What if you didn’t have love? What would you do? Would you give up on the world and everyone in it, or would you keep looking until you found it? These are questions that Anna asked herself over and over for many years. Yes, years—not days, weeks or months. She felt like the loneliest married person alive.
Anna’s past relationships made her feel special or good about herself. She always felt like something was missing; a connection that made her feel safe and loved. They were all nice at first, and did the right things, but after a while the new wore off, and they would get comfortable. Comfortable always meant they would forget that the small things meant more than the special occasion gifts ever would, and that a simple act like opening a door or a thank you were appreciated. Other times it was more serious things like drinking and drugs, which she got away from as quickly as possible.
When Anna reconnected with her current husband the relationship started as a friendship which was very different from any of the others. She had never been friends with another man before without them wanting something in return. He was kind and silly; he made her laugh and went out of his way to do sweet things for her. The things he would do were drive an hour out of his way to leave a card on her car or to stop in and say hello. Anna was so smitten, but was so afraid that if she showed it things would change. They helped each other through some really hard situations in the beginning of their relationship, and it brought them very close together. Eventually they married and things changed somewhat, but that was to be expected, because the relationship changed. Anna was still very much in love with him and she couldn’t see life without him; they were the best of friends, but they were growing more and more disappointed with the relationship. They had two children, both from previous marriages, and this made being alone hard; they didn’t go on dates anymore. With one full time child it was hard to be a couple at times. Anna noticed things started to change again; her husband started to forget about her and the little things that matter most. Again, the relationship changed and so did he. He forgot to open the door, say thank you, and those cards started to disappear.
As time passed Anna could feel the marriage changing even more; they were growing further and further apart. They hardly spoken about anything other than the day to day or necessary conversations. Anna tried to share her feelings with him, and it always seemed to blow up in her face. He never seemed to want to talk, or he always wanted to think about it and come back to the conversation later. Anna suggested journaling their feelings for the other to read, self help books, and asked for his suggestions. Nothing worked, they just couldn’t come to a compromise on an approach to resolve the issues, nor could they resolve them. He suggested counseling but she refused, because she felt he wouldn’t talk to her so what would he say to a therapist. The relationship continued to change in other ways; they now lived next door to Anna’s parents, because they needed help due to age-related illnesses. But their relationship stayed the same in others; the lack of communication is still the same.
Anna recently bought another self-help book that isn’t focused on changing the marriage, but changing the person. She asked him before she purchased it to make sure he would commit to participating, and he agreed; he’s successfully completely the first chapter and hasn’t looked at it again. Anna is so disappointed that he has failed her again but doesn’t know what to do. Every time he says he will participate or commit to doing something constructive, he drops the ball. Just like all his unfinished projects, he’s left Anna feeling forgotten and lonely.
How can a person be married to their best friend and feel like the loneliest human alive? They still don’t talk unless they have to. Anna is tired of initiating pointless conversations; nothing gets resolved and she never feels better afterwards. How can a person be committed to a relationship and not want to fully be in the relationship? That’s what she thinks about her husband most of the time. He always has something else to do when he could have a few minutes for her. In her loneliness she has so much time to think and consider all sides and options; all the what ifs are constantly eating away at her. Anna has thought about leaving, but truly believes that the relationship is worth repairing, even though she is at a loss as to how. She thinks that counseling would be worth a shot at this point since it’s the only thing she hasn’t tried. Anna wonders when the loneliness will end.