Silence and detachment can creep into any love relationship when communication breaks down and the walls go up. Warmth and connection turns into pain, and you’re left asking yourself “how did we get here?” When the distance becomes familiar and you miss the closeness you once shared, it’s normal to feel isolated, hurt, betrayed, and misunderstood. It’s hard to be open and vulnerable when you feel self-protective with your partner while 'walking on eggshells' and avoiding emotionally-loaded discussions that could start another argument.
I have known many people over the years that have stayed in their marriages, but have given up hope of experiencing emotional intimacy with their partner. They live together, might say “I love you” every night before going to sleep, yet will say they don’t feel their partner really knows or accepts them for who they are. They stop feeling safe to be vulnerable and ask for what they need in the relationship, not knowing how to disengage the auto-pilot function with their partner.
So what do you do with the pain of feeling lonely in your relationship? It can start with addressing those feelings and what is missing in your relationship that makes you feel that way. It's also helpful to explore what it is you and your partner each need in your relationship, and what is keeping you from discussing those things with your partner. Couples therapy can help you both move from a place of self-protection and defensiveness to opening up the channels of communication and intimacy with each other.