We don’t hear much about the loneliness of marriage. It creeps in silently when partners are least expecting it and finds a place to settle and grow relentlessly until divorce would be better. Yet couples hold on preferring to be isolated in their lonely marriages rather than be alone; and this situation is rife!
One of the reasons why people get married is for the sharing and togetherness. No-one opts to be ‘left on the shelf’ - loneliness is something they fear. Couples set themselves up for disappointment by having high expectations of each other and marriage but not discussing them. Once the honeymoon is over, they sit back and wait for the rewards that don’t come. They expect a ‘happily ever after’ life to arrive, but just like everything else in life, good things don’t happen unless you’re prepared to work towards them.
When disagreements and misunderstandings occur, communication invariably becomes strained. On the occasions when an atmosphere engulfs the pair and they should be discussing their differences in detail, it seems easier to say nothing and let the silence grow. After more arguments and longer silences, some of the sharing gets lost and then couples are live together but not in full harmony. They have unresolved issues which neither of them feels they can talk about: further disagreements occur more often, and the Spouses stay silent hoping that by not talking about things they will keep the peace and avoid conflict; but that can be a perilous road to travel.
Beginning early in marriage, it can grow undetected like a cancer – with similar effects! Yet no-one would dream of going to a Divorce Attorney to seek advice about unfulfilled expectations and the way forward; nor would they talk to their family or friends about how to better handle things. They would ignore these fights as being perfectly normal, and the silences would continue to build.
Scenarios could be:
…the wife rushes home from work and anxiously gets a meal prepared only to find that the husband has stayed later at work in order to discuss work matters with his colleagues rather than burden his wife – who doesn’t fully understand his job – he doesn’t even think of calling her. She sits and waits for him; now disappointed with his lateness because she hurried and made the extra effort to have things nice and ready for him on time.
He gets home and feels awkward and guilty because he’s late, he didn’t call, and he hasn’t met expectations. They sit together in silence, alone with their thoughts and unable to share their opinions as they might well offend their partners…
…the husband patiently waits with the kids for her to get home from a PTA meeting. She’s later than he expected her to be and he worries if she’s safe because it’s evening and she’s out on her own. He imagines her stopping for coffee or a drink with one of the other parents, but decides not to say anything about it because she doesn’t get out much. Absentmindedly he puts the kids to bed as his thoughts stay on his wife and her whereabouts.
She returns late because after the meeting she had a few glasses of wine with some of the other mothers who’d gone alone. She doesn’t understand why she feels guilty about a snatched couple of hours yet she deliberately doesn’t call him in case he’s angry. He says nothing as though he hadn’t noticed or doesn’t care. This makes her feel worse. Again, they sit together in their silence trapped with their thoughts and inability to discuss it in case of offending their partners…
Do either of them consider seeing a Divorce Lawyer about the stifling silence? No! They also don’t discuss this with their family or friends. They stoically ignore the issues and tell themselves that glitches in marriages are no big thing.
The residual effect runs over into the bedroom and the sex becomes less intimate and more mechanical. The silences are longer and broken with inconsequential comments – nothing of any meaningful depth; and the loving is less. Two people caught up as one in the act of coupling but separate and lonely in the most intimate of acts. Shut off from each other and trapped in their own thoughts. The afterglow is shorter and less personal than in the past, one picks up a book and starts reading, the other turns on the TV for a while.
They share the same bed, but they may as well be in two separate rooms. Neither will speak of what just happened in case they upset the other one. They are both isolated by the fear of upsetting the marriage and ending up lonely. So they stay together in their self-imposed trap of a lonely marriage.
Their thoughts and inactivity render them helpless and trapped. They long to share and be intimate again as they were when they were dating, and they harbour dreams of how things could have been. Yet still they grip tightly onto their forsaken marriage in preference to living alone and being lonely. Never realising that their trap of a lonely marriage is by far a worse and bitter, desolate kind of loneliness. Their self-confidence erodes, their resentment builds, their isolation leads to deceit and affairs – which bring guilt. Now the tables have turned a little and they feel guilty to have cheated on the person from whom they most need acceptance. They desperately hope the other one hasn’t noticed and won’t even think about divorce, but they also feel that now they’ve crossed the line, divorce could be inevitable.
Their children, family and friends seem to know more about the marriage than the married couple. They stand back in their little groups openly talking about how the couple should start communicating and refreshing their marriage, but secretly thinking about divorce and Divorce Attorneys.
Over years, each Spouse dreams of making things right with each other. They imagine themselves talking about it together and convince themselves they can put things right – but now is not the right time. They content themselves with the thought that they’ll do it tomorrow…but after years of tomorrows, their one important tomorrow slips further away.
There’s a huge difference between being lonely and being alone. You can be lonely in a crowd of people, think negative thoughts and wish you were somewhere else; or you can be contentedly alone ,happily exploring the opportunities that being alone brings, and experiencing positive thoughts of future happiness. It’s a matter of mindset.
However, there is no doubt that the loneliness of marriage never factors into our pre-wedding expectations. We expect that by getting married, we’ll share everything and always do things together - we’ll certainly never again be alone or lonely. Isn’t that one of the reasons why we get married? A happily married person would answer differently to a person isolated in the loneliness of marriage.
One thing is for certain: in that early post wedding glow, if you don’t start putting in the work by sharing your thoughts, communicating fully and discussing your expectations of each other in detail before you get married, then you certainly never will…..so, after the wedding, the silence and the loneliness begins…..