Disappointment is a common feeling that absolutely everyone experiences. And we all know many people who experience disappointment in marriage – in fact you might be one of them. Kevin and I have been married for 23 years, which has left lots of opportunities to be disappointed. However, I find that the longer we are married, the less disappointed I feel because of a few things that we are doing wisely, and regularly!
So just a quick back story- I met Kevin when I was 18, we started dating at 19, and we were married at 21. Some couples grow apart, but we decided to grow up together! We have lived a lot of life together in the last 20+ years of being married! With 4 kids, 11 moves, and a few career changes later – we are still united, excited and ready for more! But we didn’t get here overnight, or by accident, or by luck either. Marriage takes SO MUCH WORK, good communication, trust, and working on yourself.
So let’s talk about something that will kill a marriage – and even your joy for life. And that’s disappointment. And you may be partially responsible for the disappointment you are dealing with.
There’s a lot in life that is disappointing, and challenging. In marriage, you are often traveling unchartered territories – with another inexperienced traveler. Whether it’s parenting, careers, losing loved ones, moving, pivoting, and so on and so on. There’s a lot going on at the same time as your marriage. The first thing you have to get right are your expectations! Disappointment comes because we have an expectation of something – and it’s not met. You go to watch a movie that you heard was amazing, and it turns out to be a complete waste of your time and the $45 you spent on a drink and popcorn. Let’s look at a few common areas that married couples struggle with disappointment.
Disappointment with gifts.
Gift giving is a seemingly innocuous, yet very common source of disappointment in many people’s marriages! I would say Kevin and I are very practical people. But I still like a little romance and thoughtfulness. One of our first Christmases together, Kevin got me a gift that he thought was both practical and thoughtful – a tennis ball holder.
I’ll let you catch your breath. That’s right. A tennis ball holder!
But I am aware that I set my expectations too high for those first Christmases together as poor college students. So now I want you to think about your expectations for gifts. Are they realistic for your life stage? A 10 day cruise may not work well if you have a lot of little kids at home, but there will be long cruises in your future! Just not right now. Also, are they realistic for your budget? Sift through your expectations and see if you are the one setting yourself up for disappointment!
You don’t have to tell your spouse, or others, exactly what to get you as gifts. However, having a clear conversation about what constitutes a good gift in your eyes is helpful! Do you feel loved through a heartfelt card? Maybe a special and romantic date is how you feel cherished? Be clear on your wants, and especially on your needs. Every great marriage has strong communication as a pillar.
Disappointment in the bedroom
Ooo. This is a touchy subject. Literally! This has nothing to do with performance or attractiveness or any of the things that we commonly attribute to having a ‘great sex life’. Have you ever felt disappointment in your sex life? Or maybe you are still dealing with this? You are not the only one. But what is at the root of that disappointment?
The bedroom is another place that requires so much communication, and a clear idea of what everyone’s expectations are! Does one person want to have sex everyday, while the other is happy with 2-3 times a week? And keep in mind that it’s not always the man who stereotypically wants to have sex more often than the woman!
There are so many reasons why one or both of you are feeling disappointed in the bedroom. Maybe it’s a low sex drive, which is closely related to your overall health. (And if you need to talk to someone about your health and lifestyle, I know a guy!) Maybe it’s your own negative body image. Which I am telling you right now – your spouse does not have those same negative thoughts about Your body!
Sex in marriage is such a taboo subject – but it shouldn’t be! Talk about this with your spouse. Read books about it together. We read Shauti Feldhahn’s “For Men Only” and “For Women Only”, and both were eye-opening to how men and women deal with so many things in life. Especially in the bedroom. But don’t forget that intimacy and trust are at the core of having a great sex life, so keep working on your relationship, and the sex will improve!
Dealing with disappointment
For us, we are believers. We know that not everyone is. But we have felt the most tremendous freedom from disappointment in life due to our faith in the Lord, and the knowledge of his salvation. It takes intentionality, and a desire to improve, and grow in every area of life. This is also true of your relationship with God. Time with God keeps me grounded, and it keeps me grateful! And gratitude is another way of keeping disappointment in life at bay.
If you struggle with disappointment and don’t find you have much to be grateful for, I encourage you to write it all out. Write down all the things that you feel disappointed with. All of it! Look at the list. So many of those things may not be in your control to change – but how you deal with all of those disappointing things IS in your control! You are in control of your mindset. Choose to not let these disappointments continue to take hold of your heart and your outlook on life! Because I guarantee that these things are weighing you down and impacting your life, and relationships!
And if simply making a list, and changing your mindset isn’t working – we are all for seeking professional help! We have seen counselors for many different issues in our lives, and we are thankful for trained professionals who help others for a living! Another huge thing to remember while dealing with disappointment in marriage is that you are not alone! Marriage is hard for everyone – not just you!
So friend, don’t walk this road alone. Join a small group, or create a tribe of other couples that you respect and can live life with. Call a mentor, or someone who has been married for longer than you! Seek advice. Then, do the things people tell you to do! Community and communication is so very important. Especially in marriage.