Evelyn Makena @evemake-g
Clara Mwihaki struggled to stifle the emotions that welled up her chest. She was at the supermarket queue several months ago when she noticed a couple around their mid-50s exchange loving side long glances, occasionally breaking into laughter. “In that one moment, I remembered what I had been missing out on.
I felt lonely,” she says. She has been married for the past nine years. Yet that incident served as a profound realisation of how disconnected they had grown over the years.
Clara who is in her mid-30s could hardly remember the last meaningful conversation they had as a couple or the last time they genuinely complimented each other and how lately physical touch between them had been relegated to a bare minimum like when they brushed past each other while brushing teeth at the sink. “How did we get here?” she sighs.
Life happened and they got consumed in taking care of their two children, growing their careers, settled into the rythm and gradually started drifting apart. Then one day she realised that she had lost touch with the man who was meant to be her close companion.
Loneliness in marriage sounds quite ironical, especially considering that companionship is one of the perks of being in the institution. “A marriage partner is meant to be a constant partner. Someone you do life with,” says Mary Muriithi, a relationship coach.
Yet somehow, married people often find themselves lacking physical and emotional intimacy with their spouses. This is because loneliness is determined by the subjective quality of a relationship, not objective quantity, nor just by whether we happen to be living with a spouse.
According to Mary, the transition from happy and close to distance and lonely does not happen in a day. It is a slow and often a subtle process. “It’s the small things that we take for granted that contribute to the rift.
Communication breakdown, minimal or no physical touch, limited quality time due to busy schedules, all slowly stifle the element of friendship in a marriage and condemn a couple to loneliness. Key among these factors is communication. Relationships are built on communication.
Sharing information about what is going on in your life even about the mundane things you did during the day keeps the bond strong,” adds Mary.
t some point, discussions about mutual interests, world events, and goals and dreams cease entirely and conversations become purely transactional—“We need milk,” “Your mother called,” or “Did you remember to pay the bill?”—or focused exclusively on parenting.
Also, if you find yourself, happy around other people, but you have nothing to talk about with your spouse, that’s a red flag. Physical intimacy such as a hug, kiss and sex plays a role in how a couple connects.
“As a couple, ask yourselves the last time you were physically intimate and if you cannot rememb er, then there is a problem,” she says.
The disconnect slowly manifests itself in things such as forgotten anniversaries and birthdays, close ended communication and generally feeling stuck in a rut. It’s not all gloom, however, for couples who find themselves caught up in this situation. “Keep constant communication.
I am also a big advocate for date nights, at least once in a fortnight to constantly rekindle the bond,” she says. Doing favours for one another goes a long way in building and maintaining friendship in marriage. It’s important to find out how your spouse likes to be loved, which is referred to as their love language.
It could be touch, quality time, acts of service, words of affirmation or gifts. Whichever it is, be intentional about doing it for them,” says Mary. Reminiscing about good shared memories, especially about what drew you together helps reconnect and keep loneliness at bay.