For many people, the best part of entering into a marriage or long-term relationship is knowing that they have someone to come home to, be comfortable around, and confide in. We often believe that, when we’ve found someone to love and be loved by, we won’t ever have to worry about loneliness again. But unfortunately, a sense of isolation can still affect people in relationships, even when they spend a lot of time with their partner.

There have been plenty of psychological studies showing that married people tend to be happier and healthier than single people, but one recent study from the University of Wisconsin found that marriage is one of the most significant sources of long-term social stress, and when this stress is left unchecked, it can lead to symptoms of depression, such as loneliness.

Why does this happen? In part, it may be due to a failure of communication. If one person begins experiencing chronic stress or feelings of sadness but doesn’t feel like they can tell their partner, they will become more disconnected in their relationship. Once someone begins feeling disconnected from their partner, they’re more likely to hide more of their thoughts and feelings, only making the situation worse.

Tips to Overcome Disconnection

The good news is that many people who do experience feelings of loneliness in their relationship are often able to overcome their disconnection—if they and their partner are willing to make the effort to reconnect. If you’re feeling lonely in your relationship, here are a few things you can try.

Talk to your partner about your emotional state. If a lack of communication is the source of the problem, it’s important to sit down and talk to your partner about how you’ve been feeling. If you’ve been hiding your feelings of loneliness, your partner may not have even realized anything was wrong. By being direct and honest about how you are feeling, you can begin to resolve the issue.

When talking, don’t blame your partner for your feelings. Don’t accuse your partner of causing your loneliness by saying things like, “You’ve upset me by working so late”. Instead of framing your loneliness as one person’s fault, look for concrete ways you and your partner can work together to address the problem. For example, you might say something like, “Since I haven’t been able to spend much time with you on weeknights, I’d really like to spend more time together this weekend.”

Look for other social outlets. While people often describe committing to their partner as “marrying their best friend”, it’s important that you don’t turn your partner into your only source of socialization. Set aside time to spend time with your platonic friends, and consider participating in a class or meet-up group with people who share common interests.

Schedule a Portland marriage counseling session. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your loneliness and don’t know how to start addressing the issue, talk to your partner about scheduling a session or attending a workshop at the Portland Relationship Center. We want to help give you and your partner the tools necessary to reconnect and strengthen your relationship.