When You’re Not Getting What You Want in Marriage

As a pastoral counselor, I’m expected to draw on Scripture and good clinical practices in order to help couples improve their marriage. But the truth is, you can find great nuggets of marital wisdom in a variety of places. The other day, I found one of those nuggets of marital wisdom on my iTunes playlist.

As the playlist was playing in the background, I suddenly heard Mic Jagger and the Rolling Stones belting out these words…

“You can’t always get what you want.”

Now I admit, Mick Jagger is not the first person that comes to my mind when I think of marital wisdom, but those words seem very applicable to marriage.

Though most everyone would agree that you can’t always get what you want, most marital problems could be boiled down to one or both spouses not getting what they want.

  • They’re not getting the help they want.
  • They’re not getting the fun they want.
  • They’re not getting the sex they want.
  • They’re not getting the time they want.
  • They’re not getting the respect they want.
  • They’re not getting the conversation they want.
  • They’re not getting the encouragement they want.

And the list goes on.

Now I’m not saying that these things are not important and shouldn’t be a part of a good marriage, but the simple truth is none of us will get everything we want in marriage. That’s why Jagger goes on to say…

“But if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need.”

Your spouse is not suppose to be everything you want. They’re suppose to be everything you need. And before you say, “Eactly, and they’re not being what I need,” make sure you’re not confusing your wants with your needs.

Yes, we all want life to go smoothly and easily, and we think that life will be smooth and easy if things just go the way we want. But that’s not necessarily what we need. We need to grow and become the person we should be, and that doesn’t always come from a smooth and easy life.

We all have things in our life and personality that need some work. As a person of faith, I believe God wants to use our spouse to help us with those things. In much the same way a carpenter uses sandpaper to smooth and shape wood, God can use the irritating things about our spouse to smooth and shape us as a person.

This is not a message we want to hear, but it’s a message we need to hear.

Let me stop here and say this… I am not talking about a spouse that is inflicting you with abandonment, or abuse, or adultery. This is not something you need or deserve, and in each of these cases, your first response is not to learn from them, but to set down boundaries with that spouse that require them to correct their behaviors before they can be reconciled to you.

But in other more “normal” situations of marriage where you feel like your spouse is not giving you what you want, you need to stop and ask yourself these questions:

  • Is this truly a marriage violation, or is it just a marriage irritation?
  • Is this something that could keep us from our golden years, or is it something we should laugh about in our golden years?
  • If I just found out that my spouse had a terminal illness, would this thing to be as important to me?
  • Could it be the problem lies just as much with me as with them? If so what do I need to do?
  • Do others see this as as big a problem as I do?
  • If this never changed, could we still have a happy life and a happy marriage?

There are probably other questions you could ask, but these will help you start separating mountains from mole hills and wants from needs.

Too many people are unhappy in the marriage, because they can’t get what they want. But I believe Mick Jagger was right. If we try… sometimes we just might find we’ve got what we need.

Can you think of some other questions you could ask yourself to distinguish between what you want and what you need? If so, leave them in the comment section so the rest of us can benefit.

Copyright © 2017 Bret Legg

2 thoughts on “When You’re Not Getting What You Want in Marriage”

  1. I enjoyed reading this post! Now that I know you have a blog…I’m certain I’ll enjoy reading many of your other posts! Thank you for all that you do!


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