Loneliness in marriage is a unique kind of loneliness. You feel alone–even when someone’s with you. And in many ways, that’s harder to deal with.
I’m in Countdown -24 hours mode, where my mom has to turn over the keys to her house in 24 hours and there’s still stuff to move. So I’m going to head over there and help her, and I’m so delighted to have Tiffany Godfrey join us today to issue a warning about how we deal with loneliness in marriage–do we turn to Jesus, or do we start thinking that life would be better with someone other than our spouse?
A Romantic Date Night Turned Sour
I want you to picture yourself on a romantic evening with your husband.
You’re on a boat in a lake. The sun is setting and the sky is a beautiful majestic purple.
Your husband rows you out into the middle of the lake. The two of you have been laughing and talking all day. You’re eating your favorite dinner and you’re enjoying your favorite love music. He even gives you that beautiful diamond bracelet you’ve been talking about all year.
It’s been, well… a romantic evening.
You feel good, you’re starting to feel tingly, and this puts you in the mood to make love.
It’s something you haven’t done in a while, but because your husband has showered you with so much love, communication, and that new bracelet, you can’t resist him.
But suddenly you and your husband have an over something minor—of all things, one of your kid’s report cards!
It started as a light disagreement.
But then, he pushes your buttons and then you say some things to totally insult him. You’re angry and the last thing you want to do is apologize, so you don’t. And the thought of sex now sounds repulsive because you no longer feel loved. You feel rejected, alone, and distant from your husband.
Was fighting really worth it after all of the wonderful things you did and said to one another on this night?
Instead of responding to your harsh words, your husband swims off, leaving you in the middle of the lake by yourself without telling you where he’s going or when he’ll be back.
You’re so far out in the lake that you can’t even see the shore anymore.
He swims off with the oars and to top it all off, you can’t swim!
How does this make you feel? Lonely, rejected, shut out of your husband’s life?
I’ve been through this mental battle many times with my husband.
Often times we’ve had disagreements and arguments, both over trivial and major things in our marriage.
At times we would talk it out, but at other times we would become distant from one another.
While my husband would get hurt and frustrated over some of my actions, I don’t think he could ever understand the pain and loneliness I felt when he’d shut down and refused to talk to me about our problems.
I felt like I was alone and needed to be rescued.
I felt vulnerable and ostracized from my husband. And the sad thing was that in my mind, there were a ton of other men sitting in other boats on my lake of heartache, just waiting to get into my boat.
In other words, I would feel like cheating…at least in my mind!
Have you ever felt this way?
What Choice Will You Make in the Middle of Loneliness?
When you feel lonely and stuck in your marriage, you have one of two choices at this point.
1) You can entertain one or more of the other men in the boats of your mind by allowing them to get into your boat. Another word for this is adultery.
There are three types of adultery.
One type is physical adultery. In most cases a married woman will not cheat physically on her husband initially. Something has led to this type of action.
Women are emotionally stimulated. And when they don’t feel loved by their husbands, at times they will seek out affection and validation from other men, even it’s only in their minds.
Mental adultery occurs when a woman constantly fantasizes about being with another man. She blocks her husband from her thoughts and replaces him with the “man of her dreams” (as she imagines).
Mental adultery could involve thinking about something as innocent as holding hands and walking on the beach with another man. Or it could be as racy as imagining that you are having sexual intercourse with this man. In fact, some women have been guilty of thinking about the “other man” when they are actually having intercourse with her husbands!
I have been guilty of mental adultery.
Earlier in our marriage when I became frustrated with my husband, my mind would often wander…
I’d think about how wonderful it was to be with another man and doing this would take me away from the reality of my broken marriage…at least for a while.
Some women who struggle with mental adultery try to justify their actions by saying, “Well, I’m not sleeping with the man I’m thinking about so it’s not that bad, right?”
Anytime you replace your husband with someone else even in your mind, you are guilty of adultery which of course is sin.
And mental adultery can often lead to the next type: emotional adultery.
Emotional adultery occurs when you begin sharing your heart with another man. You spend time with this man in an inappropriate way. Whenever you begin sharing intimate details of yourself about your goals, feelings, and your marriage, you are setting yourself up to commit adultery.
This could include a:
- Family friend
- Member at your church
- Even the mail man!
In addition to talking emotional adultery can also include touching, kissing, caressing, and even gazing into one another’s eyes.
These are all things that should occur between a man and women only within the confines of the marriage relationship because it can ultimately lead to sexual activity. And this can lead to a broken marriage, broken hearts, and ultimately a divorce.
While I didn’t commit physical adultery, I realized that my mental adultery was just as damaging to my marriage. And if I didn’t stop, it would lead me to commit the other types of adultery as well.
But thank God there is another option when you feel alone in that boat. I eventually learned how to take this next option.
2) Remember there is someone else in that boat with you: Jesus Christ.
You can reach out to Jesus by talking to Him and telling Him how you feel. He already knows what you’re going through because He was in the boat even before the argument with your husband started.
In fact, He knew you would have an argument!
When you turn to Jesus, He will listen and talk with you.
How Childhood Triggers Affect our Thought Life
There have been many times when I’ve reached out to Jesus and He would respond and show me some things about myself that I needed help in.
In fact, it wasn’t until many years that I realized that the reason why I felt so lonely when Dexter and I had arguments. I struggled with an issue of abandonment from my childhood.
As a child I was often teased, bullied and ostracized by my peers and so-called friends. This happened from pre-school all the way until high school. This often left me feeling lonely, angry, rejected, and distrusting of others. This anger and bitterness, and unforgiveness stuck with me for many years.
And as a result, these emotions played a large part in the downfall of many of my relationships, (even as a Christian), until I made a decision to give my pain to Jesus.
This wasn’t an overnight process. I often felt like the victim because I felt mistreated, and I didn’t learn how to build strong relationships until I was much older.
The Voice of Truth vs. The Voices of Your Past: Whose Voice Shouts Louder?
On my journey toward healing, there were a lot of tears, anger, and playing the blame game within my marriage.
But as I began to reach out to Jesus I allowed Him to tell me who I was instead of listening to the voices of my past. I realized that my husband wasn’t my enemy. And I realized that even though he went silent at times when we disagreed on something, it didn’t mean he stopped loving me. He just needed some space and time to process his thoughts.
For so many women emotions can cause them to feel lonely and ultimately make mistakes and decisions that could hinder their marriage relationship.
It’s so important for us as women to learn who God says we are, instead of listening to the negative voices from your past.
For you it may have been bullying. It may have been an absentee father or an abusive ex-boyfriend or ex-husband. But don’t allow the people of your past to define you and dictate how your life will be today.
Remember that Jesus is in the boat of your heart, and He is waiting for you to turn to Him to receive the love and validation that only He alone can give you. He will never leave you or forsake you, no matter what you do or say.
When you feel like you’re alone, always remember that Jesus is there with His hand stretched wide waiting for you to grab it and open your heart to Him.
Just take time to reach out to Him.
Tiffany Godfrey is a relationship coach for women who offers relationship coaching tools to help women grow in their marriages. She is also the author of numerous books and articles including, The Top 12 Mistakes Married Women Make: And How to Avoid Them! She’s the co-founder of the site: Relationship Missionaries. Learn more about relationship coaching and get a 20-minute coaching session at no cost!
Thanks for that warning, Tiffany, and for your honesty about your own struggles!
Have you found that your past has influenced your decisions about your marriage today–for the worse? Let’s talk in the comments!