“I thought I’d lost it,” said Billie, a wife of eight years. “I was in the grocery store check-out line. The man in front of me glanced back and smiled. He looked so kind. I had an overwhelming impulse to ask him to hug me. When I got to my car, I burst into tears. I finally had to admit how lonely I felt.”
“I’m tired of feeling alone,” Diane, who’s been married 14 years, commented. “My husband, Ben, is into everything. He has a ball game or a meeting nearly every night. If he’s home he’s on the phone talking over strategies for the next game or meeting. He has time for everyone except me.”
“If friends and colleagues were enough,” Kim, a wife of 10 years, complained, “I wouldn’t have married. I want a husband. I want someone who’s with me, who can share my life on a daily basis.”
No one expects it to happen. Marriage is supposed to prevent loneliness, isn’t it? Unfortunately, it doesn’t.
In our work with couples, we’ve frequently heard the same kind of complaint: “I’m married, but I’m lonely.” We all crave the physical and emotional intimacy of a spouse who’s really there for us. When this doesn’t happen, frustration, hurt, and anger mingle with feelings of betrayal. “What’s the point of being married,” as Billie put it, “if you have to go looking when you need someone?” And the longer those feelings of loneliness exist, the stronger the possibility that a spouse will look outside the marriage for support, affection, companionship, and love.1