Being lonely is a frightening threat to more and more people in our world today. John Cacioppo, professor in the field of social neuroscience at the University of Chicago, has studied the topic of loneliness. His studies, published in the Psychological Bulletin, show that loneliness exists apart from the number of social contacts a person has. A Facebook account with thousands of contacts doesn’t mean the person isn’t lonely. Moreover, it is possible to feel lonely in a crowd or set of friends, as loneliness is not something physical, but an intense feeling of social isolation.
Cacioppo claims that the brain looks different in people who feel lonely versus people who don’t. He and his team found that the lonely brain had a weakened neural response to positive stimuli. It means that positive events, social contacts, and happy images don’t register in the lonely brain in the same way they do in the brain of the person who doesn’t feel lonely. Additionally, in order to move away from this feeling people often end up with some of the Top hotel Babes Den Haag as well.
Cacioppo studied mice, and he found that loneliness led to increased aggression and withdrawal, and in the long run, deterioration of the brain. Other negative consequences of loneliness are a lowered function of our immune system, an increased risk of cardiovascular problems, and a raised risk of anxiety and depression. So we can conclude that loneliness leads to a lot of negative issues in a person’s life, physically, emotionally, and mentally.
Marriage offers no protection from feelings of loneliness. Other studies have shown that an estimation of 20% of the general population experience chronic loneliness. 62,5% of these people are married and lived with their spouses.
Loneliness often distorts our self-image, and as such, the relationships we have. We may perceive other people as less caring and committed than what is true, and as such, we don’t feel contentment in the relationship. In the attempt to protect ourselves from more hurt, we can easily start to be suspicious and coldhearted, and as such miss out when our spouse actually shows us affection. This usually pushes our spouse further away.
Loneliness among married couples often occurs over a period of time. We may feel grieved by the distance and sense of disconnection that slowly increases as the years go by. The quality and depth of conversations declines, and becomes a pure transaction of information such as, “Your dad called” or “Did you pay the rent?” We can also easily be occupied with routines that help us avoid interaction such as watching TV and playing computer games.
“I feel lonely in our marriage! What should I do?” A marriage where one or both spouses feel lonely is like an overgrown garden. Perhaps the garden used to be full of fragrant flowers, newly cut grass, and well-trimmed bushes, but now there’s only dry weed everywhere. You may feel the same way in your marriage. You and your spouse haven’t looked after your marriage, so your relationship is “overgrown” and full of “weeds.” So what do you do now? You need to start to work hard on getting rid of the weed, re-plant, water, fertilize and give time and space for new growth. This will require practice and patience, but will sooner or later bring forth a harvest. Here are a few things you can do:
- Start by getting rid of the “weed.”
Don’t wait for your partner to start; start yourself. If you feel lonely in your marriage, chances are your partner feels the same way. Acknowledge the “weed” in your own life such as annoying habits, unkind comments, and selfish behavior, and avoid them.
- Change the way you talk.
Try to initiate conversations about other things than just a transaction of information. Ask about your spouse’s view on something and genuinely listen to the response. Don’t expect a sudden change, but it may take a little time.
- Initiate experiences you can do together.
Ask whether your spouse would like to watch a movie together or simply sit down with him/her as he/she watches something. Perhaps you can suggest cooking together or buying tickets for your spouse’s favorite sports game or movie. This may be less “threatening” than a restaurant visit if you felt distanced in your connection for a prolonged time.
- Show little acts of love.
Give a gentle but short pet on the back when passing by, or try putting your hand on your spouse’s if you sit on the sofa watching TV together. Take things slowly so it doesn’t feel awkward for either one of you.
- Put yourself in your spouse’s shoes.
Take a few minutes to imagine what it would be like to be your spouse. What do you think he/she feels/thinks and longs for? Attempt to understand your spouse more and what he/she feels and thinks.
- Be patient.
It often takes time to change a relationship and start to feel that “team-spirit” again in between you both. Be patient, because action brings a reaction sooner or later.
Don’t be afraid to face the naked truth if you belong to those that feel lonely (if you’re not sure, do our evaluation test. Like Charles Friend once said, “The most painful truth can be the most important truth. Accept it, it can change your life.” As we face the truth about our circumstances, and ourselves, it would be the first step to see a change in that particular area. Strength and courage to you as you face loneliness and as you set your heart and hands to work towards re-connecting afresh with your beloved spouse!