You may feel as though your marriage is a war zone rather than a place of safety, comfort, and solitude. The war you experience isn’t the type that requires gun fire and actual armed danger, but the silent explosions that strike discomfort, hopelessness, and soul wrenching emotions on the inside.
If this sounds like you, read more to find out what Kashina Harris, MA, CIT, says about how to work on increasing emotional affection at home and strengthening your marriage.
In this Article:
About the Author
Married, Desperate, and Lonely
War and Marriage
Some people, like my friends Sam and Heather, feel as though their marriage is a war zone rather than a place of safety, comfort, and solitude. The war they experience isn’t the type that requires gun fire and actual armed danger, but the silent explosions that strike discomfort, hopelessness, and soul wrenching emotions on the inside.
Though war and marriage are strikingly different concepts, they both put people in a situation to be vulnerable, which comes at a cost of uncertainty. If you are thinking to yourself, “Why am I the only person in a lonely and desperate place in my marriage?”, you are NOT alone. Startling statistics show that over 60% of people who are married reported having feelings of loneliness (Winch,G., Psychology Today).
Where are these struggling couples? They are fighting a war. They are not truly happy with their marriage. They are in hiding, as this type of internal war is easy to disguise and confusing. Social media is not a place to see couples openly share their hearts about their inability to connect, nor do they arrive at church wearing their battle wounds. Could you imagine a post that reads, “Lonely and desperate in my marriage for 10 years now, Happy Anniversary” with a picture of a couple as the wife engages on her phone and the husband is watching television across the room…Yikes!!
Lonely at Home?
Sam often described church and family gatherings as the times when he felt the most loved by Heather. The happiness and smiling was something rarely achievable behind closed doors. Heather felt reassured of Sam’s love for her by his gestures such as holding hands, kissing her forehead, almost as if he was proclaiming his love for her to the whole world. When alone, however, Sam and Heather experience distance and loneliness.
Although, it might appear at first glance that relationships without raised voices, destructive conversations and physical abuse are successful, this can be deceiving. The silence ignites indifference, holding them back from their true desire to be fully connected with each other. The distance is masked by life’s distractions. Sue Johnson, in her book Hold Me Tight, explained it this way, “When marriages fail, it is not increasing conflict that is the cause, it is decreasing affection and emotional responsiveness…” Learning to connect with your spouse can look very different for each couple, but below are three common ways to begin the process. My hope is these three suggestions are memorable, so forgive me for the slightly cheesy headings.
1. Let It all Hang Out!
If this step sounds uncomfortable, it might get more so when it is actually referring to your feelings, emotions, needs, and desires. Start with being real and open with yourself, allowing yourself to explore the thoughts, pain and grief you are experiencing. When you discover your feelings, share them with your spouse, who would otherwise not know. It will open a window for them to see YOU experiencing YOUR marriage.
The difficulty with being so vulnerable is the lack of responsiveness you might get from your spouse. It is a risk to have your spouse respond to your heart cry in a way that communicates “they won’t be there for you”. Partners can feel rejected, insecure, misunderstood or frustration. In baseball, not every strike thrown by the pitcher is hit by the batter and even fewer are home run status. The pitcher does their best, regardless of the batters ability to hit the ball successfully. In the same sense, share your feelings because it is your next step to provide understanding and healing.
2. EXTRA EXTRA Read All About It
Once the emotions are out in the open, do your homework to find the next course of action. These hidden feelings, not only have an impact on you, but have overflowed into other areas and people in your life. Look for resources such as books, counselors, marriage conferences and scriptures that teach a biblical standpoint on marriage. DON’T forget to study your spouse. Study them with intensity and passion, listening and working to understanding their emotions.This will require a disconnect from media and other distractions.
3. Press On
If you knew a way to get your laundry to wash itself, you would do it. In the same way, if these steps were easy to implement between you and your spouse, my guess is that you would have already done them. Sharing your feelings should be an ongoing process, but it can also trigger your fears, causing disagreements and arguing. In this moment, press on and fight the battle waging war inside you and your marriage.
These three weapons are not an as needed accessory for the silent war we face in our marriages, instead they force our emotions into action. Dr. Henry McCloud and James Townsend, in their book Boundaries explain ” we change our behavior when the pain of staying the same becomes greater and then pain of change.”
- McCloud, H & Townsend, J. Boundaries in Marriage. Grand Rapids, MI : Zondervan Publishing House, ©1999
- Johnson, Sue. Hold Me Tight. Brilliance Audio, April 15, 2014
- Winch, Guy. Together but Still Lonely: 3 ways to connect with the distant person next to you on the couch. Psychology Today Posted Jun 28, 2013
Join our weekly newsletter to have a better life
Take the first step towards a better tomorrow, today.
Start Your Journey
Learn about how our counseling services work and how to get started.