According to Psychology Today, 63% of people who say they feel lonely are currently married. Two people drive in the same car, sit at the same table, and sleep in the same bed … yet they feel worlds apart.
My colleague, Dr. Greg Smalley, discovered how lonely his wife, Erin, was after he spent a few weeks during the pandemic cooking family meals when their adult children moved home for a few months. Erin quickly wore out from trying to work and cook for the entire family. Greg agreed to take over that role and spent more time than he expected Googling recipes and rummaging through the kitchen for ingredients. Before long, he was worrying most of the day about meal prep times and wondering whether anyone would appreciate his hard work.
Until then, he’d had no idea how much pressure Erin was under. After that experience, Greg asked himself, “Does she feel alone in other areas of our marriage as well?”
How can couples break through loneliness and support each other through life?
Empathy is a meaningful place to start. Sympathy feels bad for someone. Empathy feels bad with someone and helps them carry their burden. Greg showed empathy for his wife by taking on the responsibility for family dinners.
In my own marriage, I’ve learned to have empathy for my wife by listening to her share her thoughts, her insecurities, and her fears – without passing judgment or offering solutions. More than answers, she craves being heard and understood.
Empathy connects you and your spouse at a heart level where you feel loved, understood, and valued. And when a relationship has those elements in abundance, connection and intimacy will flourish.
On our Focus on the Family Broadcast “Sharing the Load with Your Spouse,” we’re talking with Greg and Erin about how couples can serve one another and cultivate the intimacy that God intended for their relationship. Listen on your local radio station, online, on Apple Podcasts, via Google Podcasts, or on our free phone app.
Dr. Greg and Erin Smalley are co-authors of the book Reconnected: Moving from Roommates to Soulmates in Your Marriage, which is available for a gift of any amount. Visit our website or give us a call at 1-800-A-FAMILY (232-6459). If you can’t afford it, we’ll find a way to get it to you.