- What do you believe captures your spouse’s attention instead of you?
- Are you connected to any other couples who can hold you accountable for growing in this area of marriage?
- Is there an area of bitterness from anything you are harboring which is causing the isolation?
- Would you consider voicing your concerns and giving your spouse another opportunity to seek forgiveness?
- Do you think your spouse is harboring bitterness for something you may have done? Are you open to seeking forgiveness?
- How do you think God wants you to handle bitterness or anger in marriage?
- Can you surrender to God’s plan even if it means you will need to take responsibility and confess first?
- What do you think could bring joy and completeness in your life even if your spouse refuses to draw near to you for now?
- What is one step you can take in the right direction and how can I help you do that?
Here is a video clip with Paul David Tripp talking about isolation– from The Art of Marriage video conference:
by Jim Mitchell
There are different kinds of loneliness.
There’s physical loneliness, where I’m just basically without physical companionship. There’s emotional/relational loneliness, where I feel unheard or misunderstood, even from those closest to me and who really care for me. And there’s core, gut-level, personal loneliness, where it doesn’t matter how many people reach out to me, I still ache inside.
I’ve been pondering this last one lately… the core, gut-level loneliness that sometimes nags at me. Here are some reflections:
- No matter how the people around me adjust and attempt to meet my needs, they cannot fill certain voids. God has reserved the innermost places in my heart and soul for Himself. If I avoid Him, I’ll always feel a little bit lonely.
- I’ll most likely express my core loneliness as disappointment with others. It’s unfair to them and it keeps me from ever discovering the real culprit… that I don’t spend enough time alone with God.
- Loneliness can be a gift from God. Jesus made a habit of getting away “to a lonely place” (Mark 1:35; Luke 4:42; Matt. 14:23). It helped him block out the noise and meet with the Father in prayer. God wants to meet me there too.
- Sometimes others will lash out at me because they are not filling the emptiness with God Himself. I need to be patient with them and pray for them rather than getting offended.
- Satan would love for me to have all the relational peace and fulfillment this world has to offer if it means I never truly connect in a meaningful way with God as Jesus did.
- God may choose to deprive me of relational peace and fulfillment if it means I truly connect in a meaningful way with Him as Jesus did.
- God has created me for meaningful earthly relationships. But my job is not to avoid or lament times of loneliness. My job is to breathe deeply from His Spirit and His word.
- Marriage can soothe relational loneliness, but it can also create loneliness.
- Marriage can distract me from God or push me towards God, but it cannot replace Him.
- Parents are often lonely.
- Unanswered questions or fear/uncertainty can cause me to feel lonely. Those are times to draw near to Him.
“And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.” (Mark 1:35 ESV)
Taking it One-to-One:
- Are you feeling lonely? Why?
- Are you looking to others to fill voids only God can fill?
- Are you working hard to fix relational loneliness? Is it driving you to lash out at others unfairly?
Recommended Resources: Staying Close by Dennis and Barbara Rainey
Are you living alone—in the same home as your spouse? This award-winning book by Dennis and Barbara Rainey provides a workable strategy for defeating isolation and keeping your marriage vital and intimate. Understand the cultural and personal forces that isolate you while learning how to pull your marriage together rather than allowing it to drift apart.
Moments With You: Daily Connections for Couples by Dennis and Barbara Rainey
Married and Lonely by Dennis and Barbara Rainey
Are You Playing ‘Hide and Seek’ in Your Marriage? by Dennis Rainey
by: Heather Charlton
In 2007 we made our first move with my husband’s company, leaving behind family, friends, our first home, a state we love, and many wonderful memories. We had an 18-month-old and I was pregnant with our second child. While I thought I was prepared for the adventure this road would bring; the slow, overwhelming sense of loneliness slowly found its way in to my life. I found myself in a new community, without family, without friends, and WITH two small children. My husband was working more than usual learning a new job and I truly did feel blessed to be at home. While I am generally an adventurous person, willing to go outside my comfort zone to get involved and adapt-I admit it… struggled!
When my son was a newborn, I remember all of us-the baby, my two year old daughter, myself, and even our chocolate lab- all crowded in front of the window around 5:15 pm each day in anticipation of my husband’s arrival home from work. We would watch intently to catch the first glimpse of that white SUV turn the corner onto our street. As he approached the driveway, the dog began to bark and my daughter would cheer. As he walked up the sidewalk and opened the door, he was attacked by us all. I remember the flood of relief that came over me in that moment. I wasn’t alone.
Whatever the stage of life, we often can find ourselves lost in a sea of the ordinary and monotonous. As a stay-at-home mom, I many times felt alone and isolated. I felt trapped in my own home, no longer able to relate beyond the details of feedings, diapers, picky eating and two-year old tantrums. Each day brought more of the same. Though I found mom friends, I attended groups with other moms, I talked on the phone with other moms, I read articles and books about motherhood…there was an endless element of isolation. Though each day, my husband walked through the door and I felt hope, still there was a missing component.
Blaise Pascal said that “there is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.” Though we may feel alone and isolated, the Bible tells us that we have a Savior who knows the feeling of our every suffering, our every affliction. I discovered that in my case, the cure for isolation was more in spirit then in body. I began taking my loneliness to the One who created, me-created me for relationship with Himself.
Now in 2011, with yet another move under my belt and another in the near future, I am learning to rely on God to be my ever-present help; the one who sustains me. I can call on Him in those moments of loneliness, thank Him for my dear family, beg for creativity to break the monotony, and ask Him to provide precious community.
“I raise my eyes to the mountains, where will my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, Maker of Heaven and Earth.” Psalm 121:1-2
Taking it One-to-One:
- Do you look to other people to fill that void in your heart instead of to God?
- Do you spend time with God in prayer and in His Word? Or do you take fellowship with Him for granted?
- We are created to be in community with other people, so in what ways can you make connections with other believers?