How To Deal With Disappointment in Marriage

Anonymous wrote:

For the marriage series, could you cover disappointment? Going into a marriage thinking you are on the same page spiritually, but you find out after that you’re not, and not knowing before the “I do’s” that there would be such an issue with laziness? Resentment sets in, and years get lost while hoping and praying for your husband to be the spiritual leader and provider that you thought he was going to be? It affects every aspect of the relationship, and it’s hard to reconcile your life and dreams with reality, especially as time passes so quickly.”

Another Anonymous wrote:

“I am experiencing the same issue. Thank you for your consideration on this topic.”

Dear Anonymous,

I am so sorry for your disappointment :(  Please know that you are not alone.  We all experience disappointments in marriage.  I hear 3 concerns in your question: Disappointment with expectations; Disappointment with your husband’s spiritual leadership; and  Disappointment with your husbands work ethic.  So let me address these issues one at a time.

1. Disappointment with Expectations

False expectations can be formed while dating.  As you both try to win each others hearts,  both parties put their best foot forward and seek to please each other.  The reality is character qualities that we did not see during the dating years will rear their ugly heads as new seasons of life bring new challenges.  Does that mean we married the wrong person?  No!

How we handle our husband’s short comings reveals more about our own character than our husbands.  Bitterness, resentment, harsh words and a critical spirit are not character traits our husbands expected to see in their wives.  The truth is usually both parties change a bit in the way they selflessly love. 

So what do we do?  Let go of your expectations, remain steadfast in faithfulness to your marriage vows and remember that you married a sinner who needs grace – the same grace Christ gave us at the cross.  Look into his eyes – deep into his soul – most likely there is a hurting man inside.  He may be suffering from fear of failure, insecurity masked in a big ego, maybe wounds from childhood, and wounds from your marriage.  Pray God brings a spiritual and hard working role model into his life.  Disrespect rarely motivates a man.   So try something new in your marriage – sit down and write out 5 things you love about your husband and tell him! 

2. Disappointment with husband’s spiritual leadership

This problem is a serious epidemic in Christian marriages and possibly the #1 reason Christian marriages are failing.  It is very hard for wives to respect and follow a man that they are not trusting to lead them in God’s ways.  But disrespect is rarely a motivator for a husband.

The reality is you can’t change your husband.  And that’s a hard pill to swallow because it is a true loss and hardship in marriage.  BUT God can change your husband and sometimes he uses you, the helpmate, to change him but often it’s not with your words but through your actions(I Peter 3).  Please take a moment and read one of my previous posts titled “Thriving In A Spiritually Mismatched Marriage.” It talks about the common pitfalls of women in this position from the “holier than thou attitude” to falling into a pit of despair, heartache, feeling over burdened, fear, loneliness, and longing.  This is a very real problem that you must give to God daily.  Cling to Jesus and let him lead you. 
3.  Disappointment with husband’s work ethic
All husbands have their strengths and weaknesses.   This is where the grass is not greener part comes in.  While you may struggle with your husband not working, another wife may struggle with her husband working too much.  While these issues need to be discussed and addressed – as wives we must guard our hearts against discontentment.  Discontentment kills the oneness that God created us to have in marriage.  
If this causes a serious financial issue, I suggest you write out a letter to your husband.  Pray over it for 1-2 weeks and rewrite it until it is loving, kind, gentle, filled with grace and truth while being transparent and open.  Pray for God to reveal the right time to approach your husband.  Then when the television is off and the kids are not in the room, read the letter to your husband.  Leave the results in God’s hands and if he does not listen then I encourage you to watch this video about how to bring our needs before our husbands time and again respectfully.
In conclusion, all of the above issues need to be bathed in prayer.  If your marriage is on the brink of disaster and you have done all of the above – I encourage you to please see a pastor, elder, an older woman you trust or call a Christian counsellor. Focus on the Family has a 1-800 number that you can call Monday through Friday 6am to 8pm. It’s 1-800-232-6459.
I am praying for you – May God Bless your marriage ten fold!  
Walk with the King!


  1. says

    Courtney, this post was so full of wisdom! There are always people who hurt us, and eventually we can becoming a walking shell of a person if we allow resentment, anger and disappointment to fester. We can’t choose our problems, but we can choose our own responses to our problems. In the end, we stand before God accountable for our own actions and reactions.

  2. delia says

    You have no idea what a blessing this post is. I even stopped attending church because it was just easier. It was always an argument. I feel helpless at times because my son loves going to church and im running out of excuses. My husband loves me and the kids….and works very hard. I will pray and take your advice

  3. says

    This is an excellent post and good question. What I’ve learnt about disappointment about a husband’s leadership was to change the way I saw what leadership was. What I may think is good Christian leadership may be not what God has called my husband to be. When I changed the way I looked upon my husband, I saw that he did lead me, but in better ways than I even thought of. He might not be what I think I want him to be, but he is what God knows I need him to be. My respect for him totally changed and I’m very thankful that God opened my heart to see that it was me that was in the wrong and not him. Thanks for a fantastic site! Love it.

    • says

      That’s a geat testimony, Sarah! I am working on resting in my husband’s leadership as well. Just because he leads differently than I would, or than I would expect a husband to, doesn’t mean that he is wrong. He is JUST what I need, and God knew that when He placed us together. There is such peace in my heart when I prayerfully and joyfully submit. It’s not always easy but very rewarding!

      • says

        Thanks, Megan! Isn’t God so good? He knew the man we needed. He even took into consideration the sins our husbands struggle with (and what we in ourselves struggle with) to help in our journey of sanctification! I sometimes realise when I’m struggling with my husband’s sin that because I’m struggling, God is changing ME, too! Lol. God’s awesome.

  4. Susan says

    A resource that I recently came across to help you in focusing on your husbands good qualities and helping him to feel loved and accepted by you is the book “The Husband Project” by Kathi Lipp. You choose one thing to do each day for 21 days to bless him. You don’t tell him about the project. And some things you do, he may never notice. But that’s okay because the best part of the whole project is changing your heart towards your husband.

  5. Anonymous says

    I really had no idea that I was not the only one who dealt with this issue. I heard everything I wanted to hear but there was not follow through and the laziness wore me out as I can’t be all. I did not want to be the spiritual leader as that is not what God wants of me as a woman but I did what I had to for the kids. Today I am divorced, my oldes daughter is in bible college for advanced school of youth ministry and she had even tried to get him to be the head of the household and the leader to no avail. It was heartbreaking to say the least. It was also hard that he walked out in the worst time of life when my Dad was fighting to beat cancer and lost. So I lost my husband and my Dad but God is so Good even through the hard times and I put my trust in Him. My faith was tested but I did not faulter nor will I ever. Thanks for your wisdom on this subject.

  6. says

    Thank you for this post. I think sometimes it’s easy to get those blinders on and forget that we’re not the only ones with internal struggles. Our husbands have expectations of what they want their wives to be just as much as we have expectations of them. I feel blessed to have a very happy marriage, but I know there have been times along the way where I wished my husband would be more of a leader without realizing that he needed me to let him lead.

  7. says

    This post was very good. After 27 years of marriage, I was wondering if there was anything left. I married a kind, considerate, loving, strong man, but am now with a man who withholds information, lies to me, does things I do not approve of, and doesn’t care what I think.

    In addition, my sons spouses (we’re quite close) were coming to me and complaining about some of my husbands bad habits and wanting me to talk with him. These were all issues I had been struggling with for years, but every time I tried to talk with him, he would just clam up and almost seem to give up. I felt like he did not take me seriously, as he would just defend himself after some time, and things would continue as usual.

    So I recently took the time to talk to him very calmly, with no real emotion – just facts…and that seemed to get through to him. I mentioned others were concerned as well. He told me it would take him some time to change, but he would try.

    I decided that I could be a little wiser in how I behaved myself; to treat him as if he has made all the necessary changes already, and back him as much as I can; to honor him and put him first again, like I used to. There do seem to be some changes coming slowly. He phones me from work again, and he is kinder to me. He also kisses me more often and seems more considerate. Other major areas are changing as well, but slowly. It has only been a few weeks, but I am very hopeful!

  8. says

    Really good. Thank you. Something I’m learning constantly. Expectations are hard things. Time and patience and humility are not easy. I just wrote a post about this myself, what I am learning. Loved what you wrote. Very helpful indeed. Thank you.

  9. says

    I agree, and it is not easy for us women to keep our mouths shut and respect our husbands sometimes! I’m learning that marriage is not about compromising our values and hopes and dreams, but learning to sacrifice so that we are serving each other and submitting out of reverence for Christ. Thanks for sharing your wisdom! :)

  10. says

    Yes, this is such a good post with wisdom from the Word. I struggle SO MUCH with this aspect of my marriage – and forget that I am NOT just serving my husband – but ultimately serving the Lord in my marriage. Marriage really isn’t about fulfilling our dreams – although we all like to think so. It is so about God. It is so about how God wants to love us and build us up and draw us closer to HIM. But it is really easy to forget that in the middle of everyday life. Thank you for writing this. I could have easily made the same request as the other readers – and needed to read this so much today!

  11. Laura says

    Thank you for posting this. It was just what I needed to read. Will be praying over my letter for the next week or so!!

  12. Jennifer says

    God’s timing is just perfect. I too have been battling the “head of the household” issue. The “Love & Respect” book has showed me how what I say and do directly affect my husbands response. We have been on a roller coaster of emotions for over a year, this being our 20th year of marriage. I’m really not a fan of roller coasters and I just want off :( But I know through this we will both grow in character and faith and God will give me what I need for each day, every hour if necessary. My teenage daughters have tried talking to their dad too and he says he doesn’t see where he needs to change. I am so happy and unhappy to see that I’m not alone in this. I thank God for this blog and all of the women who have responded!

  13. Susie says

    My husband and I facilitated a marriage group last year at church and we used the book “The Marriage Prayer” by Patrick Morley. It was a GREAT study and we had just wives, just husbands and couples participating. Here is the wives prayer…

    I said, “Til death do us part” – I want to mean it.
    Help me love You more than him,
    and him more than anyone or anything else.
    Help me bring him into Your presence today.
    Make us one, like You are three-in-one.
    I want to hear him, support him, and serve him –
    So he would love You more and we can bring You glory.

    Great article and have loved reading the responses…

  14. says

    No matter how many times you write this message, I always need to hear it! Seriously, I SO needed this AGAIN! Thanks for challenging me in my marriage.

  15. Mia says

    Thank God for giving you wisdom, grace and the gentleness to speak out on the beauty of obedience in marriage!! I am 30 years old with four little ones and am daily learning what it means to be a “helpmeet”. It was never something I learned at home from my single mother. God will bring godly, wise and trusting women into your life if you ask God for it. Seek mentors that will always lift your eyes toward heaven. It is a very hard journey, but it takes more courage to make it through marriage then it does to put your foot down and walk away. God bless you and you family and all those women who are at the end of themselves. That’s when God can do the most work.

  16. says

    One thing that was told to me regarding the husband being lazy is this:

    Men find their identity in their job. If he has trouble finding work, or has lost his job he will most likely feel as though he has lost himself. That he is worthless. How we react will either confirm or deny his belief.
    My Sweetheart went through this. He would spend hours, and I mean hours, playing video games. It drove me nuts. I would rant and rave that he was lazy, that he didn’t really care because he wasn’t even looking for a job.
    When I read about the whole identity thing I saw how my reaction and words just confirmed his feelings of worthlessness. I admit, I approached him with my head held in shame. I asked him if that was true. If he was feeling useless and worthless because he wasn’t able to find work. He shocked me by telling me that he did feel that way. After so many no’s and never getting a call back he just gave up.
    I asked his forgiveness. I cried, he cried. And I changed my way of talking to and treating him. He didn’t immediately change, but our marriage was much less stressful.

  17. Mrs. B says

    Wonderful post. Thank you.

    I would just add, that often our husband’s lack of spiritual leadership comes from feelings of inadequacy. We wives can cause this by expressing in a number of ways that we think they are lacking in this, or any other area. It is so important to affirm our husbands sincerely. Also, they may feel unworthy to teach and lead us because of unconfessed sin. We must pray for the Spirit to work and lead our husbands, pray that any unconfessed and unrepented sins be brought to the surface, and we must pray for the strength to become the helpmeet that our husband needs us to be, rather than focusing on changing him.

  18. Judy says

    I found your blog today and I really believe God wanted me to find it. I was praying this morning about my marriage and asking Him to guide me somewhere or give me some message today to help me. I look forward to reading your blog but I do have a burning question. How do you respect your husband when he doesn’t respect you? Its all about him and his feelings, his needs. He doesn’t even know what mine are and doesn’t even want to know. We have two kids and I just can’t break our marriage. It works because of all the effort I put into it, but I’m not happy and he’s not happy either. My well has run dry.

  19. says

    I’m surprised no one mentioned the book “Fascinating Womanhood.” She deals with this topic very well & gives you steps/assignments to lift up your husband. The change in my husband was immediate. Then it leveled off as we BOTH learned a new way of acting & reacting to each other.. It’s been 1-1/2 yrs and these topics are almost fully resolved (I’ve changed a lot, too!). I highly recommend the book.

    I thought your answer, Courtney, was very mature and right-on.

  20. says

    I know! It’s so easy to get sucked into the trad-o-sphere and become fixated on the traditional ideal of womanhood. But to be a truly good wife, you have to submit to *your husband,* not to some disembodied ideal that you assume he must want. Maybe he prefers you in jeans and T-shirts rather than prairie dresses. Maybe he wants you to sit down and have a glass of wine with him, not bustle about the kitchen preparing him a five-course meal. Whatever. The point of the love languages, I think, isn’t to reduce all varieties of affection into five fixed categories; instead, it’s about learning to serve your spouse’s individual needs.

  21. Sheri says

    Been reading the posts. It sound very good. Problem is that I have been struggling with more issues than I can get into here for the past 9 years. It has taken a toll on our marriage and I feel as though I have been burdened with more than I really am able to take. I am alone nearly all the time. He works constantly. The kids are rarely around as they venture out into beginning their own lives. It would seem as though God had shut down the avenues of employment for me. So, I take on everything, and my weariness makes it difficult not to resent his obvious oblivion of my struggle. I support him, I do all the Proverb 31 duties, in addition to working part-time to help with finances, and even help him on the job site if he needs the extra hands. I often feel like he is selfish and takes far more than he gives. No romance, no emotional support, often not even time to talk to me on the phone (never mind face to face). I want to see a difference in our lives but it seems as though he is an all consuming fire, that keeps burning, and gives no warmth. I find it difficult to see his emotional neglect as something I can re-frame into something different. Nor can I find it in my heart to simply focus on his positive attributes when I feel like I am starved for love. I am disappointed because I thought being married would mean I would have a partner in life – not just someone to whom I am to care for at his emotional, physical, sexual and personal need level. He gets sick, I am right there by his side to care for him, in whatever way he asks – be it space, affection, nurturing, etc. I get sick and he is nowhere to be found. We have discussed, on non-confrontational levels, the issue and he acknowledges there is more he could do – but nothing changes. I just don’t know what to do anymore.

  22. RC says

    You clearly have a heart for God, but this post was unhelpful and passive. Basically, she is married to a lazy man who deceived her in dating and you wre saying to get over it. Actually a man should work to provide. He should meet certain basic marriage requirements. You are right when you say you can’t change him, but I assure you being married to a man who won’t work to pay the bills is not comparable to a man who works too much. Have you had a trying marriage because it seems that you obviously have not


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