Loneliness NZ

Married... or de facto... and lonely

It was inevitable that the couple would ask everyone about their marriages. They had already met with the celebrant and were happy with their wedding vows… they were looking forward to having a long and happy life together… being content, like all the couples they were chatting to. Going around the table, you heard the positive chatter about romantic and promising beginnings.

… yes, of course I still remember the day as clearly as if it was yesterday…you putting the Korowai around me, the priest, our whanau…

…well ours was not ever formalised… we made some romantic promises to each other, moved in together…almost 9 years ago now…

….ours was so different …we had met only a few months before our ceremony in India… our parents arranged our marriage…

You all listened, and you knew a few would be silently envious of how “together” the other couples seemed.

But our hearts go to you; the one where no-one in the world… maybe even including your spouse or partner… would know that behind your happy façade you are feeling such loneliness. Everyday is hard… and being amongst other happy couples makes feeling lonely in your relationship even worse!

So if you are one of the many who feels lonely in a relationship, or you know of someone who feels loneliness in this way, then read on. In fact even if you suspect others might be lonely, and they stoically say they aren’t, it’s worth understanding loneliness in marriages and long term relationships better.

Scratching the surface of being lonely

Just as you might find it hard to understand how single partying people might feel lonely, it’s also hard for them to really grasp how very lonely you might be: what it’s like:

Battling to find

... anything to say, we seem to have said it all.

Remembering only

... the tough times, were we actually ever really happy?

Being rejected

... knowing she's pretending to be asleep; when did we last cuddle together?

Feeling exhausted

... at another argument; we're always bickering.

Being taken for granted

... another treat for the puppy; when did he last give me a surprise?

Being in a struggling long term relationship gives rise to many challenges with regard to feeling lonely...

… and in addition to these, you undoubtedly identify with many of the same loneliness problems that aren’t related to being together as a couple.

Prevalence of loneliness

Loneliness of one person in a marriage might be an indicator of a marriage in trouble. Not all people who are married let their partner know how lonely they are, and not all marriages in trouble end in divorce. However, divorce is a reasonable indicator that one or both of the couples had experienced some loneliness in their marriage.

A Stats NZ publication showed that couples that married in 1992 had a 1 in 5 chance of being divorced within a decade. That rose to an almost 2 in 5 chance of divorce within 25 years of getting married. 

The 2018 statistics show that the divorce rate (number of divorces per 1,000 existing marriages) was 7.7, which corresponded to the lowest annual number of divorces since 1980.

These figures do not include what is happening in the many de facto relationships of couples in New Zealand. In 2013 almost 21% of those in a partnership were in a de facto relationship. Even without having the same legal bonds of a marriage, many de facto couples might experience similar levels of loneliness when they believe their relationship is in trouble.

While we don’t have the same statistics for New Zealand, Guy Winch (American psychologist) was quoted in Psychology Today:

“Being married offers no protection from the dangers of loneliness: Studies indicate that roughly 20% of the general population suffers from chronic loneliness at any given time, and in one recent study of older adults, 62.5% of people who reported being lonely were married and living with their partner.”

Exposing loneliness

Feeling socially isolated occurs when people are not connected into their communities in a meaningful way.  Society, other people and we ourselves unwittingly contribute to loneliness.

To name a few, loneliness in a marriage might be exacerbated when:

    • Your culture makes it unacceptable to talk about what’s happening in your marriage…. there is no-one you can tell about his temper.
    • There aren’t good boundaries and agreement about how family and friends fit in… whether at the house, or going out as you did in your single days.
    • Focusing on making ends meet for your family leave you no time to be emotionally supportive as well.
    • The unresolved issues of your past are catching up with you and its affecting how you trust your partner.
    • You have different concepts of what it means to be fully committed and give each other space.
    • You didn’t have the blessing of important people in your life, so, as a couple, you are less well supported.


These are very real issues for you;
and some are not quick fixes! So despite these challenges it’s vital you actively find ways to to ensure you – and those around you – are emotionally healthy.

Exhibiting signs of being lonely

Solitude is very important for people to reflect and to come to grips with their situation. Being lonely for short periods is also not necessarily unhealthy. What we are considering is the type of loneliness which is prolonged and might be damaging to an individual’s health and wellbeing.

Some people talk about their loneliness; other’s don’t; Some might not recognise that they are actually suffering from loneliness.

When people are already lonely, having people around you that you aren’t able to connect with on a deeper level, might even make your loneliness worse.

Research has shown that when socially isolated people aren’t getting enough regular human contact that can create problems with their family members and people who they do end up talking to.

This manifests behaviour such as:


  • Making your whole life revolve entirely around your children, that taking time out for each other is such a low priority.
  • Avoiding your friends and family because you can’t hide how you feel about him, and you also can’t share.
  • Checking your partners personal messages as you are suspicious about the time your partner spends at work and texting.
  • Supressing anger with your spouse’s passive aggressive style of dealing with issues.
  • Hiding your bank account from your spouse because you think she’ll never understand why you took the savings, and you don’t want to hurt her.
  • Intimacy doesn’t feel right anymore so you’re not bothering to make any effort.

These are just the surface of the ways you might be showing signs of being lonely… and that you could recognise in others.
So where to from here?

Conquering loneliness

We appreciate…

you all have a unique story.

How long you have been lonely;  What you believe causes your particular loneliness; and what you have already tried to alleviate the loneliness.

To get to the heart of your loneliness we would like to get to know you!

Your personality, your eccentricities, and your values are all part of what makes you feel your loneliness more than some others.

Your next step

We appreciate the trust you would place in us to talk openly and frankly – so we promise no judgements – genuine empathy, respect and confidentiality.

Then when we have understood you better, we can help you move forward. Help you form better connections with your spread out communities, with your friends and your families…wherever they are in the world.

If you are ready to take the next step, click the button to get started addressing your loneliness:

People feel lonely for many reasons. To learn more about other life stage and lonely categories, select one of the coloured boxes below, or scroll down the “I’m feeling lonely” menu.

Loneliness NZ square I'm feeling lonely logo

With our help you can conquer your loneliness by taking better care of your inner self.

And we can conquer loneliness in New Zealand by better understanding and accepting each other.

So when you are ready…click here.

We look forward to hearing your view of the world!