According to statistics, half of all newly married couples are doomed to failure in the first five years of their marriage. The apparent harmony of marriage can sometimes hide the reality of growing estrangement. Since this can be the prelude to separation, an immediate and intelligent response is required.

The two of them look very good, judging by appearances. They’ve been together for four or five years and everything seemed fine at first, but what’s bothering them now is the estrangement in their relationship lately. Nothing is the way it used to be, and reality no longer seems to match the dream they wanted to fulfil, the desire for their whole life to be filled with all that is nice and good.

They cast glances at each other and shrug helplessly. They can’t understand how they could have grown so distant from each other. It used to be so wonderful! Flowers, smiles, kindness, plans and promises, expectations and hopes, fairytale honeymoons, days of celebration and, above all, romantic evenings. Now they are just two strangers living at the same address. Sometimes they sleep in the same room, sometimes not. How quickly their house of cards has collapsed on their still confused hearts! They both struggle with their inability to free themselves from the burden of loneliness and silence. Was Chekhov right when he wrote that those who fear loneliness should not marry?

The ice age of family life

Without realising it, the two have already joined the statistics of those doomed to divorce. In line with almost universally accepted statistics, Mugur Ciumăgeanu stated in an article[1] that “50% of couples seem to break up within the first five years of marriage,” a phenomenon that in some cases is linked to loneliness within the couple, which Ciumăgeanu considers “a very bizarre phenomenon.”

The feeling of loneliness is a mixture of many other feelings—disorientation, isolation, nervousness, depression and exhaustion—but the feeling that drives it is extreme anxiety.

The Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez proved to be a true visionary when, after much hesitation and searching, he titled the novel that would win him the Nobel Prize in Literature, One Hundred Years of Solitude. It is a novel about loneliness and pain lived under the cover of apparent glamour and fame. The saga of six generations of the Buendia family is revealed to the reader and is, in fact, an allegory of the human condition. The Aurelianos, one of the branches of the Buendia family, show an unnatural tendency towards silence, isolation, and loneliness. The yellow butterfly of retreat and introversion flaps its soft, mystery-laden wings not only over the legendary Colombian city of Macondo and the centuries-old Buendia family, especially over the Aurelianos, but its sad flight has been shaking the air of the whole world for more than a hundred years. “Thousands of articles have been written about One Hundred Years of Solitude,” said Márquez, but “nobody has touched upon what really interested me in writing the book, that is, the idea that solitude is the opposite of solidarity; I believe it is the essence of the book.”

Igor and Ewa[2], Brazilian author Paulo Coelho’s characters, seem made for each other and yet suddenly find themselves in two different worlds. The estrangement between them comes slowly and unexpectedly, at a time of economic prosperity for their family. The man throws himself into an almost cosmic struggle to recover his love. What follows is a grim and painful search for lost happiness. The road is paved with lives and worlds destroyed and trampled, but the victor still cannot recover his dream of happiness so abruptly and mercilessly interrupted. He remains forever alone.

A submerged pain

The pain of family alienation is all the greater because the loneliness hidden in the home is not subject to systematic research and is therefore difficult to capture in statistics. It seems that people are much more willing to talk about their material deprivations and even the dynamics of intimate life than to allow prying eyes to penetrate the world of secret loneliness at home. Marital alienation is not visible to the naked eye. It is born and develops in silence. Most of the time, even those directly involved are unaware of the evil that has begun to gnaw at the roots of joy and goodness in the home.

From normality to damage

Everyone agrees that the need for solitude is legitimate and beneficial. Throughout the ages, monuments have been erected to glorify solitude. Sages, monks and recluses have excelled in extolling the moral value and fruits of solitude and contemplation, but when this withdrawal goes beyond the norm, those around begin to suffer as a confirmation, sometimes rather belatedly, that it is not good for people to be alone.

The alarm bells ring when, in a couple, the shared activities become increasingly fewer and the time for communication and interaction becomes shortened, while personal projects tend to take up more and more space. Marital loneliness is on the verge of taking over the estate of domestic life.

The low intensity of moments of intimacy may be another indication of the growing state of isolation and alienation. When there are moments of confession, affection, and good jokes, the loneliness is alleviated, but when such moments become less frequent, it is time for a much-needed reset. As the partners seek various scientific explanations and rationales for the lack of joy and excitement of being together, the sour tide of estrangement swells through the words. As the couple struggles to find and enumerate the benefits of excessive loneliness, its rancid coldness increasingly permeates the air of the home. By the time the husband and wife look back wistfully on the good old days, it is clear that the beauty of those days has already been lost. A preemptive response is needed before the good old days become a fading memory.

Occupational risks and then some

There are jobs that require a lot of time and energy, jobs where project deadlines create constant mental pressure. Unsurprisingly, these are some of the highest paid jobs, but the extra money doesn’t come close to making up for the loss of family relationships. Divorce rates of up to 85% are common in the families of seafarers and truck drivers. And the families of those who work against the clock in television or print media are no better off. In some cases, one spouse’s free time does not coincide with the other’s, dramatically reducing the opportunity to spend time together. Sometimes children and a home are the only things they have in common. In general, any activity or occupation that takes up more time and energy than usual puts a strain on the marital relationship, which is deprived of the necessary attention and resources. Unfair competition arises, with serious consequences for the long-term quality of family life.

Boredom, exhaustion, and silence: secret agents of loneliness

Boredom. If you have to carry out the same routine tasks every day, and especially if you lack the imagination to do the same thing in a different or more interesting way, it does not take long before you lose interest in your work. If this happens at work, the job can be changed. But when routine sets in at home, things get complicated. Boredom tends to move from one area to another, and soon nothing inspires the vital enthusiasm that makes life worth living. Apathy gradually follows chronic boredom, increasing the risk of isolation and retreat into loneliness.

Exhaustion. The tragic outcome of severing relationships with those around us is almost certain when the resources at our disposal are not able to replenish themselves in a convenient way because we do not allow ourselves enough time for rest and recreation. We suddenly find ourselves powerless, unable to cope with demands and requests, and in danger of abandoning the struggle with ourselves and the legitimate struggle for affirmation and decent survival. Chronic fatigue not only affects our physical and mental health, but also contributes to a deterioration in the quality of family relationships. Dissatisfaction accumulates and develops on both sides. And a major crisis is only a step away. Often, partners who end up divorcing because of loneliness take this decision because, after introspection and analysis of the situation, they come to the conclusion that they are not getting as much as they need from their partner.

Silence. The worst aspect of loneliness in a couple is the lack of communication, be it verbal or any other form. Silence is more painful and damaging than arguing. When we disagree with each other in an inappropriate way, the consequences are usually harsh and painful. But it is a better option because it doesn’t allow resentment to build up around the silent one. When one partner is silent, the other doesn’t know how to react and doesn’t understand what is expected of them. The idea that one partner should know or intuit what the other is doing is often misguided. All it takes is a little willpower to ward off the silent demon that tries to possess the language so necessary for true balance and communication in the family.

The eternal love that heals and restores

What brings two different people together, uniting them in the most intimate details of life and awakening their hope that all will be well, is eternal love, which fills the emptiness of the soul and activates the most mysterious resources of the human being. We are able to experience this joy and giving in ways we never thought possible, but this is not by chance or a game of fate. Love is what remains after the aura of romance and poeticism has faded from each couple’s new beginning. Love is what holds the raft together when the cold, harsh storms of selfishness and neglect blow in. It finds ways and means to make the wilderness bloom when no one can see a way out or hope for salvation. True love does not think of the benefits or advantages it can gain from the other, but is eager to do them good without asking or expecting anything in return. Of course, such a philosophy of life can be distorted by abuse, but it has many chances of leading to a happy life together.

Although it is often the case that love comes to a dead end, we must not remain entrenched in the view that it is all over. Love is capable of rising from its own ashes. For this to happen, it is necessary for one partner to take a step towards the other. The surprise of reciprocal steps from the other side can come at any time, for love never dies.

Guide to preventing loneliness in the family

  1. Organise your life so that you can spend as much time together as possible.
  2. Seek quality dialogue.
  3. Tell each other about your day’s events and activities.
  4. Don’t forget to show your appreciation with words.
  5. If one of you is not feeling well, the other should try to cheer him or her up.
  6. Plan as many activities together as you can.
  7. Give each other meaningful surprises and gifts.
  8. Use every excuse and opportunity for physical contact.
  9. Celebrate events with good humour and imagination.
  10. Look for new ways to experience the joy of being together.
[1]“Mugur Ciumăgeanu, ‘Is there loneliness in a couple?’, .”
[2]“Paulo Coelho, ‘The Winner Stands Alone’, HarperOne, 2021.”

“Mugur Ciumăgeanu, ‘Is there loneliness in a couple?’, .”
“Paulo Coelho, ‘The Winner Stands Alone’, HarperOne, 2021.”