you’re clear about the feeling of loneliness, ask yourself: Are you feeling lonely often in your marriage or relationship?

If the answer is "yes" and you want to feel isolated, then you're doing just fine. But, just a guess, you're probably hoping to find how to not feel lonely anymore. 

If you feel isolated more than you want, that’s good insight, too. You need something that isn’t available — yet — in your relationship.

So if you keep asking yourself, "Why do I feel so alone in my marriage?", you have two choices that can help you learn how to deal with loneliness: either you abandon your relationship or you make a personal change to stop feeling alone. 

1. Abandoning your relationship

Now that you have more clarity on your isolation, you can act on it instead of feeling some vague sense of unease.

It’s normal to want to leave a relationship if it’s not everything you want, right? But, it can get much more complex if the relationship is a marriage that involves kids or a business or anything you created together.

There are some relationships that will just never work, and breaking up a partnership with no real connection can free both people to do better with a different partner.

It’s difficult to be judgment-neutral about ending a relationship, especially when you're the one in it. But in the absence of your ability to change and make a sustained commitment to that change, abandoning ship is often the way things go down.

2. Making a personal change

You can't change someone else by trying, but you can influence change by setting an example. That’s how it works. The question right now, though, is whether the isolation you feel is a big enough "why" for you to change.

Do your feelings of isolation have enough energy to change you? If they do, there’s no reason to end a relationship you’re about to bring your new, improved self into. Your change might be so amazing that the relationship itself will also change. Isn't that worth working hard for?

Yes, change is hard. But it’s entirely under your control. Clarity and contrast are all you need to initiate change, and this change you want for yourself has a decent chance of changing your relationship, too.

When we are isolated, we want the opposite: connection, intimacy, and closeness.

We want to feel less like one of two islands in a big ocean together and more like the ocean itself: a vibrant, nurturing, environment where life and ideas thrive.

What’s the best way to describe the opposite of isolation? Write it down somewhere and make a list. These are all things you want — all the things you can choose now, especially since you know their opposite, isolation, is not what you want.

RELATED: 11 Life-changing Steps To Banish Loneliness From Your Life

From that list, pick one thing you want to practice. For example, "closeness". That’s fairly opposite to isolation, right? How would you start a closeness practice?

Remember, this is about you. What you do influences others, especially in a relationship. You’re about to start an individual practice of closeness and emotional connection that will disrupt the relationship status quo, but this closeness is something you want, and isolation is the fuel that will power your change.

Begin by asking yourself how you extend closeness to others. How open are you to casual acquaintances? Are there small ways you could invite closeness?For example, do you initiate a smile to a homeless person on the street?

Do you offer your seat on the subway to someone who seems to need a rest? Do you allow another driver to merge in front of you instead of speeding up?

With the friends you know well, do you initiate the coffee dates? If you haven’t already done so, be the first to offer an invitation, or reach out with a phone call or text or offer unsolicited words of encouragement.

Other possibilities will occur to you as you start to practice closeness in this way.

It’s not rocket science. It’s simple. It’s what Ghandi called "being the change you want to see in the world."

Since this is a practice, you can expect to improve at it the more you do it. Oddly enough, this kind of practice can become something you want to do and enjoy, making it a great tactic for how to deal with loneliness. 

Try this with the other opposites of isolation on your list. Be gentle with yourself and don’t get all judgmental about whether or not you see "progress" — this is a practice, after all.

Finally, with your relationship, as you bring sustainable change practices into your life, they will also become a part of your relationship.

These changes can take two forms:

  • The change you want is good for you, but is unwelcome in your relationship.
  • The change you want is good for both of you and creates a positive change in your relationship.

If your positive, sustainable change is good for you but not for the relationship, that’s contrast that you can use to strengthen your resolve, perhaps even to leave the relationship. But, if your change is good for both of you and you feel less chronic loneliness in the relationship, well, you’ve done it!

We all deserve pathways to our very best selves, best relationships, and best lives. You can do this. And you’re not alone.

RELATED: 5 Ways To Deal With Loneliness (& Start Making Genuine Connections)

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Bill Protzmann is a speaker and life coach on a mission to raise awareness about the power of music as self-care. Visit his website for more information.

This article was originally published at Practical Heart Skills. Reprinted with permission from the author.