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Disappointment In Marriage: Here’s How to Get Unstuck NOW…

Fresh starts evoke excitement, hope, and renewed faith.  The start of a new season, the beginning of a new calendar year, or opening day at the stadium allows us to fantasize about countless possibilities that lie ahead.

Marriage is synonymous with new beginnings and as bride and groom confidently state “I do”, they start to dreamingly scribble across the blank slate.

But, what happens when wedded bliss is more like wedded misery?  What occurs when hopes and expectations culminate in underwhelming disappointment?

Causes of Disappointment in Marriage

Spouses can feel disappointed and unfulfilled in their marriages for a variety of reasons.  Intimacy and communication can be lacking, financial issues can interfere, and ineffective mechanisms of coping can greatly impact the overall caliber and strength of a marriage.

Cause #1:  Lack of Intimacy

Lack of Intimacy Causing Disappointment in Marriage

Intimacy and communication are the cornerstones of a healthy marriage.  As a couple excitedly gets to know each other during courtship and prior to marriage, communication is constant, intimacy is at its zenith, and the couple is euphorically in love.

Once the excitement of the wedding is over and when the mechanical nature of married life kicks in, intimacy and communication can diminish and severely plummet.

An individual who was used to undivided attention and to physical and emotional intimacy can be wholly disappointed when they find that the cell phone consistently beats them out for their spouse’s attention, or as they watch their spouse roll over instead of cuddling to sleep.

Cause #2:  Financial Insecurity

A predictable line often scribbled onto the blank slate of a newlywed is financial security.  Couples have high hopes for their jobs, careers, and financial status.  They dream of big houses, lavish vacations, and children wanting for nothing.

Disappointment occurs when a marriage does not produce the desired level of financial security. Spouses can lose jobs, change careers, fail to finish schooling, or get passed up on that promotion that they were counting on.

Money is not everything, but inevitably has great impact on social activities one can partake in, dwellings that can be afforded, and vacation spots that can be frequented.

Cause #3: Ineffective Coping Mechanisms

Disappointment in Marriage Caused by Ineffective Coping Mechanisms

Coping skills are essential to catching and fielding life’s cruelest curveballs.  The only constant in life is change, which can occur quickly and when least expected.

Loved ones will pass away, illnesses can be diagnosed, and infertility can crush one’s dreams of starting a family.  Individuals are most effective in coping when they are strongest and at their best.  But what happens when you are emotionally tired, lost, or lonely?

Ineffective coping mechanisms can lead to great disappointment in a marriage.  Spouses can possess and employ poor coping mechanisms, such as alcoholism, drug addiction, infidelity, and running away from problems instead of staying to face them.

What to do When Your Spouse Disappoints You

Realistically speaking, individuals should spend less time considering if their spouse might disappointment them, and instead strategize for what to do when their spouse disappoints them.

Humans are imperfect and make mistakes, thus leading to imminent disappointment from time to time.

When your spouse disappoints, there are several things that you can do to cope with your biggest disappointments, including communicating them with your spouse and modifying your expectations.

Tip for Dealing with Disappointment #1:  Communicate Discontent

Married Couple Communicating Discontent

Often, married couples erroneously believe that their spouses know exactly what they are thinking, or that their spouses can read their minds.

Unfortunately, the majority of us does not possess psychic abilities and will be unable to detect disappointments in our spouse if they are not verbalized.

If you are disappointed with your spouse, utilize assertive and respectful communication to make them aware of your frustrations and confidently state your needs and desires.

Tip for Dealing With Disappointment #2:  Modify expectations

Sometimes, we tend to set the bar too high, ultimately setting ourselves or others up for failure.  If your spouse cannot reasonably meet your expectations, it is important to consider if your expectations are in fact reasonable and attainable.  If they are not realistic, make them more achievable for your spouse.

What to do When Your Spouse is Disappointed With You

Disappointed Spouses

As relationships are a two way street, it is also important to consider what to do, not if, but when the day comes where you disappoint your spouse.  It is critical to listen and to be open to their constructive criticism and feedback.

Tip for Dealing With Disappointment #1:  Active Listening

Active listening occurs when your spouse has your undivided attention and is afforded the opportunity to speak without interruption.

If your spouse is disappointed with you or your actions, it is important to hear them out without defensiveness or interruption.  Even if you do not agree with their feelings or reasons for disappointment, you must always respect them.

Tip for Dealing With Disappointment #2:  Constructive Criticism

It can be difficult for an individual to absorb critique, but it is imperative to be open to constructive criticism.

Although a potentially humbling experience, hearing constructive criticism will allow you to learn from your mistakes and to grow, both individually and within your marriage.


The likelihood is low that all hopes, wishes, and dreams written across your blank slate at the beginning of marriage will be fulfilled.  Disappointments, failures, and unreasonable expectations are a part of life.

Perhaps your combined income will not be six figures.  Maybe you will not be afforded as many opportunities per week to be physically intimate as you originally thought.  Perchance, your spouse falls apart instead of comforting you at a loved one’s funeral.

The fact of the matter is that you will disappoint others and they will disappoint you.  The key to upwards movement and growth in a marriage is dealing with disappointments in an effective and healthy manner.  Ensuring an atmosphere of open communication is essential to ensuring an ongoing positive marital experience.

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Tracy Smith, LPC, NCC, ACS

Tracy Smith, LPC, NCC, ACS is a Licensed Professional Counselor in New Jersey, a Nationally Certified Counselor, an Approved Clinical Supervisor, and a mental health freelance writer. Tracy has fourteen years of clinical and supervisory experience in a variety of mental health settings and levels of care.