I have been married to my husband for many years now, and overall it has been a very good relationship.
We have also enjoyed being parents together, but now our children are getting close to becoming independent, I am beginning to worry about what things will be like when we are on our own again.
In the beginning, I used to say that my husband and I were soulmates, really close and intimate, but these days I am closer to feeling alone as if we are living separate lives. And worry that I will be really unhappy once the children leave home.
Many people feel alone in a relationship, even one that has gone well for many years. This is because they are not getting the intimacy and companionship they expected from their partner.
Perhaps when you are lying in bed together, you do not feel able to touch your husband? Or your conversations are friendly enough, but you do not feel heard, especially when trying to raise issues that are important to you.
There are many ways in which this can happen. One or both of you may be suffering from depression for example. Or your careers are taking you in different directions. Or trust has gone, perhaps because of infidelity. Or communication has broken down. Slowly the walls have grown up between you, as one misunderstanding leads to another.
But the root of the problem is usually unrealistic expectations. Maybe you believe that your relationship should be meeting all of your needs, all of the time. So when it does not you are disappointed. Naturally, you need the special intimacy that only a spouse can give, but you also need friends, family, professional colleagues and people who share your interests.
That feeling of being alone won’t improve unless you take positive action. So start sharing your feelings more with your husband. Try to use ‘I’ statements; like ‘I do not feel heard’, rather than ‘you’ statements like, ‘You do not listen to me’. ‘You’ statements can feel like an attack, while ‘I’ statements invite empathy.
Thinking about your past may also help you understand why you feel alone. Because our relationship expectations are based on how we felt as a child. So if your parents were distant, or you felt excluded from your family, for example by being sent to boarding school, you are more likely to feel alone as an adult.
It is particularly important to have friends who you can discuss things with that interest you but not your husband. Then you can stop worrying about not talking about them with him!
And stop resenting the things he enjoys doing that do not interest you. Feeling alone does not mean that your relationship is failing. It is a powerful signal that you need to enrich your life. Both inside and outside your marriage.
All the best,