If you’ve been married for a while, maybe you’ve had this thought. It’s an unsettling thought that you’ve probably not said out loud, but it’s one you can’t seem to escape. The thought is…
“I’m not satisfied with my marriage.”
In the last Normal Marriage post, we looked at the tendency for spouses to drift apart. This post addresses the next level. Here, we move from looking at marital drifting to marital dissatisfaction.
DISSATISFACTION IN MARRIAGE
The thought that you’re not satisfied in marriage can rock you to your core. We all go into marriage believing things should be happy and easy. And when it’s not, we…
- Wonder if we married the right person.
- Feel like there’s something wrong with us.
- Blame our spouse.
- Become depressed or resentful.
Now, let’s make something clear from the start. You’re going to be dissatisfied with your marriage from time to time. Despite what you see on social media, no one has the perfect, easy marriage. As a pastoral counselor, I see a lot of marriages that look great on the outside, but behind closed doors, the marriage is not as perfect as it looks. So know that there are times when marriage won’t be satisfying.
WHAT CAUSES DISSATISFACTION IN MARRIAGE?
If I asked you, “What’s causing you to be dissatisfied with your marriage?” you may think, “That’s easy. I’m dissatisfied with my marriage because of my spouse!”
Nice try, but it’s not that easy. There can be a lot of reasons for your dissatisfaction, and not all of them are about your spouse. Obviously, issues of abuse, or adultery, or abandonment will cause major dissatisfaction in a marriage. But we’re not talking about anything that drastic. Here are a few of the more “normal” reasons why you might be dissatisfied with your marriage:
The two of you are human.
You married a flawed person. Oh, and by the way…they did too! We make mistakes at times. We’re self-absorbed at times. We get tunnel vision. We are a work in progress. (But don’t go and tell your spouse they’re “a piece of work.” That’s not what I meant!) You’re not perfect and neither is your spouse. This, in itself, can create dissatisfaction in marriage.
The two of you are different.
When people come to me for premarital counseling, I ask them what attracted them to each other. They always say it’s was because they were so much alike. But the truth is, we’re attracted more by our differences than our similarities. It’s our differences that make the relationship exciting and attractive. But here’s the problem…opposites attract before the “I do’s” and they aggravate after the “I do’s.” (Can I get an Amen?!)
But you need those differences because they compliment and shore up your weakness. Those differences that aggravate you are actually a gift to you…if you’re willing to humble yourself and accept it.
Life throws you curves.
We all want to get married and live happily ever after. But life tends to plant land mines all along our road to happily ever after. Job losses, health issues, wayward children, expenses we didn’t expect, and a host of other things can explode without warning. And the stress and strain they put on a marriage can create a lot of dissatisfaction.
Your expectations are unrealistic.
Our expectations for marriage are often unrealistic…especially in the beginning. We expect our spouse to continue to be just as enraptured with us as they were when we were dating. We expect them to always listen to us, always want to have sex with us, continue to bring us cards and flowers, be interested in everything we’re interested in, and in general see life the way we see it. These unrealistic expectations get us in trouble and keep us from being satisfied in marriage.
I’m not saying you should expect the worst. I’m just saying your expectations need to be realistic.
Hallmark movies lie to you.
Ok, maybe this is just my aversion to Hallmark movies, but it goes along with unrealistic expectations. If you compare yourself to what you see in Hallmark movies (or other media,) you will start to base your expectations on that…and you will be dissatisfied.
The point is, no marriage is perfect, and there’s a lot of perfectly normal and natural reasons spouses experience dissatisfaction in their marriage.
Does this mean that you’re just doomed to be dissatisfied in your marriage? Not at all! But it does mean that you (not just your spouse) will have to make some changes.
What changes? We’ll cover that in the next Normal Marriage post…so stay tuned!