Is Your Spouse Lonely? What You Can Do
Many couples come to therapy because they no longer love their spouses’. Well . . . to be exact, they love their spouses’—i.e., they don’t wish them to fall over dead or something morbid like that. Rather they are just not ‘in love’ with their spouses’. They don’t ‘feel’ the passion; they lack the riveting feeling of romance; the sparks have died and the candle has burned out. All that is left is a gloomy rain cloud hovering around their marriage.
Now I must confess that writing this last paragraph brought me to tears (and I rarely tear up). Not because I am amazing at writing prose. Rather, I placed myself into the shoes of a woman or man who truly wants their marriage to succeed but is now seeing what looks like its inevitable doom. How scary. How disappointing. How sad.
This guy did not set out in marriage hoping for a divorce. She thinks they will be the exception, or at least hope they are. A guy sees divorce all around him, but this feeling he has for his gal is something he has never felt before. Nothing will come between them. And then loneliness slowly creeps in.
The feeling of loneliness is one of the most haunting feelings a human being can experience. Our very beings cry out for connection, acceptance, for love. How meaningful is the gentle hand on our backs? A good night kiss or a morning’s hug reassures our hearts that we matter to at least someone. Even a simple flirtatious look or gesture from one’s spouse communicates heaps of meaning to the one that receives it. It tells him or her that he/she is desired in a way that no other person is desired. With 6 or 7 billion people in the world, this is existentially monumental!
But for some reason we stop doing these small gestures along the way. They seem trivial, petty, a waste of time. We tell ourselves our spouses know we love them. There are more important things to do. My baby is crying. My house is a mess. I am late for work. My favorite team is about to start playing. Day after day, week after week, year after year, we ignore our spouses until one day when we finally get around to reaching for their hands they pull theirs’ away with glassy, hollow eyes (and I am not just being poetic here). We have lost them.
Is it your entire fault? Of course it’s not. You just didn’t help the situation. You forgot how important these small acts of love were. Did you know that those marriages that succeed happily have a 5 to 1 ratio of positive to negate events? This means for every negative moment in the marriage, it takes 5 positive moments to more or less repair that negativity. The good news is these positive moments needn’t be magnanimous acts. Ninety-nine percent of the time, small acts of love will do the trick. Doing the dishes, picking up your socks, a hug, or good night kiss goes a long way in telling your spouse that she or he matters.
Please, go home and kiss your wife. Please, go home and flirt with him. Please, stop waiting for her to do it. Stop putting the blame on him. This is getting your marriage nowhere. This cycle of negativity needs to end and you can be the agent of change today.
Brandon Wall is a counselor in Cedar Rapids, Iowa: http://www.cedarrapidscounselingcenter.com/