Living Faith

Married and Frustrated!

Expectations are not being met

Willie & Elaine Oliver
Married and Frustrated!

Q. We’ve been married for about six years. However, it feels like instead of understanding each other better and feeling more like a cohesive unit we are growing apart. I expected that by now we would have worked out the kinks in our marriage. Yet, these days it feels like we are steadily growing apart. We disagree on almost everything. What do you think is happening to us? What can we do to get back on track?

A. Marriage is one of the most challenging relationships to manage, because it’s the closest relationship for most people. And, while opposites tend to attract before marriage, opposites tend to repel after marriage.

To avoid drifting apart in marriage you must be purposeful each day about growing closer together through the power of God. In marriage couples are either growing apart or growing closer. To grow apart in marriage you don’t need to do anything. To grow closer, you must intentionally break the following patterns in your marriage relationship.  

Expectations are not being met. This is a frequent reality in marriage. Couples marry expecting certain things to happen. When expectations are not met, one often feels disappointed and alienated from one’s spouse. To change this you must share your expectations with each other to create mutual understanding between you.

You are keeping score. If you keep tabs on how often you perform a task you believe your spouse should do or how often your spouse forgets to do something you’ve asked them to do, you will likely feel annoyed with your marriage. To keep this from happening you must change your self-talk. If you concentrate on what you can give to your spouse, rather than on what you can get from your spouse, you will change the reality of your relationship.

You are keeping each other out. It is easy to think the worse about your partner and not give him or her the benefit of the doubt. This will keep you angry and apart. However, if you spend more time listening to each other with empathy, you will be more likely to behave like you are on the same team and protect your marriage from harm.

You live in a win-lose reality. If you approach marriage like rivals rather than teammates, your marriage will always lose. Yet, if you change your mind set to a win-win approach and you each find out what feels like a “win” for the other, your relationship can be transformed to a win-win marriage relationship.

You see your differences as a deficit. If you see your differences as a glass that is half empty, rather than a glass that is half full, you will always see your relationship in deficit. But if you accept each other’s differences as strengths and make them work in your favor, your marriage will begin to feel like you are on the best team.

The Bible says: “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).

We are praying for you and your marriage.  

*Bible references are from the English Standard Version.

Willie & Elaine Oliver