Newlyweds Discovering That Married Life Can Be Hard

"Normal" is a relative concept. If you could peek behind the doors of other people's marriages, you'd find each one is different because every couple and every individual is unique. There's no such thing as a perfect marriage; at the same time, all marriages are not equally troubled or dysfunctional. Nevertheless, if we make room for these variations, we'll probably find that a certain amount of dissatisfaction or disillusionment is "normal" for any marriage.

Why is this? It's mainly a reflection of what we might call the "expectation gap." Most couples start out with their heads full of dreams of marital bliss. Hopes, expectations, and plans – whether expressed or unexpressed – have been built up in their minds during the courtship and dating process. The problem is that those plans often hit several speed bumps not long after the honeymoon. One spouse loses a job. Another is diagnosed with a chronic illness. Habits that seemed cute at first become annoying. In-law conflicts arise. A baby is born and financial resources begin to run thin. Reality sets in and the dream begins to fade.

There's only one way to survive a crisis like this: you have to be willing to lay the old expectations aside and deal with the situation God has placed you in. You have to bear in mind that while "a man's heart plans his way," it is the Lord who "directs his steps" (Proverbs 16:9). This is an important part of the process of growing and maturing, both as individuals and as a couple, and it can happen more easily if you step back and remember where your expectations came from in the first place. They were probably drawn from one of two wells: 1) the starry-eyed romantic mirage of courtship; or 2) the marriage you saw modeled when you were growing up.

Good marriages are not necessarily "made in heaven." Instead, they are forged in the crucible of day-to-day experience. If you and your spouse can examine your expectations honestly and recognize them for what they are – false or true, positive or negative, healthy or harmful – you'll be in a better position to put them in perspective and deal with the challenges of life as you're experiencing it at the present moment. "Sufficient for the day is its own trouble" (Matthew 6:34).

If you're like most couples, you could probably use some extra help in this area. An objective third party can help provide insight into your situation that you might never recognize on your own. Instead of jumping to the conclusion that your marriage is a failure and that you'd be better off single, you should consider the option of seeking professional counseling. Our staff would be happy to provide you with referrals to qualified counselors in your area who specialize in marriage and family matters. They'd also consider it a privilege to discuss your situation with you over the phone. Contact our Counseling department for a free consultation.

Related Video
In this iQuestions video from Focus on the Family, Jim Daly explains why commitment can make all the difference in keeping your marriage together.

 

Resources
The Love Dare

Love and Respect

Sacred Marriage: What if God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy

Dates on a Dime

Articles
Strengthening Your Marriage

Keeping Romance Alive

God's Design for Marriage

Excerpted from The Complete Guide to the First Five Years of Marriage, a Focus on the Family book published by Tyndale House Publishers. Copyright © 2006, Focus on the Family.