If you are married, you have experienced unmet expectations in your marriage. We all have. Expectations begin long before the wedding day.
When my husband and I were engaged, I met up with a friend my parents’ age who had been married for 25 years. She was very enthusiastic. She told me they had a great marriage and that sex is really important. “We have been married 25 years and we still have sex three times a week” she glowingly told me.
She went on to tell me some significant piece of marital advice, but I missed it. I got stuck on her comment. As I sat there listening my mind was screaming, “You ONLY have sex three times a week and you think that is GOOD?!” While anecdotes about expectations are funny, the reality of unmet expectations is not funny, especially when it comes to sexual expectations. If this is your situation, you are not alone.
For some the frustration is lack of intimacy, for others it may be meeting the demands of your spouse. Some couples have expectations about who will initiate. In some marriages one spouse wants to follow a schedule while for the other, spontaneity rules.
When you got married you probably didn’t expect to have such a “natural” thing become such a big issue. Libido difference is a very real issue in real marriages and therefore, expectations need to be dealt with; if they are not then disappointment, frustration, and hurt will become the norm in your marriage and cause even greater problems.
If this sounds familiar, here are a couple ideas for you:
Talk About It
If you are feeling hurt, angry or left out you need to talk to your spouse about that. Timing is key. Don’t wait until you’ve initiated sex, were turned down and then blow-up. Wait until emotions are calm, you are not tired and you will not be interrupted. Try not to sound defensive or angry.
Give your spouse a heads up on the coming conversation. This gives them a chance to think through the issue and ensure that they won’t feel ambushed by the discussion. For example, you could say, “when can we talk about _______?”. Or “tonight after the kids are settled I’d like to talk about ______.”
Find a Mentor
There are many ways to find help if the two of you are having a hard time working it out. Find a couple who has been married longer than you have and who has a marriage you admire. Ask them to mentor you in your relationship. Having someone walk alongside you makes such a difference. You won’t feel so alone, and having an outside perspective really helps you both.
There is one caution: don’t just talk to whoever will listen, choose wisely and choose someone you admire and want to be like. Choose someone safe who you can trust to keep your confidences. It is important to talk through your feelings, but you need to use wisdom and not blab your problems to everyone, this will cause more hurt between the two of you.
Find books, podcasts, chats, or articles that will help as you work through your situation. Make sure the source is reliable and trustworthy. This topic is very common and there is help out there if you look for it. Don’t let busyness or embarrassment keep you from getting the help you need; your marriage is important and needs to be a priority.
(This five-session, video-on-demand series, includes the session: Sex – How Can Something So Good Be So Complicated?)