How to deal with loneliness in a relationship? Listen to this song by Bonnie Raitt about the contours of loneliness.
How the hell can a person
Go to work in the morning
And come home in the evening
And have nothing to say”
Angel From Montgomery, written by John Prine. Sung by Bonnie Raitt
Kelly was so lonely in her relationship with Ned. The sex had stopped. His tax accounting job took him away from the home for 14 hours a day. But when tax season ended, Ned’s time around the house felt even more painful. They sat in the same room watching a video. Or reading different books. Or in different rooms until one of them decided to go to bed, silently.
Most of the time, Kelly just distracted herself. She’d visit with friends, or cruising the internet. But sometimes the silence was too deafening. She’d pick a fight with Ned over the stupidest things.
Many people battle feeling lonely in a relationship. Sometimes fights start just because a spouse is so darn lonely. Better to fight than to bear the silence. For Kelly it would be how he loaded the dishwasher or the fact that he didn’t pick up his clothes. And he’d respond by complaining about some dumb, trivial thing she had done in return. It got each of them nowhere.
But even fighting when you suffer a feeling of loneliness, however, can take up too much energy. Bonnie Raitt sings: “ain’t done nothing since I woke up today...” she has so little energy.
The lyrics are reminiscing not about the good times this woman has had in her relationship, but on the better times she imagines having with an old lover. His positive qualities seem grander. His drawbacks, smaller.
“Weren’t much to look at, just a free ramblin’ man.”
She will spend time and re-write history, like a lot of despairing spouses. Even watching a movie will be no distraction to the heavy weight of living in a lonely marriage.
In this song, our wife hopes for an “angel,” any miracle: … ”that I can hold on to,” because she’s stopped embracing her “old man,” physically, emotionally or psychologically. She’s trying to forget how depressed she is. “To believe in this livin’ is just a hard way to go.”
And if this continues, the marriage will continue to lessen in importance until the relationship doesn’t hold the same meaning, while the dreams of her former relationship strengthen.
She has kept her dreams (“thunder”) and her passions (“desire”) but fears that if she were to have made these things real, they would have “burned down this old house a long time ago.” So she lives privately, in her own thoughts. She fantasizes.
She settles for a poster of “an old rodeo” that reminds her of the one that got away.
How very sad. Loneliness is a sad state of affairs.
The song is full of the pathos I see in my office at the start of couples counseling.
For many of my clients, this loneliness drives them to extra-marital affairs. Affairs try to burn off this depression while, keeping their families intact. However, when discovered, like lightening, it burns down the house. Kelly started to dream about her high school sweetheart when she saw his name pop up on Facebook. It was a powerful lift for her. And it absorbed her lonely hours.
Her husband Ned had turned to work-a-holism. In overwork, the partner convinces themselves that they are really working for the family, but their reluctance to return home after the end of a long day tells a different story: they are in pain. At least working allows them to feel needed and useful.
Others turn to drinking or drugging. They start to feel less and less. They don’t feel wanted so they don’t want to feel at all. Drinking and drugging are efforts to numb the pain. An effort to distract themselves from the reminders that, they too, or are “another child that’s grown old…”Or don t feel at all.
Don’t give up if you are full of loneliness in a relationship. Loneliness doesn’t have to have the last word. Your relationship doesn’t have to end because you are lonely. At Couples Therapy Inc. we can teach you have to deal with loneliness in a relationship by teaching both couples how to communicate with each other on a deeper, more meaningful level. They don’t need to change their personalities. You can learn to talk from your heart about past hurts and become closer. And learn to stay closer by actions you can take every day. relationship doesn.
You don’t have to “love” having long, emotional conversations. Neither has to be perfect. They simply have to learn basic skills, face into the fact that they ARE lonely, and start talking again.
You can re-direct that passion and desire, and share your dreams with your spouse, once again, instead of picking a fight or look fondly at “what might have been.”
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Dr. K is the President and CEO of Couples Therapy Inc. She maintains her online couples therapy and sex therapy practice for couples in Massachusetts, Florida, Arizona and California. She is a Gottman Certified Couples Therapist, has advanced training in Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy and sex therapist. She conducts in-person and online couples therapy intensives.
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