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?!”
For some, the frustration is a lack of intimacy, for others, it may be meeting the demands of a 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 we got married we probably didn’t expect to have such a “natural thing” become such a big issue. Libido differences is a very real issue in real marriages and therefore, expectations need to be addressed; if they are not then disappointment, frustration, and hurt can easily become the norm and cause even greater problems.
If this sounds familiar, here are a couple ideas:
Talk about it. If we feel hurt, angry, or left out we need to talk to our spouse. Communication is important. Timing is key. Don’t wait until you’ve initiated sex, were turned down, and then blow-up. Wait until emotions are calm, nobody is tired, and limit interruptions. Try not to sound defensive or angry.
It’s a good idea to 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.
Caution: don’t 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 confidence. It is important to talk through your feelings and circumstances, but we need to use wisdom and not blab our problems to everyone, this can cause more hurt between the two of you. It’s a very vulnerable feeling and topic, so be careful who to share with.
Educate yourself. 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.