Overcoming disillusionment in marriage

When feelings of disillusionment creep into your marriage, it can be very lonely. You might start to wonder what you did wrong, if things will ever get better, or if you married the wrong person. It’s important to remember that disillusionment is part of the deal—it’s common in marriage. But keep in mind is that disillusionment is only a feeling.

“I think when people feel disillusioned they automatically jump to conclusions that there is something wrong with this relationship. In a sense that’s right, because disillusionment can be kind of a signal to reorient ourselves, to see what’s going on, to see what might be amiss; but not to call the relationship itself into question, as if I am with the wrong person,” Fr. Dave Heney recently said on The Inner Life®. Fr. Dave is the host of Family Rosary Across America on Relevant Radio® and priest in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

“Disillusionment really is a feeling, and feelings come and go—there’s a natural cycle of feelings. There’s days that you will wake up and just feel euphoria and feel great, everything is wonderful and God is in the heavens and everything is right in the world. And other days you could wake up and it’s just completely the opposite.”

First, Fr. Dave recommends that you look at the possible causes of your disillusionment. Are you sleeping well, exercising, eating well? “Sometimes when I’ve told people to address those issues, all of a sudden what they thought were relationship issues went away. So that’s an easy thing to take care of first.”

married couple walks on the beach

“Disillusionment surmises you had an illusion about what your life was going to be and it it’s not working out. That’s a more serious issue where you’re really calling into question even the life that you’re in now. Some of the signs are lack of energy, lack of interest, sometimes there’s a sense of humiliation … and sometimes there’s a feeling of being trapped. So these are serious, but again, they’re all feelings,” says Fr. Dave.

“The main thing is for people to recognize that this is an emotion that you’re feeling … and that right away should hopefully be a signal that it’s only a temporary and transitory thing. That a little bit of talking through and seeing what the larger picture is can be a great help in changing that feeling.”

Seth called to share that he and his wife have been married for 13 years and it wasn’t always easy – after their twin girls were born, they were so busy taking care of the babies and lost communication with each other. After his wife asked him to attend a marriage retreat, they returned to the Church and invited God and love back into their marriage.

“It’s very common for couples to get married, have a number of kids, and then get really consumed into the management of a family—taking care of the house, taking care of kids, going to school, lunches, the management of a household—and they forget about managing their relationship. They forget about their marriage, they’re really two people managing a household,” says Fr. Dave. Make it a priority to regularly share your deepest thoughts with your spouse, to break down those barriers and reconnect with one another.

Sts. Zelie and Louis Martin, patron saints of married couples, pray for us!

Listen to the full podcast here.

Lindsey is a wife, mother, and contributing author at Relevant Radio. She holds a degree in Journalism and Advertising from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Lindsey enjoys writing, baking, and liturgical living with her young family.