Wife POV: My husband disappoints me (except he's actually amazing - sorry this is clickbait)
Updated: Feb 3, 2022
My sophomore year of college, my roommate and I watched 51 too many Rom Coms together. I will always remember when she innocently asked aloud, “Do you think all of these chick flicks are ruining our perception of reality?” We laughed it off. Later that summer, I came across an article on BBC online. This was pre-“clickbait” days, so the headline spelled it out very directly: “Romantic Comedies set women up for failure – false expectations create relationship conflicts.” I sent it to my roommate. We laughed it off again, this time with some unease.
Fast forward almost 15 years and I can say without a doubt: my perception of reality was 100% ruined. False expectations and subsequent relationship conflicts are the air I breathe!
Maybe it’s not fair to blame everything on Hollywood. We can call out Disney, too. And also maybe Jane, and all of the timeless romantic novelists that followed her. Okay so I don’t want to blame Jane because she was just so lovely but … I digress.
The point is, it’s pretty much all my fault and it’s easier to blame someone else. As much as I’ve heard Catholic speakers/priests/et al proclaim “Don’t expect your husband to meet all of your desires, only God can!” That voice of truth is fighting against years of my brain’s synapses cemented together with princess kisses.
My husband and I were recently going through a rough patch. The rough patches are the MOST frustrating times, because I know we can be better. I have seen us be better, and I know – with work – we can come out of the rough patch even better than ever. But the mini-purgatory period just hurts.
I complained, “I just need you to kiss me better! I just need you to understand my every want and desire! I just wish you would have figured out how to arouse me sexually a little better by now…”
In this latest rough patch, I paused and repeated my complaints back to myself. I realized (again) I was projecting Hollywood on him. I remembered (again) that Hollywood rarely ever (at all?) portrays a “normal” romantic relationship. Either the movie ends with the two people finally getting together (cue the credits and romantic music!) or the movie is about a marriage dramatically falling apart. A normal relationship is too dynamic for the screen. A normal relationship involves sometimes squabbling and sometimes delightedly thriving. A normal relationship involves sacrifice and compromise and a lot of long, boring talking it out. Nobody wants to see that on the screen: cinema and tv are supposed to be our escape from the norm!
I won’t go on, because I’m sure most of you have heard this.
Here is also why I’m disappointed (and something we talk about less). My husband entered our marriage with an unfortunate history of porn usage. He has worked so hard, and over 5 years later, has made amazing progress. But when we were dating and I casually asked him about his history with porn, I changed the subject too soon after he said “yes.” I didn’t understand how much damage there’d already been, nor did I expect the baggage that was coming with it. I didn’t expect that 3 years into our marriage I’d still be breaking down in equal parts sadness and anger that he’d fallen into it again. I didn’t expect that I’d spend many of our sexual moments wondering “would he be better at this if porn hadn’t tainted his ideas of sex?”
Here's what I’m learning: could have, should have, would have. If I could go back in time and have an intellectual conversation with my 4-year-old self about the downsides of Cinderella, maybe I would. It would be great if I could take that same time machine and talk my adolescent husband out of viewing porn. We both should have known better. We could have done things differently. (Our parents could have monitored us better…but let’s stop blaming parents.) Here we are, both broken people, both trying to be better. We both know that our growth will only come through prayer and the grace of God. Also lots of hard work, and sacrifice, and commitment, and long, boring (at least boring to the outside world) talking it out.
My husband is now trying to kiss me better (he is an amazing man – and so not at all a disappointment! Sorry again for the clickbait title…). I am trying (again) to stop wishing he’d read my mind, and get back to praying more. Cue the credits: we’re living as happily ever as we can.