Emily Conley, author at Scribbles from Emily, shares with us today the lessons she has learned from loneliness in marriage. What she shares was very relateable to me, especially when my husband and I moved across country to serve as missionaries. Feeling alone is never an easy thing to experience, but I love how Emily highlights the blessings that come from such a thing. Enjoy!
“I’m so alone.”
Tears stung my eyes, and two drops escaped. I wiped them away, but they fell even faster.
Did that thought ever cross your mind after your marriage?
Did you ever feel alone, abandoned?
I met Brian the summer before my freshman year and his junior year of college at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. We started dating the first month of classes, and one year later, he proposed. After a nine month engagement, we were married on a perfect fairytale June day.
Real life set in fast: after the week of our honeymoon, we packed our college apartments, our belongings from our parents homes, our whole lives. We weren’t moving across town, or to a new apartment in Ames. We were moving 1,518 miles, to a new climate, a new city, and a new home in Phoenix, Arizona.
The temperature when we arrived was quite different from what we were used to in Iowa – a 118 sizzling degrees. But more than just the temperature would take getting used to.
I went from full classes, hallways, lecture halls, football games, Bible studies twice a week, bustling cafeterias, one on one discipling, college ministry, weekly activities, coffee dates, and hanging out with friends, all in addition to weekly church services… to online classes, knowing one family in the entire city, and once a week church services. I went from being immersed in community to near isolation.
Gradually we started meeting more people and building relationships. We met a young couple at church, and I met a single girl who was close to my age that shared several interests.
Then, she got accepted into a Christian college…in Minnesota. I was excited for her, but sad for myself. Not too long after that, we discovered that our young married friends were also moving to help start a church plant.
Over time, I had the following conversation with God:
“I feel so alone,” I cried. “Why is this happening to me God? Why is this happening to us?”
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
“But where’s the hope and future in loneliness?” I questioned.
“I will never leave you or forsake you.” (Deut. 31:6)
Can anything good come from the excruciating pain of loneliness?
During that conversation with God, I realized loneliness does have blessings! Through experiencing loneliness, I’d grown in two important ways.
First, I became best friends with my husband. Marriage isn’t all about romance, it also needs friendship. Enjoying being together. Doing things together. Doing things for each other. We try to have a weekly date night, but we sometimes go on spur of the moment outings to the Ford dealership and browse cars, or to the outdoor mall and browse clothes. We hang out with Chinese food and a movie, or sit and read together at a bookstore. We do what friends would do.
Spending time together as friends has enriched our marriage more than just “romantic” things alone. Liking Brian as a person in addition to loving him as my husband makes romance more meaningful and powerful. But I realized that as try as he might, Brian can never totally understand me. He can never completely fill my need for love and companionship.
Second, I became better friends with God. Like any other relationship, knowing God requires spending quality time together.
God never promised that marriage would make us happy, or be the cure to our loneliness. He said, “I will never leave your or forsake you.” Loneliness drives us into the arms of Jesus. People will disappoint us, unfriend us, forget to call us back, or move away.
But in each of us, there is an intentional God-sized hole. It’s very specific; it’s not just a love-sized hole. Only God can fill the hole completely, and that’s why He made it.
How can we overcome the negative thoughts and feelings of loneliness?
Here are lessons I learned from being lonely in marriage:
1. Trust God. Trust that God gave you the spouse he did for a reason. And trust his timing to bring you answers to prayer, whether it be in the form of some new friends, or a better relationship with your spouse.
2. To help with the above step, spend quality time in the Word, renewing your mind, reminding yourself of God’s character and promises.
3. Ask for help. Reach out to a wise woman who can mentor you and just be there for you. Finding a mentor has blessed my marriage in so many ways!
4. Be a good friend to your spouse. That means no talking behind his back, not being hurtfully critical or sarcastic, and spending time together having fun. Maybe next time your husband is playing video games by himself, sit with him and watch. If offers to let you play, go for it, but don’t intrude. Visit him in the garage while he’s working, and just hang out and watch, with or without saying a word.
5. Be a good friend to all those around you, coworkers, church members, and family members that you might not think of as “friends,” at least at first. “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24.
What do you do to combat feelings of loneliness? Share your suggestions in the comments!
Please considering following me: I blog at Scribbles from Emily (scribblesfromemily.com) about finding the beauty in everyday, and also at Newlywed’s Bliss (newlywedsbliss.com), where the honeymoon never has to end.