We’ve all been there before. There you were, starting a new life with your partner, thinking of the infinite possibilities that lie ahead.
Then before you knew it, you became strangers to each other, scratching your heads over how reality shattered the high expectations you had at the beginning.
We’ve all felt that incredible rush that comes with falling in love with someone - followed by the rude awakening that comes with the difficulties of married life.
When you got to this point, did you feel like throwing in the towel or long for the perks of being single again?
If you have, don’t fret – anyone who’s been married for a while has come to this crossroads too. When your morale is at its lowest, it’s normal to have these feelings.
However, the good news is that this is just a temporary phase that you can power through. Like they say, the course of love isn’t always smooth sailing.
You can AND will get through the rough patches if you truly want to.
“How Do I Get Over The Disappointment?”
You may not be able to control your circumstances right now, but there is one thing you can master: your mindset.
Though the external world (i.e. the events in your life) may move in ways that cause you distress, ultimately you can still choose HOW to react.
Are you going let the outside world dictate what you feel on the inside? Or can you focus on thinking about the things you can change instead?
Your spouse may not be the perfect person you once thought he or she was, but does that mean you can’t choose to accept who they’ve become?
Yes, married life is tough – that’s a basic reality that we all have to live with.
Nevertheless, you still have the power to feel the way you want to, no matter how much life swirls around you. Besides, what you feel on the inside may not always reflect reality.
What Do I Do About It Then?
“I get that”, you might be thinking, “but it’s unrealistic for me to instantly feel better just by being more positive.”
Indeed, all the positive thinking in the world can’t change things on its own. Besides, it’s not about pretending that everything is ok when you know it’s not.
It’s about making the conscious decision NOT to dwell on the negatives of your relationship and focus on DOING something constructive instead.
Thus, the other part of dealing with disillusionment is making an effort to understand the underlying issue, which is having different ideas of what the perfect marriage is.
Calling Out The Elephant in the Room
Much of the “reality check” phase – when real life catches up to the fairy tale – comes from NOT having a shared definition of the ideal life with your partner.
Chances are this wasn’t the case in the beginning. You and your spouse probably had the same rough idea of the direction that your marriage should take.
Over time however, people change for one reason or another. Our experiences shape us in many ways, and major milestones down the line can affect our mindset and priorities in life.
Then there are cases where you had radically different ideas from the outset, but never got around to discussing them before getting married.
For instance, maybe you assumed your spouse was perfectly happy spending a lot of time at home to catch up on your favorite books, shows and movies.
On the contrary, your partner might have been more interested in travelling the world together, getting lost in the middle of nowhere while learning “strange” new cultures and creating meaningful experiences in the process.
Whatever your differences may be, it’s common for many couples to overlook this. They simply don’t realize that they’re no longer on the same page (or never were to begin with).
A lot of marital dissatisfaction comes from these fundamental differences; not only does it lead to disillusionment, but also resentment in the long run.
Taking The First Step
If you think that you’re not on the same page with your spouse, it’s probably why you’re feeling disenchanted or even cynical about your marriage.
If that’s the case, then it’s time to create subtle but effective changes in your marriage to get back on track.
Sometimes, the best way to start is by asking your spouse what’s on their mind.
Consider if you’ve ever asked your partner the following:
“What do you think it means to have a shared life?”
“How much have your thoughts on that changed since we got married?”
“What’s your greatest achievement so far?”
“Where do you want your career to be in the next five years?”
“Where do you see US in the next five years?”
Couples who have a common vision of their marriage already know the answer to these questions. For them, there is no emotional disconnect – they know what the other is coming from even if they don’t agree 100% on their respective dreams.
In fact, dealing with disillusionment isn’t so much about having the same ideas about the ideal marriage as it is being aware of them AND finding a way to reconcile them.
Finding middle ground is the mark of a strong, stable marriage. The next time you have the opportunity, try picking your partner’s brain in a casual, non-threatening way.
Sit them down with their favorite snack or beverage and slip it in the conversation. Get them used to the idea of talking about their hopes and dreams.
Although talking about these things might be essential, you don’t have to get “heavy” with your spouse about it.
Progress, One Day at a Time
In time, you’ll uncover your differences when it comes to what you both want out of your marriage. Like I said earlier, not having the same vision of the perfect relationship doesn’t mean you should be emotionally distant from each other.
You may have your work cut out for you right now, but taking the initiative to get these thoughts out in the open will benefit you both.
After you’ve eliminated the assumptions and misunderstandings, you’ll eventually regain a brighter outlook on things and stop being jaded about your marriage.
That's all for now. But I'd love to hear about your experiences. What are your sticking points? What works for you?
Share in the comments below.