After the honeymoon is over, real life can be sobering for couples who once preoccupied themselves with entertainment and leisure during the dating phase. Being part of a committed relationship means there is another person to be responsible to and for. Instead of solo goals, there are joint objectives. If courtship is a carefree time, marriage is when a couple gets down to business to build their new life together.
Even in nature, once all the fanciful flapping, dancing, warbling and gift bearing seals the deal, the new mates no longer engage in courtship rituals. They start building a nest. But some of us humans, both men and women, enjoy the romance process and find all the work of nest building rather arduous and burdensome. Definitely not as fun as the courtship stage. And perhaps the nest isnít getting feathered as well as we imagined it would, he isnít bringing back the juiciest worms or maybe heís beginning to spend more time flying around and youíre left with gaping, chirping, insatiable beaks to feed all by yourself. Marriage can end up being a big disappointment.
Reasons for disappointment
The old bait-and-switch scam. ďHeís not the man he pretended to be.Ē Imagine you think youíve found a swan only to discover that he was faking it all along just to snare you into marriage. Now that the wedding is over, he reveals himself to be a duck. I rarely advocate for divorce, but if there was deliberate deception from the start, one can maintain that the marriage can be annulled. It could be asserted that the person to whom you engaged in a legal contract was not a real person.
Unreasonable expectations. We all face disappointments when we set unreasonably high expectations for anything in life, especially for other people. People will disappoint you, not because they are hopelessly incapable of living up to your demands but everyone has his own standards. What does he expect of himself as a husband? My husband expected that I would love to get on my hands and knees every night, like his mother, to mop the floor. Seriously? I expected him to manage the finances as well as my father who was an accountant. Again, seriously? My husband was a musician when I met him. Not that musicians canít be good financial managers, but letís just say that stereotypically they have other strengths. We were wrong to feel disappointed in each other in those areas but we were disappointed nonetheless. What we expected and imagined marriage to be was very different from the reality.
As we humans move through life stages, we inevitably are shaped by circumstance and experience. Few older people can say that they are the same person they were when they were first married. Sometimes, we find we donít like the person that the other has become or we end up wanting to take different life paths to pursue new interests. As a married couple, you expect that the two of you can strike a compromise to choose the same road but it doesnít always happen that way. It is disappointing to face a grim truth: You love each other but it might take separating in order to find personal fulfillment. Iíd like to believe that love can find a way but sometimes self-sacrifice leads to deep-seated resentment or personal dissatisfaction.
Dealing with disappointment
Many people miss out on all the good things they have going in their lives while lamenting what they donít have. Without getting too existential here, I notice that life doesnít always give us what we want but what we need in terms of personal development. When things arenít turning out the way we hoped, do an assessment of what other experiences or gifts we have gained instead. Youíll be surprised to find that there will be many.
Remember the moral of the story of the Little Bluebird of Happiness, and that both disappointment and joy are found within, no matter where you nest. Sometimes, just a little paradigm shift in how you see your life can drastically improve your marriage.