How to Cope With Loneliness & Depression in a Marriage

by Barb Nefer

You can feel lonely even when you are married. Grace Communion International says marital loneliness affects men as often as it affects women. A spouse working long hours or a decrease in communication can be contributing factors. Loneliness in a marriage often leads to depression.

Identify specific examples of how and why you feel lonely and depressed. For example, your spouse might be absent too frequently. You may feel your spouse ignores you, or you feel communication is poor when you are together. Separate interests may be keeping you apart.

Make a list of those examples, including as many specifics as possible. Such specifics might include: "My wife worked late at least three nights every week for the last month. At least once a week I ask her to spend time with me, and she refuses. Instead, she spends most of the evening on the phone with her friends."

Have a discussion with your spouse, using the list to keep you objectively on target. Avoid causing your spouse to become defensive. Instead of saying, "It's your fault that I'm lonely and depressed," own your own feelings by saying, "I have been feeling lonely and depressed lately." As you discuss the list, explain that you believe the specific items are contributing to your feelings.

Ask your spouse if he or she agrees that your viewpoint is valid. Instead of immediately demanding changes (which might make your spouse defensive), listen to your mate's viewpoint. Reflect what he or she is saying to you, to be sure you understand it correctly. An example of reflecting is, "So, what I hear you saying to me is...."

When your spouse has given his or her viewpoint, ask for suggestions on solutions. Your spouse may have identified his or her own set of problems, so include those in the discussion. If coming up with solutions is a team effort, your spouse will be more emotionally invested in those solutions and be more likely to follow through. If you make any promises to address the issues your spouse identified, be prepared to follow through.

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  • If your spouse is unable to make necessary changes, change your focus to yourself. You cannot force someone to change, but you can change your reaction to their behavior. Instead of becoming paralyzed with depression, find other ways to ease your loneliness. Connect with friends and socialize more. Find a hobby, take a class or do something else that gets you out with other people.


  • Sometimes loneliness and depression in a marriage are signs of bigger problems. If your spouse is unwilling to make any changes, he or she may not be a good match for you. Ask your spouse to attend counseling, and if he or she is not willing, reconsider whether you want to stay in the relationship for the long term.

About the Author

Based in Kissimmee, Fla., Barb Nefer is a freelance writer with over 20 years of experience. She is a mental health counselor, finance coach and travel agency owner. Her work has appeared in such magazines as "The Writer" and "Grit" and she authored the book, "So You Want to Be a Counselor."