All posts by Kim Bowen

When My Spouse Can’t Give Me What I Need

We all have to do it.

At some point in our marriages, we must come to terms with one simple fact: “I want ————– and my spouse isn’t capable of giving it.”

Fill in the blank with anything: emotional intimacy, exciting sex, intellectual partnership – even something mundane like a more organized garage! Whatever it is, at some point it becomes obvious that this missing piece won’t be something we can realistically expect from our spouse. Ever.

The missing piece

The yearning for these missing pieces usually comes at a time when we feel stuck in our relationship. We’re wanting something more or something different and we zero in on a certain aspect of the relationship as THE missing piece. The missing piece is usually something we didn’t realize we needed during the “honeymoon phase” of our relationship. But as the honeymoon wore off and we weren’t quite as blinded by the love, we began to identify more of our wishes and wants in the relationship. And now, this missing piece? We really need it, and by golly we’re going to make sure our spouse knows we expect them to deliver it.

Over and over we revisit this issue. It becomes a focal point in many of our discussions. Our arguments. And the crazy thing is, sometimes our spouse even accepts that they need to provide this missing piece. And they try. But delivering it – at least not consistently – is just not in them.

My husband

For example, let’s talk about my husband. Bless this man! He continues to be so generous about letting me share aspects of our personal relationship with the rest of the world.

This man has many natural gifts and I love him dearly. But keeping it real, juggling multiple tasks well is not one of those gifts.

This was, and often still is, an important thing to me. It irks me to no end when something falls through the cracks. I’ll come home tired and wanting nothing more than to turn my brain off, to discover that he forgot to make an important phone call, or pay a bill, or help one of our kids with a project.

My wonderful partner has acknowledged this missing piece often, and he has attempted to fill it in. Over and over again. But truthfully, it really hasn’t improved much, even after many years of marriage. It’s still a missing piece for me.

I grieve this. I often feel hurt by it. But it’s not going to change. So what do I do?

The marriage cycle of closeness, hurt, distance, repair

Here’s the reality: Marriage is a steady, ongoing cycle of closeness, hurt, distance and repair.

We initially feel close to our spouse, then something happens that creates disappointment or hurt feelings. Then we put distance between ourselves in an attempt to make the pain go away.

''Our society doesn't know how to deal with natural marriage cycle of closeness, hurt,distance and repair.''. Click To Tweet

We initially feel close to our spouse, then something happens that creates disappointment or hurt feelings. Then we put distance between ourselves in an attempt to make the pain go away.

Dealing with disappointment

Our society doesn’t know how to deal with disappointment and hurt in marriage. To most people, this cycle means it must be a bad marriage. If I’m getting hurt, and if I feel like my spouse and I aren’t as close anymore, then our marriage must be on the rocks.

But this is normal relationship. Please hear me on this. There is always pain in true relationship. Marriage basically means giving your heart to someone else. Inevitably, they won’t treat it as carefully as they should, and it will get hurt.

We must feel the hurt. We must experience the distance. Then we must work together to repair the relationship, from a place of honest commitment to one another. As we do the work, we’ll find a new, deeper level of closeness. That’s where the true richness of the relationship will be found.

That’s where we become close again, in a deeper way.

A relationship a-ha moment

When you realize that your spouse is in some way a disappointment to you, you are forced to take stock. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is my marriage worth the grieving I need to do to come to terms with the disappointment?
  • Am I getting enough from my relationship to keep from being bitter about what I’m not getting?
  • Will my disappointment be the focus of my marriage?

If you concentrate on what you are not getting, I guarantee discontent, anger and bitterness will be knocking on your doorstep, ready to take up permanent residence.

Your other option of course, is to decide the positive things you take from your marriage far outweigh the value of the missing piece, making the struggle to live without it, more than worth it.

In my case, that’s what I did. Would I choose to have to handle far fewer things myself? Absolutely. But when I look past the disappointment, I realize I get so much more from my marriage. I get a man who loves me without limits. A husband who is forgiving and kind, gracious and generous. And I choose that.

If you are struggling to prioritize the missing piece in your relationship, consider giving us a call or scheduling an appointment online. We can help you figure out where you are in the marriage cycle right now, and what your next steps could be.

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