I’m curious: What did you think about marriage when you were a little kid? What did you envision for yourself?
Someone to have fun and laugh with everyday? Always holding hands and locking eyes? Did you picture a wife who would cook and clean? Or did you envision a husband who would be home for dinner with the kids every night?
Ladies and Gents, not only is today’s world a lot different that the one we grew up in, but, I’m here to tell you something else. Whatever that little kid wanted for marriage, is still what you want, at some level.
If your deep desires for marriage aren’t what you are experiencing, then it’s undoubtedly affecting your connection. You might not know it’s happening, but it’s eating away at your ability to be content with your spouse, and it’s stirring up some bitterness that you aren’t even aware of. How can you tell?
Take note of how you think or feel during interactions with your spouse throughout the day. The ones that make you feel a little twinge of negativity are the ones we care about in this instance. Are you upset because there are dishes in the sink again? What about the last time a bill wasn’t paid on time and the late fee ate you up inside? Or that time when a promise was made to your kids and he/she didn’t come through?
If you spend time thinking about and sorting through the thoughts that happen when disappointment shows up, you’ll really start to understand yourself and your motives a little better. And, you’ll be able to catch it earlier and react better in the future. (Visit the Strong Self portion of this blog for more on this).
Making it Personal
For me, when I was a little girl, I dreamt of a true partnership - someone to always have my back. I often felt alone, and I pictured a marriage that never felt lonely. Now, when my husband and I disagree, it creates distance. My mind would say: “see, marriage isn’t a partnership, it’s every man for himself.” And then the disagreement would turn to an actual fight or the distance would last for days - why? Because I had the current disappointment on top of 25 years of expectations that seemingly weren’t being met. (You get me, so you can see that these are just moments in time and because all rationality goes out the window when emotions are involved, I exaggerated it so it described my entire marriage instead of one situation. Healthy, I know.)
This is what our emotions and thoughts can do; they can lead us to think (and then lead us to behave), very differently than we want to.
This is all great - but what can I do about it?
First - Grieve the relationship that you pictured. It’s very important to spend time being sad, disappointed, upset etc. that things aren’t the way you thought they would be. This helps you process those feelings so that you can fully let them go. I once heard that thoughts and feelings are like birds flying overhead. They can land on you, but they’re only going to stay there as long as you let them.
Next - Express this to your spouse (in truth and with love). They don’t know what we don’t tell them. And there is a 100% chance of disappointment if you expect them to “figure it out on their own.”
It could start like this: “I want to tell you about the dreams I had for marriage when I was a kid. I don’t expect you to make it happen but I wanted to share it with you, and I want to hear yours too…”
But, what if you could make them happen?! How much more fulfilling would your relationship be? If you could put your spouse first (yes, put yourself on the back burner peeps), and try to meet their deepest desires. And he/she could try to do the same selfless act for you. Now THAT is something special.
Lastly - Embrace what your spouse does or says that makes him/her unique. Sure, there might be something significant that isn’t happening, but I am positive that there are a lot of positive things happening that you never imagined. Side note, another human was never designed to fulfill us - the famous Jerry McGuire line “you complete me” set everyone up for failure. More on this later.
Take it Further:
Last year, my husband I did a Bible study and the first question for discussion was the dream and expectations we had of what marriage would be like when we were children. Wow, did we have different answers! Which is to be expected, we are different people. BUT, what I found was mindblowing: what he dreamt of was simple and I wasn’t doing it. AND, what I expected, wasn’t what we had consistently every day. But now that we know what the other envisioned, it’s easier for us to love each other in a new way, and see if we can create the relationship that our younger hearts dreamt about. It’s certainly fun to have goals :)
I encourage you to have this conversation with your spouse tonight! The only chance you have of creating a relationship that you want, is to picture it and then share it with your spouse.
HIGHLIGHTED RESOURCE: *The Bible Study I mentioned is called “Healing a Marriage” by Jeff and Cheryl Scruggs. It's amazing, and really makes you think! It’s available on YouVersion Bible App (& I’m sure others!).