How To Handle Disappointment In Marriage

Last Monday I wrote a post titled: Is the Grass Really Greener In Other Marriages?
This post conjured up the emotion of disappointment. Maybe the difficulties of marriage and parenting has caught you by surprise and you struggle with that. You are not alone in your struggles, let me share with you about a time when I was deeply disappointed.

I remember our first beach vacation with the kids. My son was 3 and my daughter was 18 months. I assumed it would be a great getaway – but to my horror it was more work than being home. We stayed in a condo where I was cooking breakfast and lunch and our dinners out were stressful managing the kids.

On the beach, I was not able to sit down for a moment to relax, I was chasing my 18 month old as she cheerfully ran up the beach, stuck her head in the sand or ran into the ocean. I had brought a book to read but never cracked it open. Then a rainy day came and everyone looked at me to entertain them! I was like Mary Poppins all day trying to pull tricks out of my bag to keep the kids busy. I was exhausted at the end of vacation.

I remember standing at the washing machine in the condo folding clothes and feeling completely filled with disappointment. I told my husband, I wanted just one hour alone on the beach. So while the kids napped, I went to the ocean and just sat there and cried. I cried and talked to Jesus and told him how I felt – and then I sat there in peace enjoying the peaceful breeze and sound of the roaring waves. Releasing those tears in prayer and pausing to take in the moment helped my inner wars to quiet down and be at peace.

4 years later I wish I could talk to that sad girl on the beach and give her hope. I wish I could have hugged her and said – what you are feeling is normal. You are learning selflessness – you are experiencing growing pains. It’s going to be okay and some day you are going to laugh at the memories of this vacation. You are doing the right things. Don’t give up and don’t be discouraged. God sees you, he hears you and he loves you.

Here is How I have learned to handle disappointments:

1. Go straight to Jesus. It’s okay to cry to him. He cares – he loves you so. One of my favorite passages to go to when I’m in tears is I Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” Girls – I have soaked pillows meditating on this verse! Cast your cares on him…do you see why? Because he truly deeply CARES FOR YOU! You are not alone! He hears you and loves you so!


2. Change your expectations. Now that you see that reality does not match up to fairy tales accept this truth. Turn from critical and negative thoughts and open your eyes wide to see the blessings that are in your life. Count your blessings one by one – literally get out a piece of paper and do this! I Thessalonians 5:16-18 says “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”


3. Allow your family trials and daily struggles to mature you. James 1:3,4 says “Consider it pure joy, my brothers whenever you face trails of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance MUST finish its work so that you may be mature and complete.”

4. Have hope – this isn’t the end of your story.
Step back and look at the big picture. What is God teaching you right now through your trials that will help you in the next season of life. Colossians 2:2 “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”

And take heart that you are not alone – you have sisters in Christ who are in the trenches with you. Be strong – “do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Walk with the King!


  1. Kat says

    I'm the deleted comment. Ooops! Let me try again :)

    What I was trying to say…my favorite point is #2 Change Your Expectations….sometimes we just raise the bar too high.

  2. Missy O'Brien says

    I love this Courtney! I can remember many times.. feeling the same. I found myself struggling with this when my husband had days off. I would automatically assume he would be my little helper all day… jumping in and giving me a break from my daily routine. When I saw he could not read my mind and this is not what was happening… I would get sad, irritated and disappointed as well! God has really changed my heart!!! Thanks for your words!

  3. Stephie C says

    Great post…what I find myself telling myself in those hard moments is that it most likely will never be like this again…babies will no longer be babies at the blink of an eye so we need to TRY to forget about the dishes or laundry for a minute and just BE with our families as they are at that moment….I admit it is a super hard task for me at times!

  4. Robin says

    This is such a inspirational post! We have all been there, and you are right… it is just part of the journey, and the best way to move through is to focus on God, what He is teaching us, and the fact that "this too shall pass." It makes me so sad when I see women struggling and even walking away from a marriage because things don't look like they expected. This life is a challenge, but the joy that comes from walking through with God is so much deeper than having things look "just right".

    Thanks for all of your words of inspirations Courtney. Have a blessed week!


  5. More than Survival says

    I'm so glad that you are living a life of obedience to God and are writing these encouraging posts!!!! Keep it up!! We all struggle in this area and your post sums it up so well!!!!

  6. Cami says

    That was a very beautiful post. Exactly what I needed to hear today. Thanks so much for posting this for the rest of us to learn from.

  7. Jill says

    Thank you so much for posting that, Courtney. It's so good to remember that the Father wants to hear us, even in our frustration and disappointment. You're such an inspiration to continue to pray to become the wife and future mother that God wants me to be! Your ministry here is so valuable to me–thank you!

  8. Sara says

    I loved this post! #2 is definitely my favorite point. I've only been married a year, but one thing I've learned this year is to not set such ridiculously high expectations. I really enjoy reading your posts each day and find them to be so helpful as I'm learning to be the best wife I can be!

  9. Skip's Girl says

    I think I have been in that exact situation! Seriously though, I think even then you had two great decisions. Obviously, as you pointed out, pouring your heart out to Jesus. I also think you showed wisdom in just telling your husband how you felt, what you needed, and doing it! So many women recognize their frustrations, lower their expectations, but bottle up those feelings from their husband. Many times he wants to be the "hero" and give us that hour of time alone.

  10. Christen says

    Love that video, hilarious!
    Thanks for the encouragement, there are many days where I just need to cry to my Lord and I feel so much better after letting it all out!

  11. Toni says

    You said it all so well. Thanks, Courtney. Btw, I thought the first photo was a stock photo. The sign in the bathing suit and head in the sand was so comical. Then I saw the second photo and thought, "Oh NO! Oh my goodness. It's not a stock photo. It's REAL. And,…oh my goodness, that's Courtney's dd with her head in the sand." LOL!

    Oh sister, I've been there. Like the time our oldest (then 19 months) threw up all through the rental car (A-L-L through!) Or the time we had to throw away our stroller on Huntington Beach in CA because our 16mo was sick and blew out her diaper, her outfit, AND her stroller all in one big blow.

    Oh, and there was the time we got "reprimanded" on a trolly car in San Francisco because our then 11mo was squirming in my dh's arms, a.k.a. "Your kid is kicking me. Can you make him stop?" (Yes, the man was annoyed with our 11mo old, and no, dh couldn't really make him stop, seeing as he was standing, holding the baby in one arm, and hanging on to a pole on the outside of the trolly car with the other.)

    Such great insight for all moms today, Courtney. Thanks for sharing your heart.

  12. Anonymous says

    Thank you! I laughed with the video, the other day, but many times I've cried with/to God, about how it all seems too much… And then I'm reminded of the many times I prayed for exactly this… (not quite, but you know what I mean… I hope)!

  13. momstheword says

    Awesome post! When the kids were little we were to go camping with my folks for about a week.

    It had rained all morning when we got there, but my hubby managed to get the tent trailer set up and he and my dad had some tarps set up over a sitting area.

    The rain turned the dirt to mud, of course, and occasionally the rain died down enough so that they could play with their coats and boots on.

    By that evening the children had managed to go through every item of clothing that I had bought for the whole week. Not to mention the fact that it was still raining!

    I couldn't keep them in a 16 foot trailer all weekend, a toddler and a preschooler need room (not to mention the dog). I also couldn't wash any clothes nor could I let them play in dirty, muddy clothes.

    I had tried to keep them out of the heavy rain, but it was really hard and they were getting bored. They still managed to find some mud to play in.

    So, we just packed it in and went home. I imagine my parents were more disappointed than we were, though.

    I love #2 about changing your expectations. That is so much better than just dwelling on what isn't. We need to let go and focus on what IS and move on!

    Thanks for linking up to Making Your Home Sing Monday!

    • Unhappy says

      I try not to expect anything anymore, then I really can’t find that I’m disappointed, and when something does happen I can be surprised.

  14. Anonymous says

    Courtney – Thanks for these encouraging words. I just found your blog several weeks ago and have been so blessed by what God has put on your heart to share!

  15. Jackie Koll says

    Thank you for this. I've been struggling with some of this for awhile. I love – adore! – my family but have struggle a lot with the disappointment between reality and what I expect. I am printing this off today to keep with my daily study and I plan to use this over the next few days . .. weeks. . and months.

  16. Daughter to THE King says

    I wish there was a like button on the blogs but here is a two BIG thumbs up! What a great article.


  17. Brandi says

    I have been (literally) crying all week. Maybe it's pregnancy hormones, but I am so completely overwhelmed with my responsibilities right now. I even found myself longing for my kids to be older and more self-sufficient…although, I don't really want them to grow up fast at all! Most days, I want time to freeze so that they can stay here with me forever.

    I feel like I'm going crazy, but I have had moments of rest in my Father's arms…crying out to Him is the only thing I can do.

    I am trying to focus on my blessings. I'm on Day 5 of 30 Days of Blessings on my blog…a photo each day of something around me that is a blessing. A simple concept, but so helpful during times when it's hard to focus.

    Thanks for sharing this…it reminds me that everything will be okay! ;0)


  18. Sharon Cohen says

    This post brought me to tears. What you've said is so powerfully true. Sitting on the far, far side of youth, I cannot add one thing to your list. Every point is powerfully true.

  19. Melodie says

    I love this post Courtney. Our birthdays are around the same time in August and this year my husband totally dropped the ball, and I was devastated. I remembered you birthday post from last year and how it helped me to change my thinking from "poor me". :) So, I pulled it up and read it, but my bad attitude still did not change :( I did not handle it like I should have. I KNOW the Lord is working on my selfishness in marriage. I have an AMAZING husband who is so helpful with my kids and always helps me with house work if I ask. I focus on the 3 things that he promised me he would do with me when I moved (we dated while living 3 hours apart)that he has yet to do. I seem to almost enjoy dwelling on negative and focus on what I am not getting. I HATE this about me, but God is making it more and more apparent that this is something that He wants to work on with me! Thank you so much for obeying the Lord and posting the hard things :o)

  20. LaToya says

    This is a wonderful post. This is truly something that I need to hold on to as I am going through a divorce with a spouse that is being really ugly during the process. I have to constantly re-evaluate the situation. And remember to take all my frustrations to my Father in prayer instead of lashing out at others because of my disappointments.


  21. Janelle Nehrenz says

    Love this Courtney…I think we have shared the same vacation. LOL! It is all worth it..every moment..these are the glory days. Love ya

  22. Jennifer says

    A lot of what you said can apply to those of us who are married but without children. I have been struggling with my work recently, and praying fervently for an answer to my prayers about a job closer to home. But we must also be sure to thank God for all the other wonderful things he has provided in our lives. I may not love my job but it does help to provide a roof over our heads and food on our table and for that i am grateful.

  23. TL. says

    thanks for your blog it is really neat and encouraging :)
    I read once an article about parenting, how parents are probably less "happy" than childless couples. But their lives are more meaningful.
    Which raises the question: what is happiness?

  24. Dulcecupie says

    I friend posted a link to this post and I'm so glad I opened it!
    Being a first time mommy I wonder so many times if it's normal to feel this way. To feel disapointment sometimes and how to deal with it.
    I am absolutely blessed with my beautiful son and my husband and yes, I also sometimes ask my self what happend to my "fairytale" Now reading all this posts makes me realize I am not alone on this.

    This is a lot of work but who said the best things in life are easy?

  25. Amy says

    Love that post! Thank you. Marriage is hard, and expectations are often times unrealistic. We expect too much from our husbands and our marriages. I loved that your vacation was a time God used to teach you selflessness. That is the ultimate goal, growing more like Christ. Not roses, diamonds and candlelight dinners forever and ever! Thank you!!

  26. Julie@comehaveapeace says

    Thanks for linking this to Marriage Mondays this week, Courtney.

    I know I've been "there," too. Marriage is such a process of learning how to let go of my idea of what things will be like, learning to understand and meet my husband's needs, and learning to communicate mine, too.

    We went on a beach trip like that when my kiddos were about that age, but we went with another couple in the same stage. We were able to share the load, the Daddies enjoyed taking turns together, and we even gave each other a couple's night out. It was a wonderful way to deepen our friendship and enjoy our family time, too.

    No doubt, marriage is a journey! Your suggestions are so helpful.


  27. teachermomof2 says

    Thanks Courtney for the encouragement! I'm struggling with many, many disappointments these last few months and needed a kick in the pants to get over myself. I often expect too much from everyone and everything. I am an overachiever and sometimes think that everyone should be too. That just isn't reality.

    I am going to print your points out and read it over and over.

  28. DannielleSB says

    Courtney, thank you! This post really encouraged me. I feel like I've been crying nonstop for DAYS. So much is going on, between church commitments, work and family. It all just seems to be too much some days. My mom's health isn't good, so that's an added "burden".

    So thank you for the scriptures, I really need to be reminded of God's unfailing love.

    PS: I just found your blog this morning. It truly is a blessing! Be blessed!

  29. Anonymous says

    I love this post. It has been extrememly hard to carry the disappointment, anger in heart. I keep remind myself to let go the negative energy, but seemed did not work… This post just remind me to pray to lord. to close to lord…Thank you!

  30. Anonymous says

    This was an amazing post! I read that your husband traveled quite a bit when your kids were small. Do you have a blog post on how you handled this?

    I have an almost 3 year old and a 11 month old and a change at my husband's job has required him to travel a lot for the time being.

    I am really struggling with having a bad attitude b/c I've taken on everything in his absense..and really when he's here as well b/c I want him to enjoy the time with our kids.

    Any pearls of wisdom to share with me?

  31. Courtney (Women Living Well) says

    Anonymous – I have not written on this season of life – someday I am sure I will!

    But for now – one verse that motivated me in my marriage during this time was Proverbs 31:11 "Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good not harm all the days of her life."

    I wanted my husband to be able to have full confidence that I could "hold down the fort" while he was gone. I wanted to be strong, capable and able to make wise decisions while he was gone – so he was free to pursue his dream and succeed.

    I must say that it has paid off…though I was tempted to cry to him on the phone and be a mess – God gave me strength and made me strong when I was weak. Our marriage is stronger from his appreciation of my support and God blessed his work and it enables me to not only stay home but support this on-line ministry!

    So be strong – stay in God's word – pray daily for him while he is gone and another big key for us was phone dates. He called the children every night to hear about their day and say goodnight and then we always talked for 30-60 minutes.

    Stay connected – communication is key!

    Hope something in here helps you!
    Much Love,

  32. Joanna Noel says

    Thank Courtney! I didn’t think I would need such help until slept & woke up disappointed with my seeetheart. Thank you so much!

  33. Amy says

    Thank you so much for this post, Courtney! It is just what I needed this morning! We just returned from our first family beach vacation with our 3 yr old little boy and 8 month old baby girl. I went with high expectations for the perfect family vacation…. High expectations of getting to lay out on the beach while my baby played in the little baby pool and my son built sand castles or whatever…. And came home full of disappointments. And wishing I could have a do-over…. Jaci hated the beach, so myself or my husband was in with her the entire time. We went on a dolphin cruise and saw no dolphins lol… Anyway, I am hoping our next beach getaway is much better. But thank you once again, for giving me just what I needed to hear to bring me contentment this morning.

  34. Stefanie says

    While I appreciate the message of this post, as I was reading it I kept thinking “Where was your husband and why wasn’t he helping you?” I am sorry you went through that, feeling desolate on a beach vacation is awful.

  35. Amii says

    I know this post is five years old, but this speaks volumes to me at this stage in my life. I struggle with these “growing pains” as well. After I feel them, I start to feel ashamed about it. I am glad that I am not alone and can go to God without feeling judged!

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