Last month I suffered a major disappointment: the book I have worked tirelessly to write, promote, and get into the hands of women everywhere will not be released on October 24 as planned, but in early January 2018. This was enough to drive me to eat a carton of Blue Bell. At midnight. Alone. But I refrained.
Now, it might not seem like a big deal to you, but when I considered the countless hours I spent organizing a book launch team, planning a book launch party, and working with my social media marketing manager to prepare for the October release day, only to have to press the undo, pause, and restart buttons, it was This is Us-level sobbing.
Fortunately, this is a book release and not my marriage—not the one relationship I look to for comfort and safety as I move through this chaotic life. But there are have been days and seasons when my husband hurt and disappointed me . . . and times when I have done the same to him. Can you relate? I’m guessing you can.
So how do we respond when our spouse disappoints us? I’m not talking about a grave offense like adultery or abandonment. I’m talking about the everyday let downs that leave us feeling unimportant, unseen and unloved:
- They bust the monthly budget.
- They forget we have a girls’ night out planned, and they call to say they are working late tonight.
- They say something harsh when what we needed was compassion and understanding.
- We pray. We ask God to show us our part in the situation. What led to the disappointment? How does God want us to respond to our spouse? Then we pray for the courage to approach our spouse with truth, grace, and forgiveness. The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. (Psalm 145:18)
- We seek wise counsel. It is a good idea to seek the advice of someone we trust: a mentor, pastor, Bible study teacher, close friend. This is not the time to air out our dirty laundry on social media, ask our mentor to indulge in our self-pity, or ask others to take sides. This is the time to glean from the wisdom of someone who has walked our path.
- We communicate with truth and grace. Most of us have the tendency to lean too much toward truth (we share the facts with no regard to our spouse’s feelings) or toward grace (we pardon our spouse without revealing our own pain, then we let it build up to dangerous levels, ready to explode). Let us muster up every ounce of courage within us and then tell our spouse what they did to disappoint us while offering them grace and forgiveness knowing that we will disappoint them at some point as well.
- We seek restoration. Scripture is clear that “the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) The enemy wants nothing more than to cause division and destruction in marriage. It is our job as Christ-followers to seek restoration in marriage. We must work our way toward one another, not let ourselves drift away.
- We prevent repetition. Talk with your spouse about what led up to the disappointing situation so history won’t repeat itself. The only thing worse than being hurt once by your spouse is being hurt twice . . . by the same offense.
- We keep it in perspective. As I mentioned before, disappointments are a part of life and marriage. But they are just disappointments—not devastations. If your spouse forgets your anniversary, remember that it’s not the same as gambling away your retirement. So many of our day-to-day disappointments are mild in comparison to the world’s hurts.
- We move forward. We consciously decide to leave our disappointment in the past and move confidently and joyfully into the future. We use this time as a learning experience and commit to growing closer to our spouse because of the knowledge we gained.