Most of us have found ourselves at some point in life flying solo. The first time is usually after you have left your family of origin and are out in the world working or studying. You have your coworkers and friends around you and you are busy creating a life for yourself in society. You are alone, but not particularly lonely.
Then you meet someone… and a love interest/relationship develops. You bond. You become a couple and you marry, whether formally or not. You do everything together and you are mutually supportive. You are no longer alone and you certainly are not lonely.
But then something often happens. It may be that he shifts his focus away from you and back to his career. It may be that you have a baby and unconsciously direct all your focus to your child. It may be that he uses alcohol to medicate some personal pain, and while physically present, is emotionally absent.
Life can sneak up on you, and then one day one of you realizes you feel the loneliest you have ever felt. Who among us, except the very young, has not been in that dark place at some time or other?
This leads to the question, is it possible to live your lives in such a way that you can avoid loneliness in a marriage relationship?
The answer lies in something you learned back in the days when you were flying solo in your career and were among friends. You were alone, but not lonely. At that time you were developing your identity–who you were, what you were good at, what you liked and disliked, where you were going in life.
What you may have allowed in the passion of a new marriage is the partial merging of your two identities. Mutual support and interdependence may have slipped into codependency. Then when the bumps and turns of life came along, you didn’t know who you were anymore.
If you’re entering a marriage relationship, whether your first or a remarriage, it is important that both of you do so with a strong sense of personal identity and an intention to maintain that identity. Maintain your identity separate from your partner’s. Maintain a network of friends. Maintain your career if possible. Maintain your interests and passions. Keep on talking and listening at the feeling level as well as the thinking level. Share experiences and talk about them. Frequently review together your expectations of yourselves and each other.
Marriage can be a wonderful partnership, but if you approach it as a solution to all your problems, you may find yourself in the loneliest place on earth.