“Love should be seen as something which in a sense never ‘is’ but is always only ‘becoming’”
St. John Paul II
Disillusionment – the feeling of disappointment when we realize something or someone isn’t as wonderful as we thought them to be.
Ooof. That’s a tough one. Every single marriage hits the disillusionment stage at some point and just because you’ve been there before doesn’t mean you won’t be there again.
The fact is, we are all flawed humans who make mistakes and fail to be the perfect people we may hope to be. Even those of us who had realistic expectations of who both we and our spouses were on our wedding day will still encounter disillusionment.
The thing is, we can’t stop at or stay in disillusionment. If we settle for it, we hop on the path toward divorce.
So what do we do when we encounter disillusionment in our marriages? And how to we keep fighting for our marriages when we don’t “feel like we are in love” anymore?
When we find ourselves experiencing disillusionment in marriage, we’re not experiencing optimal love. We’re in a place where we don’t feel like we’re being loved and therefore don’t want to love in return.
There are so many different ways and reasons for this to crop up in your marriage. Maybe you just had a baby so intimacy (and sleep) is low. It could be there you simply had an argument and are in a strange place where you’ve apologized but things still don’t feel right.
Whatever the reason for the disillusionment, you could identify it as the feeling of just not being that into your spouse right now. You don’t feel like loving him or her and they may be feeling the same way.
When we recognize that we’re in that space and don’t want to stay there, we have two choices. We could either white-knuckle it, toughing it out alone (we don’t recommend!) or we could open our hearts to our Lord, who loves perfectly and loves our spouse better than we do.
Our Lord is the perfect lover. In our marriages, we strive to love like him but we’ll never fully succeed.
When we’re struggling with disillusionment in our marriages, we’re not in a great place to be loving. But Christ always is. So the best thing we can do when we realize we’re there is to first ask the Lord to pour out his grace on us and to love our spouse through us. Tell him that it feels impossible to love right now and ask him to make up for your lack.
Then, ask him for the grace to control your heart and mind.
When we’re in disillusionment, it’s easy to dwell on the reasons we don’t feel loved, on the moments of pain and suffering in our relationships. Those are just the things we want to avoid.
Instead, ask our Lord to remind you of the moments of great joy and love in your marriage. While the painful things that you’ve experienced are likely legitimate and need to be addressed with your spouse, focusing just on those isn’t going to help you repair or improve your marriage. Those things are not the entire picture, not matter how much the Evil One may want you to think so.
Satan is fighting for your marriage to end. We have to be realistic, to recognize that there is a force working against us who wants us to lose.
So when we find ourselves in disillusionment, we need to recognize that we’re not alone in the fight. And we also have to recognize that we cannot control our spouses. We only control ourselves and how we respond to what is in front of us.
So, the next thing we need to do after asking the Lord to love through us is to ask him for the will to fight for our marriages.
Sometimes, it might seem easier not to fight, like we just don’t have the energy for it anymore. So we ask for the grace to fight and the will to carry on.
Finally, to get out of the stage of disillusionment, the key will be to focus on gratitude. Your spouse has many wonderful attributes, praise God!
Instead of focusing on the ways it seems like they’re failing to love, focus on the small things they’re doing that are loving. Seek those things out and share them with your spouse.
Not only will sharing those things with your spouse challenge you to actually find those things about your spouse that you’re grateful for, but it also opens up the opportunity for conversation with your spouse.
Sometimes, we really do have to fake til you make it, as we love to say. You may legitimately feel like you can’t accept an apology or a gesture of love from your spouse. We totally get that. We’ve all been there. Instead of shrugging off the gesture, simply pray “God help me” and step out into it. You have to ask and then act. It works. We promise.
Disillusionment isn’t an easy thing to deal with. It can be a lonely, isolating place to be. Inviting the Lord into your life and marriage in those moments brings so much grace and healing so instead of dwelling on the hurt, invite our Lord in! And then share that grace with your spouse.
We promise, it’s worth it!
If you’d like to hear more on this topic, check out our latest podcast episode.