In this article, I am going to discuss how to deal with disappointments in life. The article is based on the discussion I had with my guest, Julie loin. She is talking about her experiences in marriage and with kids. She is a mother of four and has a wonderful adoring husband (They play music for adoration).
You can probably guess that they have a wonderful marriage, and everything has been perfect in their life. So who better to speak on this than her? Oh, wait. No, not everything has been perfect in her life. If you have ever tuned into some of our podcasts with her, then you would know that she said many times that people think they have the perfect marriage and it does look like that from the outside, but on the inside, oftentimes it is a different story.
Bryan: We go to church, we go to friends’ houses and everything seems perfect. But then at home there are a lot of disappointments. There are a lot of struggles. Anything from low self-esteem to struggling with who I am as a person to I’m not happy in this marriage, to my spouse stinks right now, I’m mad at them, my kids are disappointing me. There are so many things that can go wrong and there are so many disappointments in marriage. But how do we deal with these? So many people expect marriage to basically be like you’re going to be happy forever after and that there’s not going to be many disappointments. But in reality, anyone who knows what marriage is about knows that love takes work.
To find that beautiful mountaintop experience that you think all of marriage is, actually takes a lot of work. And there are a lot of disappointments on the way. There’s a lot of falling and breaking your leg, climbing up that mountain. There’s a lot of healing. There’s a lot of growth. And then you reach the pinnacle experience. Then when you’re there, you just love it. And then you fall back down, you start over and you go to a higher mountain where it’s even more beautiful and so it starts over. Does that sound like an accurate depiction of marriage, and life, I guess, in general?
Julie: My husband Mike and I were just talking about this idea of people getting married and they just have this beautiful image in mind of a Disney princess movie who lives happily ever after and where everything works out perfectly. If you go into a mentality that your kids are going to be perfect, your job will be perfect, your spouse will be perfect. You will be disappointed. There are only so many things in life you can be certain of: One, is that you are going to suffer in life. Two, is that someday you will die. Everything else is uncertain. So, if you go into marriage with these really high expectations of perfection, you will be disappointed, but I don’t mean to be like doom and gloom on that. It is a beautiful journey and so many wonderful things come out. And your concept of hitting the mountaintop and then falling, but then you climb it again only to see more beautiful mountaintop, is truth.
Bryan: If you expect life just to be happy, it is not going to be, because Jesus himself said that you need to pick up your cross and follow me if you ever hope to have a life with me in heaven. So, it is kind of a big thing, but he will give us beauty and joy and many wonderful things all along the way. And Julie, the concept of the Disney princess movies you mentioned before, I think that’s actually a huge problem in our culture, especially for women. They get into these, “chick flicks”, these romance novels and movies where everything just goes perfectly even though it’s depicting a super unhealthy and not actually good relationship. But somehow it just all works out in the end. Like we hate each other, and we are fighting all the time, but we make it work, and then we grow old together and die. It just does not work that way. If you actually lived in “the Notebook” movie and fought as the movie says 99.9% of the time, you’re going to get divorced probably, or you’re going to be miserable in marriage. You are not going to end up like they do. That is just fake. And in fact, the movie is fake because in the book they do not end up like that, they don’t die together. So what we see at the end is not actually the reality to the book or to life.
I think this can confuse a lot of people like thinking: “That’s just so cute”. I actually have a book, it’s called: For better forever. It talks about those top 7% of marriages and how to have one. It goes at the beginning of the book, through different kinds of marriages: The worst marriages are known as shipwrecked marriages. A step above that, is storybook marriages. Those are the people who think they are just going to find happily ever after and that it is going to be just like in the movies. And they end up finding someone based on emotions and feelings, and it just ends up being miserable because it’s not based in deep reality about who the person is. The author, Gregory Popcak, goes all the way up to the exceptional marriages, which are the top 7%. So I highly recommend reading this book as a reference. There is always going to be disappointments in marriage and I don’t think Hollywood helps us to realize that.
Julie: I completely agree. I think what we are really striving for is a saintly marriage. Those top 7% that we are hoping to be part of, are the saintly marriages.
Those are the people that give their life to God. You cannot get to that point, unless the marriage is fully centered up around Christ, fully given in every way: struggles, disappointments, children, difficult job. Everything you do should be geared towards Christ. My husband and I were just talking about him going to work and the attitude is not that he is so thrilled to go to work today but there’s a reality that no matter where you are in your life, it’s never going to be perfect, but you have to find ways to be fulfilled and you have to let God work through you. I have the same experience at home with our four kids. I can be like: “I don’t really want to do this today. You know, things like cleaning and cooking and playing. I just want to sit sometimes and read Dustyesky’s book. I just want to enter into my own little world and do my thing. But I’m choosing to love today. I’m choosing them over me.” And it’s hard.
Some days it’s really easy. Some days I feel I’m great. I just played with the kids, we got outside, we went for a walk. It was really great. Other days I’m like: “Wow, that was a really tough day.”
Bryan: You did not want to do anything with the kids? I am impressed or surprised! And I totally understand because some days it’s complete saturation all the time, and sometimes you just need a day off, but you chose to love, you chose to do what’s right. You chose to do what’s good. And many people would get cranky about it: “I don’t want to deal with you today. Go play, you are bothering me.” And they start infecting these toxicities upon their kids, which are only going to wound them and damage them for life. But you chose a beautiful path, even though it was really difficult for you. And that’s true. Love is doing what is right for the other person, no matter how hard it is and no matter how much of a sacrifice it is for you.
Julie: You take those moments and you try to work through them. And I think if you look at the big picture. If you think: “I have to do this for the next 15-20 years,” it is overwhelming. But if you take it day by day and ask God to give you the grace for each of those days, it is easier to find the joys. It is easier to find the happiness within those moments.
Bryan: And Julie you recently have some difficulties, haven’t you? We were supposed to hang out and then do a podcast together and then the whole thing blew up right?
Julie: Yeah. We also had family coming for a visit. I had play dates planned. We were supposed to spend the whole weekend with Mike’s family. And then our littlest who is 2, he got Croup, which for most kids, is not a big deal. But he was born such a tiny baby. He wasn’t a preemie but he was just born small, like three and a half pounds full-term. So, everything is just smaller on him. So when he got a common cold, he got infected in the lungs and he got Croup and couldn’t breathe. It is the most horrifying thing in the world. So, for two straight nights, I slept with him like sitting upright. Then it went from Croup to a horrific cold, to double pink eye too. I was at CVS picking up his medicine for his Croup to open up his lungs with steroids, and I’m holding him. And there was this guy behind me in line, as we were about to check out, and my son just vomits all over him. So, I thought: “This is my life!” I took a breath. I cleaned everything up. I got it all figured out. But my kid is so sick, it stopped everything I had planned.
There was that disappointment of: “Now, I don’t get to go to the pool party. Now I don’t get to go hang out with Bryan.” And so you get a moment…
Bryan: That I do not get to do anything that I needed to do, that I wanted to do.
Julie: I was stuck at home. I was staring at a wall, staring at a sick baby. And it was hard. So, I found ways to go outside, go pray, read books.
Bryan: I was just going to say, it is at those moments that a lot of people would actually become bitter: “I lost out on this. I really wanted to go to this.” The disappointment sets in, maybe sadness and maybe anger, just anger at the kids’, anger at parenthood. Like just these extremes can make us think just: “Why am I doing all of this?” You seem to not have gone that path completely. You seem to have found more positive ways to deal with it perhaps?
Julie: It could have gone both ways. Mike helped me a lot because he kept thanking me. You know: “Thank you for staying home.” He took the other kids to see the cousins who were in town from Virginia, and he took them to the pool party. And even at one point he was like: “I will come home. You go to the pool party, you get out of the house for a little bit.” And he was very willing to sacrifice his time for me. And so, it helped a lot versus if he had just like done his thing, not contacted me. So that helped me to stay out of that bitter state. And obviously I stayed home with my kid but I was just very grateful for my spouse helping me and thanking me and just recognizing the sacrifice that I was making for the family.
Bryan: So, what are some ways that people can maybe deal with these disappointments or struggles, just not only with kids, but we even have struggles and disappointment with spouses. They don’t love us the way we need to be loved. They don’t help us the way we want them to help us. They disappoint us constantly. Only God can fulfill us completely. So how did you deal with some of these things?
Julie: I think one of the main things is not to ignore the situation. I think a lot of people will pretend everything’s fine. We can get in this mentality of happy and lucky all the time. I think recognizing your situation and the difficulties that you’re in is good. Being frustrated, being angry is not a problem. It’s when you become, and actually Father Mike Schmidt talks about this, in the Woe is me mentality: “Poor me. I am the victim. This is hard for me. Everyone should feel sorry for me.” When you start going down that path, that’s a really slippery slope. So, in those moments, when you’re about to hit that and you are thinking this is awful for me, it is drawing yourself and pulling yourself out and finding things to be grateful for, that is important. I think that’s number one. I think when you can be grateful for your situation, I’m grateful I have my baby who is now breathing. It could be the most minute thing. I am grateful that today the sun is out so I can go sit outside with my sick baby. Being grateful, pulls you out of your woe is me mentality.
Bryan: I like what you said, you pull yourself out of that. You pull yourself back into love. You pull yourself instead of going into self-centeredness, which is the opposite of love. And that could be a dark road If you keep going down. My wife and I are having a second child and we don’t have any room for that child. We have grown out of this small apartment. We need something else, but the market is not good and there are a lot of other issues. I have been finding myself saying: “God, why don’t you just drop a house down for us to move into? Why can’t we just find something?” Or even struggling with different things like staying at home versus working and other different disappointments. And so, I’ve just been thanking God lately for the apartment that we have: “Thank you for this apartment, Lord.” We have had so many parties here. We have had so many bible studies here. We have had so many friends. Even though we have never really liked it, we have made it a place of love for as many people as possible, you know? “We thank you for all the memories that we’ve had here. Thank you for the daughter that we do have, thank you for the food that we have.” And I do try to be grateful. And I really do think that keeps us out of the tank of depression and anxiety, focusing on the positive and what God does and what he will do in our life.
That’s the gift of hope, trusting that he does have what is best for you in mind. He is not going to disappoint.
Julie: I think going with that, Father Mike Scanlan wrote a book that I found in college years. I was sitting in a chapel and I just picked up this little book about how to pray during adoration. I use this book not just in adoration but especially in these moments that are really difficult. When you go to God. First, you give him glory. You pull yourself out because it is not about you. It is about him: “Praise you God. We give you glory. We honor you. We love you. You are the rock. You are a refuge.” Then you give thanks. Then you bring your petition and in doing that, it draws you outside of that self-centeredness. And it is a really beautiful way of pulling yourself through.
I also think a piece of that is fear. Fear can oftentimes stifle us in doing what God wants or living how God wants. We have those moments frequently. For instance, the fear of not finding a new home for your growing family or for us, our cars are all breaking down.
Bryan: Yes, exactly. Fear. Like finding you’re not going to have anything. Fear that your kids are always going to be sick and you’re going to lose out and not going to have any fun in life. And you’re going to be miserable for the rest of your life. And we have a tendency to awfulize everything.
I think that’s a really good point that you make is that you don’t just ask for stuff all the time. You praise God. You thank God. That’s super important. And in fact, I heard that Saint Francis of Assisi, every time something bad in his life happened, he used to praise God until it went away. He focuses on how good God is, how wonderful God is, how many wonderful things God has done for him in his life. How beneficial this is going to be to his soul and how God’s going to make it up to him. No matter what circumstances we are in, praise him in all the weathers or seasons of our soul. That is a good reminder for everyone that we need to praise God more and also ask him but trust him as well.
Julie: I think going along with that faith and that praising God, goes the trust that you are mentioning. That trust that God will provide. I was listening to a podcast about a priest working with the sisters in Calcutta. He was talking to the sisters, and they found out it was his birthday. And so, the sisters were like: “We will throw you a party.” And he’s laughing because the sisters have nothing, and he was wondering what are they going to throw him a party with? He was mocking them a bit jokingly. And she said: “God will provide.” Later that day, a truckload comes in of donations and there, on top was a blue and white cake. And she goes: “See, God provided your birthday cake and it’s Marian.” And he asks the sister: “How did you know there was going to be a cake?” And she says: “I didn’t. I just prayed to our lady.” And they have never received cake so that was just a random donation. His mind was blown of the faith she had.