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Are These 9 Expectations Hurting Your Marriage?

What kinds of unrealistic or unbiblical expectations could I have of my husband that may lead to resentment in my heart? Let’s look at a few of the biggest ones I’ve seen may lead to problems.

The Hollywood Romance Expectation

If I expect my husband to act like a fictional romantic male lead in a romantic comedy or romance novel, I am probably going to be disappointed. He is a real-life man. He doesn’t have a professional scriptwriter writing a long-thought-out romantic script for him.

Yes, the writers know how to make ladies swoon in those books and movies. And real-life romance is different from that. But it can be even more beautiful if we are willing to change our expectations and appreciate what we have.

The “Women and Men Should Be the Same” Expectation

Or if I expect him to act, think, and feel just like I do and don’t account for the fact that he is a guy, not a woman, that will create a problem because I expect him to be someone he is not. I don’t understand who he actually is and accept and admire who he is.

Men have different bodies and even different chemistry and structure in their brains than women do. It’s not fair for me to expect my husband to act and think like I do. It’s not healthy for either of us.

If we expect our men to connect emotionally the way a woman would, with lots of face-to-face time and talking about emotions, we will probably be disappointed, too. That is not how most real men bond. They tend to bond with more shoulder-to-shoulder activities and physical connection (usually, but not always).

The “He Should Have the Same Personality I Do” Expectation

If I expect him to have the same love language I do, I may be upset because he is different from me. And different is not bad. It’s just different. In fact, our differences are what can help us grow in appreciation and teamwork if we can embrace them and celebrate them.

Most husbands and wives have different personalities. It is our differences that often attract us. Each personality has its own strengths and weaknesses. God can use the differences to help us grow in Christlikeness and our marriage if we will trust Him and His design.

The “My Love Will Change Him” Expectation

If I want to change him to make him more who I want him to be and look at him as my “project,” things probably won’t go well. A man thrives when his woman sees the best in him and accepts him for who he is.

No one enjoys being someone’s project. Or being looked down upon as someone who needs to be fixed. That feels incredibly disrespectful and is a huge turnoff for any remotely healthy man.

People don’t like to feel controlled or to feel like other people want to change them.

The “He Should Be My Servant” Expectation

If I expect my husband to do everything I want him to do all the time (and be my robot) I am probably going to be disappointed in marriage.

Yes, it’s awesome when husbands love in sacrificial, selfless ways. But I don’t get to demand that of him or coerce him into doing whatever I want whenever I would like.

He does have free will. He can say, “no,” and he may even have good reasons for not doing what I would like all the time. Also, he is the God-given leader of the home, so it is helpful if I can adjust to have a cooperative attitude with him, unless he is asking me to sin.

I can appreciate it when he does sweet things for me. I can make respectful suggestions and requests. I can use my God-given influence wisely. But I can respond with dignity and poise when he asks me to wait or says, “no.” My godly example speaks powerfully to my husband and may inspire him to want to be a better man.

The “He Should Make Me Happy” Expectation

My husband is not responsible for my emotional or spiritual wellbeing. Those are inside jobs. I have the controls over those things. He doesn’t. He can do sweet things for me. But my thoughts, my attitudes, and my character depend on my decisions and my spiritual maturity in Christ, not on my husband.

If I expect my husband to be responsible for my happiness, we will both end up feeling pretty miserable and unhappy.

Unbiblical Expectations

If I have a lot of unbiblical expectations, I will also probably end up feeling resentful. Some wives expect their husbands to pray with them out loud each day and read a devotional together with them once per day.

These things, and others, are often great. They would be awesome if that is what the husband wants to do. But there is no command in Scripture that a husband must pray out loud with his wife. (I’ve looked. I’m sure it happened for people in Bible times, but it’s not recorded in Scripture.)

The most important things is that each person spend private time with the Lord. Jesus emphasized that a lot. Different people have different ways of praying. Some like to write their prayers. Some like to pray silently. Some feel like if they pray out loud, they may not have the same motives as if they pray alone. Some like to share prayer requests and pray together. Others like to share requests and pray alone. And some like to involve the whole family. All of these methods are great!

Of course, if your husband isn’t a believer, he may not want to pray at all. However, he may be open sometimes to you asking if there is anything he’d like for you to pray about for him, if he doesn’t feel pressured.

Other unbiblical expectations can include things like expecting for me to be in charge as a wife, expecting my husband to put me before God in his heart, expecting to never ever have conflict or disagreements, expecting to handle conflict in unbiblical ways, and many more.

The “He Has to Have the Same Personal Convictions I Do” Expectation

Husbands and wives will have different personal convictions. That’s okay! My personal convictions are private between God and me. I don’t get to define what sin is. If my husband has a different conviction about tithing, I don’t have to fight him. I can share what I would like to do and then see what his conviction is.

I don’t get to force him to change his personal convictions. Ultimately, if we don’t agree, I can be cooperative with his leading, if he is not leading into something sinful.

The “He Should Lead Like I Want Him to” Expectation

Or maybe I expect my husband to lead by having a meeting with me once a week about how everything is going, asking for my feedback, and giving me a printed sheet with graphs about how I am doing as a wife, how he is doing as a husband, and with 10 things on a to-do list for each of us for the next week to improve our marriage and family life.

But my husband may not lead that way. Just because his style is different doesn’t mean he is a bad leader. I may need to adjust my expectations. Maybe he leads in a more subtle, quiet way.

Maybe I think my husband should have an answer and solution for any issue within 10 seconds of my asking him. But maybe he needs more time to think, research, pray, and carefully consider things. That needs to be okay. I can adjust and let him lead in his way.

Embracing the Man He Is and Inviting God to Work

Sometimes we may actually have husbands who are good leaders, they just lead differently from what we expected. Or they may have some learning and growing to do as leaders. That’s got to be okay, too. We all have room to grow and mature.

I may need to lay down some of my expectations that will only lead me to resentment.

Then I can begin to explore the man my husband really is and the leadership style he does have. I can focus on and appreciate his strengths and the blessing that God made us different.

May God be greatly glorified in our marriages even in our differences!

Lord,

Help us to see any expectations that are not honoring to You or healthy for our marriages and lay them down at Your feet. Transform our thinking by the renewing of our minds through Your Word and Spirit.

Help us to become more and more the godly wives and women You call us to be for Your glory. Please bring healing to us and our husbands where there is pain. Help us to build our marriages on Your good design and wisdom alone.

Amen!

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Jer. 29:11

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Have you ever had expectations that led to resentment? What did God teach you about how to overcome them?

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