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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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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