Posts Tagged: lonely

Married and Lonely: Does this describe you?

Couples come to my practice for all kinds of reasons: communication breakdown, complicated circumstances, reconciliation after marital mistakes. But one of the hardest obstacles to overcome is a lonely marriage. You may feel rejected, forgotten or un-important. You may even feel hopeless at ever making it better. I’ve heard many people say that their lonely marriage is so painful, it would be better to be alone and lonely, than married and lonely.

a wall between them

What is a lonely marriage, and how is it created? A lonely marriage consists of two well-meaning people who respect and love one another, but lack the skills or understanding to be deeply connected and intimate.

Symptoms of a lonely marriage look like:

  1. focusing on the kids’ and their activities but avoiding close contact.
  2. staying busy with work and personal goals, but letting the marriage take a low priority.
  3. trying to communicate about marital issues results in big fights and silent withdrawals without real resolution.
  4. forgetting what it feels like to have common interests, fun together, or stimulating conversations.
  5. decreased frequency and enjoyment in sexual or romantic experiences.

If you see these symptoms in your marriage, you may be married to a Loser. A loser isn’t the couch potato, it’s someone who loses out on really knowing you. Because they fear the vulnerability of intimacy, they hide their fears, weaknesses, and true feelings. You may find yourself doing the same.

Take a short quiz here to find out more about your marriage, and if loneliness is an issue.

A loser isn’t the couch potato, it’s someone who loses out on really knowing you.

Characteristics of a Loser

  • They avoid sharing personal feelings, thoughts, or ideas because emotional intimacy makes them uncomfortable.
  • They may be unable to have emotional closeness because they are emotionally immature- hopelessly stunted in their emotional development.
  • They may say things like, “You shouldn’t feel that way,” or “Why do you always make a big deal out of things,”  or “I’m just not an emotional person. I don’t know how I feel.” They will say almost anything to avoid emotional  vulnerability and intimacy.
  • They feel pressure to fix problems for you instead of empathize with you.
  • When asked if something is bothering them, they deny that anything is, and shut the conversation down.
  • They may be successful in many areas of their lives, but when it comes to close relationships, they use various  tactics, like withdrawal, humor, passive aggression, etc. to keep an emotional distance.

You may feel like you’re married to a Loser. Or maybe you feel like you’re the Loser, and you want to learn a different way to relate in your marriage. If you want to find out more, click here to take a short quiz. Though living in a lonely marriage can be painful, it is also an opportunity to make necessary changes inside yourself and your marriage.

Breaking Free from CoDependent People Pleasing

We all do it from time to time- say something we don’t mean, just to keep the peace. Keep quiet, when we should really speak up. Worry too much what other people think. Unfortunately, people-pleasing can create more trouble than it solves in the long run. Relationships can often get stuck in destructive patterns that leave you feeling the thing you were trying the hardest to avoid- rejection and loneliness. In marriage relationships, these patterns usually look like one person trying really hard, but in ineffective ways, and the other person hardly trying at all. Does that sound familiar? Really annoying, right? This pattern leaves one (maybe you?) exhausted and lonely, and the other annoyed and frustrated. Maybe you feel like you keep trying to make him love you, but end up feeling rejected instead.

LOVE letter in New York

If this is you, you may find yourself defaulting to the People-Pleasing mechanism called, Co-dependency. You may have heard this term used in treating addiction or alcoholism, but co-dependency is found in many non-addictive relationships, too.

What is Co-dependent People Pleasing?

Codependency, simply put, is being dependent on someone else to be okay.

This may sound harmless at first glance, but when co-dependent people-pleasers marry un-pleasable people, relationship breakdown is easily predicted.

Mary’s Story

For example, Mary fell in love with Robert early on in their relationships. Robert, the strong silent type, was confident and emotionally withdrawn. But Mary could look past his hard exterior and see the caring side of Robert few others could see. Mary, though unconscious of it at first, made it her mission to draw him out, expose him to new experiences, and make him laugh. Once they were married, she found Robert to be even more sullen than before. He would even become angry at her efforts to make him happy, or to share his feelings. She tried to cook the things he liked, wear the things he liked, and do the things he liked. But no matter what, she always seemed to miss the mark and fall short of his silent expectations. It’s not that he was mean or rude to Mary, he was just closed off and critical. She knew that Robert’s childhood was unhappy and harsh, so she made excuses for him and filled the emptiness with meaningless chatter.

Years into the marriage, Mary found herself feeling depressed and lonely. She often second guessed herself and had trouble making decisions. Marriage wasn’t the intimate friendship she thought it would be. She sometimes badgered Robert just to get a rise from him. Then she poured on the guilt after he exploded. He reacted to her with harsh judgments, and she dissolved into tears. She mistakenly thought that if she could just make him happy, then mayble she would finally feel loved.

Codependent People Pleasers rely on external forces for internal value.

Because they don’t have a solid sense of who they are, they gravitate toward those with ego-centered entitlement issues. Often co-dependent people pleasers take responsibility for others’ feelings of happiness, rage, depression, or fear. They are the perfect match for a partner who won’t take responsibility for his own life, and blames his unhappiness or misfortune on others. Rosenburg says, “Codependents are attracted to individuals who are either narcissistic or addicted and who neither want nor are able to fulfill their personal and emotional needs.” [1] Oh, ouch. So what’s a girl to do?fear not

How to Break Free

Breaking free of codependent people-pleasing in your relationship is not easy, but it is ESSENTIAL to your own growth and happiness. If you’ve followed my blog for very long, you know what I’m going to say. You MUST show your love-starved self a little love before you can effectively love someone else. Talk with a counselor about what you need and what you want. Identify your core needs, and make a plan to get those met. Let God fill you up, so you don’t feel so empty and lonely. Join a support group that will hold you accountable to your goals. Breaking free from co-dependent living is possible, and you can do it!

I developed the following graph so you can start concentrating on what a Healthy Relationship Paradigm looks like, and ways you can make small changes that produce big results in your relationship. You’ll see that the Prideful Paradigm people attract the People-Pleasing Paradigm People, and their relationship just reinforces their abandonment fears. However, healthy living results in a sense of belonging, togetherness and love.

Pride and Codependence

Recognizing the dynamic in your relationship is often the first step in breaking free and experiencing new energy and hopefulness.  Responding to your relationship from God’s love and strength will change the entire relationship system. Let me know how the shifts you make change the relationship dynamic. I’d love to hear your story!

[1] Ross Rosenberg, The Human Magnet Syndrome: Why We Love People Who Hurt Us (Eau Claire, WI: PESI Publishing and Media, 2013), 100.


How to Be Your Own Best Friend: Especially When Loneliness is Knocking

Hello to the Best People on Earth. I’m so happy you joined me today to talk about intimacy with The Self. For the last three weeks, we’ve been discussing how to nurture intimacy in your relationships. Intimacy is often intimidating because it requires risk, self- disclosure and willingness to feel vulnerable. Humans don’t naturally like these things. Intimacy takes courage.

But what about intimacy with yourself? What if you’re alone in your house. No one is calling. No one is texting. It’s Friday night and loneliness settles over you like a dark fog? Or what if the discord in your family relationships is so thick that even though you’re in a house full of people, you still feel shut out?

Loneliness is a depression trigger. If loneliness starts to settle in to your every day life, depression might be hot on its tail, leaving sad and sleepless nights in its wake. Loneliness speaks. It says things like, “What’s wrong with you? Everyone else has someone but you,” and “Other happy families are going places and doing things together, and “You missed the boat. Your chance at relationship happiness is over.”

Loneliness needs a muzzle, don’t you think? These kind of thoughts are no bueno because they are grossly exaggerated, they lack evidence, and they are just unproductive. 

Here are some ways to cultivate intimacy with yourself, thereby muzzling the criticism of loneliness.

  • Don’t Abandon Yourself. Just because you are alone, doesn’t mean you have to be lonely. You are not BY YOURSELF, as much as you are WITH YOURSELF. Re-frame the way you see alone-ness. Frame it positively instead of negatively. View your alone time as an opportunity not afforded to all, to meditate, to dig deeper, to think through, to curiously research, to formulate ideas and put them into practice- to mine the gold of your own soul. 
  • Do What You Want: Alone time gives you the opportunity to explore, experiment, practice and create what you really want to do. Find out what you like and get really good at it. practice it, work at it, master it. 
  • Take a Risk: the fact is, you need other people, and other people need you. Invest yourself in a group of people who care about you. I believe that the best groups are structured groups. I learned a few years ago, that unless I structured my time to see my friends, I would never see them. I joined the groups they lead, the classes they taught and the teams they were on. Yes, I went to PTA meetings I didn’t want to go to, and I cycled through SPIN class I cursed myself for trying, and I looked idiotic at Zumba- but, heck I was with my friends! Which was the whole point. Take a risk, and find a structured environment that nurtures friendship. Invest your time and heart into these environments and they will pay you back in big ways.

My brother and sister were 10 and 12 years older than me. By the age of 7, I was raised as an only child with two working parents. I spent a lot of time alone and there are still times, though surrounded by loving Mr. Dashing, Sweet and Sassy and the neediest dog on earth, my past gets triggered. My one constant from childhood till now, is my faith in Christ. I often feel God’s presence in the sunset, a favorite poem or the humming bird that visits the porch. 

Intimacy with the Self is a life long goal and can be practiced when we feel most alone. 

My “Relationship Savvy” blog gives you tips, advice, and flippin’ fantastic feel-goods to help with your most difficult relationship challenges.

Subscribe to our mailing list