How to Feel Disappointed in Your Marriage

January 6, 2019

David Sorn

Find out 3 reasons why many people feel disappointed by their marriages today, and then discover how to begin turning things around!

How to Feel Disappointed in Your Marriage

January 6, 2019

David Sorn

Find out 3 reasons why many people feel disappointed by their marriages today, and then discover how to begin turning things around!


(Happily Ever After slide)

Marriage is a funny thing.

It’s amazing and wonderful…but just as easily can be frustrating and infuriating…causing many to wonder if it’s even worth it.

In 1960, 72% of all adults were married.

Today, only 48% of adults are married.

That’s a SIGNIFICANT drop in just two generations.

And it’s in part because people are having a harder time believing that marriage is even worth it.

(Happily Even After Slide)

They’ve lived through the difficulties

Or grew up in a family where marriage wasn’t a “pretty thing”

and they’ve decided…nah, marriage is not for me.

And YET…AND YET…according to Gallup, over 90% of Americans still want to be married…whether they are, were, and never have been.

That’s fascinating! Just fascinating!

We say, “Nah, I just couldn’t do marriage…but I kind of want to…but it would never work…but if it did!”

That’s the “State of Marriage in America”

No one out there is saying, “I don’t believe love is possible”

People are still dreaming, and writing songs, and making romantic comedies about falling in love with the credits rolling as the bride & groom kiss on the wedding day.

But the question I think everyone is asking is: “Can we be happy…EVEN AFTER?”

Even after the wedding?

So what we’re going to do, for 4 weeks in January, is try and look to God’s Word (the Bible) and find answers on how to have a Godly, and even a happy, marriage.

I want to challenge you to commit to coming for all 4 weeks of the series.

If you haven’t set a new year’s resolution yet, there you goJ

Now, I realize, that in a church this size, not all of you are married.

Some of you are divorced, some widowed, some of you are dating, some of you are single, some of you are 14.

Regardless of where you’re at, I think there will be much to glean in this series.

Most of it can be applied to any relationship

And many of you who aren’t married now may be married in the future…

And there’s no better time to learn, than now.

And I get there are a whole bunch of nuanced situations in this room.

What if my husband isn’t a believer?

What if my wife is about to leave me?

This is why we have House Groups.

You’ll get a chance to join the conversation…and talk about your situation this week in your group…and get counsel form Godly people.

If you’re not in a group yet, like 80% of our adults are, stop by the table, and sign-up today, as 2nd semester starts this week!

Let me say one more thing about these next 4 weeks before we really dive in:

The majority of you, at some point in this 4-week series are going to feel pretty challenged. Perhaps uncomfortable. You might even feel angry.

But when you feel those things…measure them against what God’s Word is saying…not just my words.

Check it: Is it just something some guy in Blaine is saying on a stage?

Or is it the Word of God for your life…and if it is…then it’s worth living out…every if it’s painful…or difficult.


(Put up Title Slide: “How to feel disappointed in Marriage”)

All right, one of the things I’ve noticed about marriages nowadays is that WAY too many people feel disappointed by their marriage.

Some feel SO disappointed that they get divorced…

Others of you are thinking about divorce…

Many of you feel trapped…like you’re in a marriage that isn’t giving you any real sense of joy any more, and most days are just filled with disappointment

But everyone in this room, who’s married, has felt disappointed from time to time.

Which is part life when you’re not living in a Disney fairy tale.

All of you who are married, married sinners. J

But why is it that so many people feel stuck in a “state of disappointment” in their marriage?

I want to submit to you this morning that the main reason we feel such disappointment in marriage is because we have placed the wrong expectations upon our marriage.

And so I what I want to do this morning is cover THREE ways to feel disappointed in marriage

These are 3 things to NOT believe about your marriage

3 Things…that if believed…are going to cause you great frustration and disappointment.

And yet, they are incredibly common beliefs of the culture around us.

Before we get to the 3 ways though…let’s look to God’s Word…and His plan for marriage.

(Page 949)

(renovation app)

Because we’re going to compare and contrast this with the world’s version of relationships

(Ephesians 5:21-33) – NIV

21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Okay, we’ll keep coming back to that…but let’s look now to the culture’s way…this is a surefire way to feel disappointed;

3 Ways to Feel Disappointed in Marriage

1. Measure Your Marriage by what You’re Feeling

This is the predominant way that our culture assesses how a marriage is doing.

We ask, “Do I FEEL in love?”

I’ve been a pastor for 15 years now, and I’ve sat across from TOO many people who’ve said, “I’m getting a divorce…because I don’t feel in love anymore”

And so what we do is we measure the success of our marriages by our FEELINGS:

And if we don’t FEEL in love, and instead what we FEEL is annoyance, or frustration, or hatred…

Then our feelings tell us that our marriage isn’t successful, and perhaps it’s time for it to end.

Now, let me say this before we go any further in this series.

Yes, divorce is wrong.

Scripture is clear about that.

God even says He hates it…hates what it does to people…to families.

But we believe in forgiveness.

Divorced people aren’t second-class citizens here

We all sin, and we all can be forgiven.

Okay? Good.

If you’ve been here for some time, you know that I like to quote studies a lot…but the kind of studies I like the most are longitudinal studies.

Those are the ones that track people over a long period of time…rather than just ask them a question once.

There was a longitudinal study done on marriage that discovered that 2/3 of marriages that are currently rated as “unhappy” will become happy within 5 years if the people just stay married and don’t get divorced.

That didn’t even say, “if the people go to counseling…or work really, really hard on it”

It just said, “Even if they all they do is just stay married, 66% of them will be happy again within 5 years”

And if they go to counseling, even better!

I believe every couple should get counseling at least one or two times…this thing is hard work!

I know I’m a relatively young guy (I turn 37 in a few weeks…I’m so young that I’m still apparently rounding my age UPWARD for you)

But I got married young, and have been married for about 15 years, which is longer than about 75% of people in this room…so there a few things I’ve learned..

For example, marriage, just like we say all the time about faith, is a rollercoaster.

And apologies to my wife for having to live with me through the low times.

But even though some of those low times can feel pretty low, and even pretty long at times, the rollercoaster always comes back up.

Talk to any couple who has been married for 30 or 40 years, and they will tell that you’re going to have many difficult stretches, and maybe 3, 4, even 5 incredibly difficult stretches.

But after winter comes spring…if you keep with it.

If you don’t only measure your marriage by only what you feel

And you get to see Spring Arise After Winter if you remember that marriage is a covenant (in the Bible that’s a BINDING promise that you don’t revoke)

We’re going to keep coming back to this during this series, and I’ve said this next thing to you 1,000 times before, and I’ll say it you 10,000 more times in the future:

It’s marriage that keeps love alive, not love that keeps marriage alive.

It’s that you’re committed to one another, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, in good times and bad…

It’s the commitment to weather the storms together that allows you to experience “Happily EVEN after”

What does the Scripture say marriage is supposed to be?

Paul, the author of this letter, says it’s a reflection of Jesus Christ’s relationship with the church.

Husbands should LOVE their wives like Jesus loves us.

And how does He love us?

He tells us that He will NEVER leave us nor forsake us…no matter what we do.

That’s His COVENANT with us.

And marriage is meant to be a reflection of that.

In preparation for this series, I’ve been reading 2 fantastic books that I want to recommend to you:

One is Gary Thomas’ “Sacred Marriage”

And the other is Timothy Keller’s “meaning of marriage”

If you’re looking to dive deeper on this subject, I encourage you to get on to Amazon, and order one of those…or both.

Look what Timothy Keller says about this subject:

Years ago I attended a wedding in which the couple wrote their own vows. They said something like this: “I love you, and I want to be with you.” The moment I heard it, I realized what all historic Christian marriage vows had in common, regardless of their theological and denominational differences.

The people I was listening to were expressing their current love for each other, and that was fine and moving. But that is not what marriage vows are. That is not how a covenant works. Wedding vows are not a declaration of present love but a mutually binding promise of future love. A wedding should not be primarily a celebration of how loving you feel now—that can safely be assumed. Rather, in a wedding you stand up before God, your family and all the main institutions of society, and you promise to be loving, faithful and true to the other person in the future, regardless of internal feelings or external circumstances. – Timothy Keller

To truly LOVE someone isn’t just to feel something for them, it’s to be committed to them…no matter what.

Before we get to the next reason, let me tell you that we want to give you a lot of practical help in this too:

We want to help you know HOW to weather the storms…we want to help you improve in your communication skills…and we want to give you practical steps in improving your marriage.

It’s THAT important to us as a church.

(Marriage Seminar Slide)

And so, for the first time-ever, we’re going to be offering a FREE Marriage Seminar over the next 3 Saturdays, from 9am-12pm at our church offices.

And listen, if you can make at least 2 out of the 3 of these, and you know this would be great for your marriage, I want you to sign-up today.

You can in our app (under the connect tab) or in the hallway

The Seminar is going to be taught by Dave Anderson.

Dave is an attender at our church, but was a pastor for 40 years, has a degree in marriage & family therapy, and has been married to his wife Debbie for 47 years

He’s going to be drawing on the wisdom and teaching of many experts, and he has much to share from his own wealth of knowledge as well.

This is limited to just 20 couples.

So sign-up as soon as you can.

WRONG IDEA #2: Believe that your spouse is there to fulfill and serve you

3 Ways to Feel Disappointed in Marriage

1. Measure Your Marriage by what You’re Feeling

2. Believe that your spouse is there to fulfill and serve you

This is a big one.

In today’s world, people are looking not just for someone to do life with, or raise a family with, or, most importantly, serve God with.

But instead, the culture tells us to find someone who accepts us as we are and fulfills our desires (makes us happy).

Now, if that sounds like a strawman argument, I assure you it isn’t.

If you’re already married, think back to the time you weren’t.

What did you want in a spouse?

Unless you were some SUPER SUPER mature believer (if so, good for you)

Most of us wanted:

Someone who was attractive

Someone who made us happy when we were around them

Someone who would take care of us

Someone who liked who we were

We basically wanted (what I just said!) someone who would fulfill our desires, make us happy, and love for us who we are.

Now, I’m not saying, “You should go find someone who makes you feel miserable”

But we must realize there’s a downside to this kind of consumeristic and cultural thinking

When you marry someone for their looks and for how they fulfill you

You’re setting yourself up for disappointment.

For one, if you’re young, I hate to break it to you, but your looks (and your spouses’ looks) are going to change

Ladies…he might have a 6-pack now, but at 45, chances are… (chances are low)

And secondly, when you enter into a marriage with the purpose of being fulfilled and served by the other person, you only end up feeling disappointed in the end.

What if that person…10 years into the marriage…gets a chronic illness and isn’t able to serve you well at all?

What we fail to see…is the marriage from the other person’s perspective.

Even though Americans believe less than ever in marriage, their expectations FOR what they should “get out of marriage” are higher than ever.

Most Americans want their spouse to make them happy, serve them, fulfill them

…and YET…we would prefer that…that same spouse not put any demands or constraints on how we live our lives.

It’s all rather insane actually.

We want them to do everything to make us happy…fulfill us…serve us…, but then make no demands on us changing who we are…

Goodness, you’re looking for a robot!

But the Bible’s description of marriage is entirely different…and much more helpful!

Look at verse 21 again

(Ephesians 5:21) – NIV

21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

This is called MUTUAL submission.

Wives are told to submit to their husbands like they do to Jesus.

To serve them…to live in such a way that their husbands can feel respected (as verse 33 says), and loved, and supported to follow Christ.

And lest you think husbands get off easy, husbands are told to love their wives as Christ loved the church..

What did Jesus do for us, the church?

He was sacrificed on a cross for us!

Husbands are supposed to live completely sacrificially…to sacrifice their selfish desires in the marriage…so that their wives can be loved and supported to follow Christ.

This is so different from the rest of our culture

The world looks at marriage as an opportunity to find someone who will serve them and make them happy.

Christians are to look at marriage as an opportunity to find someone whom WE can serve and make happy.

And if you’ve read the Bible, this shouldn’t be shocking!

(Philippians 2:3-4) – NIV

3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

(1 Corinthians 3:4-5) – NIV

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

And we know all of this about putting others first, etc.…it’s almost Sunday school stuff for Christians.

But it’s like we keep throw all of those Christian principles out the window when it comes to our marriages.

And we get so bitterly disappointed that the other person isn’t making us happy.

They’re not treating us like they should

They’re not doing anything with their life

They’re difficult to be around

And this ties into the 3rd way to be really disappointed by your marriage:


3 Ways to Feel Disappointed in Marriage

1. Measure Your Marriage by what You’re Feeling

2. Believe that your spouse is there to fulfill and serve you

3. Determine that the REAL problem…is your spouse

This is the “Great stalemate” to marriage.

You fall in love, your head over heels in infatuation, married for a year…

And then…it starts…with a simple argument about, “What do you want for dinner?”

And how they always want “you to cook”

And pretty soon it’s, “You never clean-up”

And then it’s, “I wish you’d stop asking me to share my feelings on everything…can’t I go just hang out with my buddies?'

And then it’s, “I feel like you don’t how to talk to me”

And we develop this great, long list of what this “sinner” that we live with needs to change.

And we falsely BELIEVE that if they would just get to work on changing themselves, THEN, we could be happy again in our marriage.

And it’s that belief that’s leading to such disappointment in marriage for so many.

You’ve got a list…they aren’t doing it…and so you’re stuck in disappointment.

But the Bible tells you how to get unstuck…out of disappointment.

It’s mutual submission. That’s the message of Ephesians 5.

And mutual submission starts with you.

You find joy in your marriage again, counterintuitively, by serving the other person, not just waiting for them to serve you.

And listen, I get that some people, in 2019, may find that idea oppressive.

I assure you it is not.

It’s the only way to HAPPILY EVEN AFTER.

Gary Thomas says it this way:

“You won’t find happiness at the end of a road called selfishness” - Gary Thomas

Just waiting for the other person to make you feel happy and serve you is insane…and it’ll never work!

But if you trust God’s way…what often happens is the other person notices a change in you…

They experience your service, your love, your sacrifice…and those are the very things that soften their heart, and moves them to love you back again.

But you WILL be disappointed in marriage if you just keep thinking THEY’RE the real problem…THEY need to change.

What did Paul write in Ephesians today?

We’re BOTH supposed to take the initiative to serve, sacrifice, love…

And there’s no, “As long as she’s doing a good job of serving you first…then you can give yourself up for her”

No, what’s our model???

Our model is Romans 5:8 – Christ died for us while we were still sinners.

He didn’t wait for us to earn his love and sacrifice.

He didn’t wait for us to be good enough

That’s the Gospel.

There was a couple once that had been married for 15 years, and they began having more than just usual disagreements…

They wanted to make their marriage work and agreed on an idea the wife had.

For one month they planned to drop a slip in a Fault box every time they found fault with the other person.

The boxes would provide a place to let the other know about daily irritations.

The wife was diligent in her efforts and approach:

She wrote notes that said things like, “Leaving the jelly top off of the jar, wet towels on the shower floor, dirty socks not in hamper, on and on until the end of the month.”

After dinner, at the end of the month, they exchanged boxes.

The husband reflected on what he had done wrong.

Then the wife opened her box and began reading.

They were all the same.

The message on every single slip, simply read: “I love you”

I love you, I love you, I love you.

This is the Gospel. He loved us despite our faults. He loved us FIRST.

Remember, God didn’t woo you to follow Him by giving you a list of things to change first.

But how did He do it?

How did He capture your heart?!?

He wooed you with his sacrifice, his service, his love, his forgiveness.

That’s how people are moved.

And THAT’S how you will change your marriage!

By imitating Him!

Let me pray.

Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

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