If you’ve ever been disappointed, you know how easy it is for disappointment to derail you.
I see this with my grandchildren. They always have a list of things they want: “I want to go outside and play.” “I want to go out to eat pizza.” “I want to rent a movie.” “I want a snack.” “I want to spend the night.” If something gets in the way of what they want, it can throw them into a funk from which they have a hard time recovering.
But it’s not just children who struggle with disappointment. Many married couples struggle with disappointment. It happens when marriage is not going the way they want, and they’re thrown into a relational funk from which they have a hard time recovering. Maybe marriage is harder than they expected, or they feel they’re giving more than they’re getting in return, or marriage is not scratching that unreachable itch. Whatever the reason, disappointment settles over them like a heavy fog blocking out the sunlight.
Many things can prompt disappointment in marriage, but they tend to fall into one of four main categories:
Unrealistic Expectations. We all have expectations when we get married. We have expectations about how we will have fun, how we will spend money, how we will raise kids, how we will have sex, how we will handle chores, and how our spouse will support and encourage us. The problem is, many of our expectations are unrealistic. They’re based on our parents marriage, or how we were raised, or what we have seen in movies and media, or our own personal desires. Our expectations often fail to take into consideration our spouse or their needs and desires. All this is a recipe for disappointment.
Unexpected Effort. So many of us go into marriage thinking that our marriage should just work. We think there should be something natural and effortless about marriage. We believe that if we’re having to work hard at marriage, there must be something wrong. But this is another unrealistic expectation. The truth is, marriage is hard and requires a lot of effort and hard work. If you’re not aware of this and can’t accept it as normal, you are sure to be disappointed in marriage.
Unfulfilled Promises. We all remember when someone broke their promise to us, and how that made us feel. When you break a promise to your spouse (even a small one,) you damage their trust in you. The more you break promises, the more you damage the trust. Not keeping your promises to your spouse not only erodes their trust in you, it also is demeaning and hurtful to them. Unfulfilled promises are a sure way to breed disappointment in marriage.
Unchecked Selfishness. We are all selfish to a degree. Recently I was talking about marriage with a friend of mine, and he said to me, “Marriage is suppose to bring out the best in us.” I understood what he was trying to say, but I disagreed with him. I told him, “Actually, marriage tends to bring out the worst in us.” Given enough time, living with your spouse will bring out your selfishness and increase your disappointment in marriage.
Are you facing derailing disappointment in marriage? If so, here’s how you go about derailing disappointment…
- Realize that most of your expectations are merely preferences, not mandates. Your expectations are not standards to be met. They are just preferences to be considered, and sometimes modified for the sake of the marriage.
- Work as hard on your marriage when things are good as you would if things were bad. If you put a lot of effort into your marriage when things are good, you probably won’t have to put as much effort into it when things are tough.
- If you make a promise keep it. If for some reason you’re unable to keep your promise, apologize, explain why you can’t keep it, then explain specifically how and when you will keep your promise.
- Work harder at giving your spouse what they want than at getting what you want. I know…easier said than done. But there is no easy way to deal with selfishness. You must wrestle it to the ground daily. Here is some encouragement from Scripture to keep your selfishness in check: (Philippians 2:4) (Luke 6:31) (Ephesians. 5:1-2)
Disappointment is a part of life, but you don’t have to let disappointment derail your marriage. Taking the above steps will help you derail disappointment in your marriage.
Do you have a story of derailing disappointment? Encourage someone else by sharing it in the comments section.
Copyright © 2016 Bret A. Legg