"When marrying, ask yourself this question: Do you believe that you will be able to converse well with this person into your old age? Everything else in marriage is transitory."
- Friedrich Nietzsche, German Philosopher -
When you marry, you marry because you think the other person will add to your life. You think that the other person will provide companionship, acceptance, and love. Yet, there are many, many people who are married in name only. They didn't start out that way, but they ended up that way. How does this happen?
It happens because promises are broken, because people hide their true selves from one another while courting or early in the marriage, and because people change. But mostly it happens because one of them or maybe both of them start taking the other for granted. They don't put into the relationship the same energy they started it with. If couples treated each other with the same level of love, respect, and interest that they had when they first met and married, neither of them would ever feel loneliness again.
Even when one of the marriage partners has a memory disease, such as dementia, if the kindness and care is still there between them, the ill partner does better. If the other partner ignores or just does the duty of a spouse, the ill partner does not do so well. If the ill partner feels alone while also going through the dementia or other illness, it compounds their separation from reality.
I have known two cases that demonstrate this quite well. One woman had full blown Alzheimer's, was loved by family, never left alone, never put in a nursing home and was cherished. She did well, lived longer than expected and was easier to manage. The other woman was ill with dementia and while her husband was alive, did okay. When her husband passed away and she was alone, their was no one to fill that gap. Her children were too busy with their own lives to give her the attention she needed and thus, she suffered more, was harder to manage, and eventually died alone while living in a nursing home.
Married couples need to take care of each other and that is more than just paying the electric bill or buying food. It's more than sleeping in the same house. There needs to be that extra level of concern that is expressed by asking questions and showing interest: Have you been to the doctor lately, honey? Let's go out tonight for fun, where would you like to go? How did your day go? Let's watch a movie together, I'll pop the corn. What movie would you like?
It's also talking about significant things and expressing thoughts. Not just listening and then saying yes or no at the appropriate times. It's being an active participant in the conversation. Maybe it's politics, maybe it's the grown children or the grandchildren, maybe it's where do we want to go on vacation next year? Many couples go through days and days without saying a word to each other, except the casual - would you like some coffee? breakfast?
Sometimes when asked a question, instead of responding with yes or no, they only give a sound, like "well," or "ugh". The communication is dying and no one is willing to give it CPR. This is death to a marriage and creates loneliness where love should live.
When you commit to someone and begin to build a home with them, you should continue to invest in that relationship at the same level that you did when dating. Slacking off is cruel and dangerous. There are many marriages that end in later years of life and after many, many years of marriage simply because communication between the partners has died. There is no stimulation, no interaction, no growth. One day you may be the one left alone clinging to either good memories of your spouse or regrets of time wasted.
"Marriage is not a noun; it's a verb.
It isn't something you get, it's something you do.
It's the way you love your partner every day."
- Barbara De Angelis
Just because we grow older doesn't mean we should forget those things we loved when we were younger. It doesn't mean that we just occupy space in the same house together but share nothing. You can be married and still love each other a great deal and still be lonely.
Sometimes that type of loneliness is the hardest to take.
Are you married and still have good communication with your spouse? Are you divorced and was a lack of communication the problem? Are you surrounded by family and friends and still feel a lone?