When You Are Disappointed in Your Marriage

When You Are Disappointed in Your Marriage

You expect certain things of your spouse. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t have married them! Certain things almost go without saying: love, respect, honesty, faithfulness. Fulfilling those basic needs of a marriage relationship can, for some people, be a big enough challenge.

But sometimes you want more. You believe your spouse loves you, but it’s not enough. You crave something you’re not getting. You want adventure, intimacy, emotional connection, time, trust, help around the house, more money, children, support, more sex – something more.

Over time that sense of wanting more will create a wall between you. Your sense of disappointment will separate your heart from your spouse until you either wither up and die inside, or leave the marriage. Disappointment is a profound relationship killer.

The only way to keep “wanting more” from coming between you and your spouse is to address the problem head on. That doesn’t mean confronting or nagging your spouse! But it does mean following a well-thought-out plan to deal with the problem.

If you’re disappointed in your marriage and want more than you’re getting from your spouse, here are the steps you can take:

  1. What DO you want? You may not immediately know the answer to that question, but it’s vitally important that you think it through. And you need to be very specific with your answer. Otherwise how will you know when your spouse has given it to you? Or how will your spouse know what to give you?
    • “More money” is not helpful: “enough money for a good-quality used minivan” is helpful.
    • “More help at home” is not helpful: “taking care of dinner for the kids twice a month so I can have some personal time” is helpful.
    • “More of your time” is not helpful: “a weekend away with just you, since we haven’t done so in 2 years” is helpful.
    • “To feel more loved” is not helpful: “I miss having little notes or presents from you that make me feel special” is helpful.
  2. Assess your spouse’s ability to provide what you want. I interviewed Mary and Jack who were married after he was permanently confined to a wheelchair. For Mary to ask Jack for a vacation hiking in the mountains is neither fair nor realistic. That’s an extreme example, but you get the point. Mary did, however, badly want a child. Through special infertility treatment they were able to meet that desire. Your spouse has physical, emotional, or financial limitations just as you do.
  3. Know your love language. Wanting “more” may often mean that you don’t feel loved. Your spouse loves you, but you aren’t getting your “love cup” filled. If you want practical help and your spouse offers physical touch, you won’t feel loved. If you don’t know your love language, check out The 5 Love Languages. This may help you know what the “more” is that you really want.
  4. Assess whether this is a need your spouse cannot fulfill. No human being can completely fill up another. Two halves do not make a whole in a marriage. Healing from old emotional wounds, a sense of meaning in life, being physically present 24/7 – those deeper issues may be something only God can fulfill in your soul. Don’t demand something of another human being that only God can do.
  5. Ask clearly for what you want. I’m assuming you and your spouse are people of good will. Most people want to give their spouse what will make them happy. Plan the time and place, and simply, clearly, tell your spouse exactly what they can do to fulfill your desire for “more.” If you’ve done your homework well, this may result in significant understanding, and even joy.
  6. Maintain your commitment to your spouse. If there are issues of abuse, addiction, or infidelity, that’s a discussion for another day. Otherwise, remind yourself why you married your spouse. Pray – for yourself, your spouse, and your marriage. Show love and respect to your spouse. Don’t make your love dependent on how the other person responds to your request.
  7. You are responsible for your own attitude. Whether or not your spouse responds as you wish, whether or not you get the “more” you are looking for, remember that no one, not even your spouse, can make you feel or respond in any certain way. You can choose to find happiness in any number of ways. Find your own sources to keep your soul filled up. And this does not mean an affair! (See my post on 5 Ways to Feed Your Inner Being.)

If you feel like your spouse isn’t enough, don’t let that disappointment build. Do something about it. Make an active decision. You may find yourself happier than ever!

Your turn: How do you deal with disappointment in your marriage? Have you found ways to help your spouse give you what you need? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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  • Ron

    Well gee- All that is all good and fine. But my problems are more of a financial nature, We do not own a house, i live with my parents with two kids- sure my parents have a big house and we are well cared for but I don’t feel a thrill with my husband, he’s not successful, can barely afford our daughter’s tuition/teachers since she suffers from hyperactivty as well as a learning difficulty. He constantly blames me for this, and badgers me about ‘when will she stop needing her speech pathalogist?’ So he can save more money.

    Funny, coz to most people my husband’s father is a retired millionaire- unfortunatly that is in noway helping him out for multiple family reasons that he cannot bypass as far as I know.

    I’m used to being around men that are doing well for themselves, indulge their wives on ridiculous purchases, fly out to exotic destinations when we are so exhausted with the kids. I hear him complain about it, that if time would wind back he wouldn’t have married me because of our current state, that he hates our circumstances, that he is powerless in fixing it. That is my main turn off- I’m not physically attracted to him anymore, I despise his discarded laundry, the mess he leaves behind because in a way I see myself in that. I’m a mess he left behind, and he is so powerless in fixing it. I thought of divorce, but with the kids and the school bills, I don’t know if I could do it alone. I’ve seen kids with divorced parents and can’t twist my heart enough to give this up, I think maybe it would turn up? Maybe the kids will grow and we’d have a house for them to occupy by then? Maybe he’d finish his college degree? Maybe Things will turn out- am I wrong to think this way? Am I just being a shallow, selfish brat?

    • DrCarol

      Financial problems are certainly a frequent cause of marriage conflict. I would encourage you to look at the things you CAN control rather than the things you can’t. Nagging him certainly won’t help. Perhaps becoming creative with a way you could bring in some money yourself would improve your own self-esteem, and help you feel less dependent and more powerful in your own circumstances.