When disappointing becomes destructive
By: Leslie Vernick
I always tell my coaching clients, no one gets all 52 cards in a deck. What I mean by that is there is no “perfect” man or spouse. You might marry a man that is naturally handy around the house and can fix anything that’s broken, but he won’t read a book or have a deep discussion with you. Other woman marry men who are capable of wonderfully deep conversations on all kinds of topics, but when the toilet overflows and is leaking its foul contents through their ceiling light onto their dining room table, he has no clue how to fix it.
In other words, sooner or later you will be disappointed in the person you married. Sooner or later your husband will fail to live up to your dreams, your desires or your expectations. This happens in all marriages, and its part of learning how to love and live with a real person rather than your ideal fantasy person. When you fail to navigate this disappointment wisely, you can turn an ordinary imperfect marriage into something destructive to you, to your husband, to your children and to your marriage.
Many of us have grown up with an unrealistic picture of what love and marriage are supposed to look like. We’ve been educated through Hollywood and romance novels that when you find the right person, he will fulfill you and make you happy. He will be your soul mate and, if you’ve found Mr. Right, marriage will be easy. Hollywood touts when you have enough sexual passion and romance, everything else in a relationship will easily fall into place. It’s all a lie. No one person can fulfill us or love us perfectly. Marriage is hard work because we’re naturally self-centered and want our way. Sexual passion, although a wonderful thing, wears thin when the bills are left unpaid, the kids are up all night, the toilet doesn’t work or you can’t have a decent discussion about anything meaningful.
A while back I was doing a radio program on How to be Happy in a C + Marriage. Many women responded. They shared story after story of how they turned their C+ marriage into a D- marriage by their endless complaints, criticism and cajoling their husband’s weaknesses. Continually pointing out our husband’s flaws usually doesn’t motivate him to improve or make the marriage better. More often, it causes him to withdraw from you and shut down. He may even lob a few verbal bombs back at you in retaliation. One of the most common complaints I hear from the men I counsel and coach is “I can never make her happy, so I’ve stopped trying.”
Instead of aiming for an A+ marriage, aim for A+ moments. Learn to appreciate a wonderful evening together, a good talk while walking in the park or a shared prayer. Every marriage needs those A+ moments, but when we expect those times to be all the time, we set ourselves up for chronic disappointment. Most marriages will also have a few D- moments, but if we can handle them wisely and apply the balm of repentance and forgiveness, we can move through them without destroying our marriage. If you’re having trouble with this, you might want to check out my book, How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong at http://www.leslievernick.com/store/books/.
How have you learned to handle the disappointments of marriage?