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5 Things Every Wife Needs to Know When Christmas Falls Short of Expectations

  • Sheila Qualls Contributing Writer
  • 2017 21 Dec
5 Things Every Wife Needs to Know When Christmas Falls Short of Expectations

People only say, “It’s the thought that counts” to dull the pain of a crummy gift. Many women will feel the sting of unmet expectations this Christmas. You can put salve on the sting of disappointment without drama or hurting your spouse’s feelings.

On our first Christmas as Mr. and Mrs., my husband reached underneath the tree and handed me a diamond necklace-diamond earring-gold watch-shaped sort of a box. When I opened it and pulled out a set of commemorative Liberty Coins–the Statue of Liberty coins–I cried. Hard.

History lesson: The U.S. government sold coins depicting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island to raise funds to refurbish the monuments in the 80s.

It’s selfish and ungrateful to cry over a gift. But, Liberty Coins were not a gift for me.

I wasn’t a coin collector nor had I ever expressed an interest in coin collecting. At that time, I’d never even seen the Statue of Liberty. I couldn’t even use the coins to buy something I wanted. Needless to say, I was disappointed.

I was upset because I didn’t think my husband was thinking of me when he gave me Liberty Coins. He was the coin collector.

I also cried because I thought of the hundreds of gift giving occasions to come.

At that time, I didn’t understand the reason for my hurt. I now know it was unmet expectations.

Disappointment is a terrible feeling. I knew my husband loved me, and I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. I knew if I didn’t say something, my hurt would come out as anger.

It’s pretty simple. James said in Chapter 4, Verses 1-2, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it.”

I wanted something, and I didn’t get it.

Maybe you’ve never been disappointed by an unmet expectation, but unmet expectations have caused a fair share of disappointment in our marriage.

We’ve been married for more than 30 years now. And, we laugh when we talk about the Liberty Coins. I haven’t always handled disappointment in the right way.

But I’ve learned how to identify the hurt of unmet expectations and how to deal with it.

Here are some ABC’s for dealing with disappointment in marriage:

1. Admit you’re upset. Don’t hold the feeling in and pretend nothing’s wrong.

2. Be kind with your words. Disappointment can sometimes come out as anger. Instead of immediately launching a verbal assault, remember that your husband loves you, so be careful not to say anything you’ll wish you hadn’t.

3. Consult with God. Pray and read Scripture.

4. Distance yourself from the situation. Sequestering myself for a little while usually puts me in a more level-headed state of mind and sometimes helps me see the situation from another point of view.

5. Express yourself without drama. Create an atmosphere for dialogue. When I’m upset or accusatory, I can put my husband in defense mode. It’s natural to want to defend yourself when someone attacks you.

My disappointment over the Liberty Coins was obvious. Once my husband figured out why I was upset, he was more than apologetic.

Liberty Coins aren’t a bad gift, if you like that sort of thing. I expected something different.

People–husbands, friends, relatives– will let you down at some point. When you’re hurting or disappointed because of an unmet expectation, ask God for the liberty through grace to forgive. 

Sheila Qualls is a former civilian journalist and editor for the Army’s award-winning newspaper, The Cannoneer, turned stay-at-home mom, writer, and speaker. She blogs at where she offers encouragement, humor and resources to help women recover from past experiences and find freedom and confidence in Christ. You can also follow her on Facebook at Better Together—Wife for Life. She and her husband have five children. They live in Minnesota.  

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/Grinvalds