Lorraine Kerr-Atkinson M.S. NCC, LPC

9090 S. Ridgeline Blvd, Suite 220 Littleton, CO 80129

Serving Highlands Ranch


Why Feeling Lonely in a Marriage Is Bad For Your Health

Sometimes people feel lonely in their marriage. While feeling lonely can happen occasionally in the best of marriages, researchers have discovered that long-term loneliness negatively affects health, happiness, and longevity.

I saw a Ted Talk recently where the speaker, Robert Waldinger (2015), talked about a long-term study that has followed a group of men for 75 years called the Harvard Study of Adult Development.

Researchers discovered that loneliness and high conflict marriages without much affection lead to poorer physical health, shorter lives, and even decreased brain function. In addition, people that were in unhappy relationships at age 80 reported that on the days that they had physical pain, that pain was “magnified by the emotional pain.” (Waldinger, 2015)

If you are looking at your relationship and feeling scared as you read the above words, take heart. Researchers noted that “bickering” couples were not necessarily at risk. What mattered were that the couples felt “they could really count on the other.” (Waldinger, 2015).

Helping couples get to the point where they can reach for the other in times of difficulty is one of the major goals of Emotional Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) and what I strive for with my couples. There is a path to increased happiness with your spouse, and the rewards are many.

The Good News

The good news is that quality relationships not only keep us happier and healthier but they help us live longer. Researcher found that the people who were the most satisfied with their relationships at age 50 were the healthiest at age 80. Furthermore, people who were “happily partnered” in their 80s reported that their mood “stayed just as happy” on the days that they had physical pain. That’s not all, People in “securely attached” relationships “stayed sharper longer.” (Waldinger, 2015)

The above Ted Talk touched my heart and fueled my passion and determination for working with couples using Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT). Taking the time and effort to create a fulfilling partnership can reap significant rewards in our overall health and happiness.


Waldinger, R. (2015, November). Robert Waldinger: What makes a good life lessons from the longest study on happiness [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/robert_waldinger_what_makes_a_good_life_lessons_from_the_longest_study_on_happiness