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Expectations – Part 3

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This is part 3 of a series on expectations we have about marriage vs. reality.  Click to read Part 1 and Part 2 if you missed them.

One time in 7th grade, I was at a party.  I didn’t know that Cherry Coke had just come out.  And I took a sip of a soft drink, expecting Coke.  When I expected Coke, but it was Cherry Coke, and I had never tasted that before – it was a VERY UNPLEASANT SURPRISE!  I actually like Cherry Coke now.  But I enjoy it a lot more when I know what to expect and am not taken by surprise – expecting one thing, and experiencing another.  My expectations made my first Cherry Coke experience unpleasant.  But if I had the proper expectations, I could probably have enjoyed the experience.

Laying down unreasonable and unrealistic expectations is part of the path to peace and joy!

EXPECTATIONS WE SOMETIMES TAKE INTO MARRIAGE THAT CAUSE US TROUBLE

  • I can and should change my husband with my love
  • my husband will NEVER notice another woman exists on the planet
  • my husband will never be tempted to lust after another woman
  • my husband will never be tempted to flirt with another woman
  • my husband will always agree with me
  • if I explain myself enough, my husband will see that I am clearly right – about everything
  • my husband will always clean up after himself

REALITY VS. THESE EXPECTATIONS

  • I cannot change people!  Only God can change people.  I can influence my husband.  But I am not responsible for him and I cannot  MAKE him do anything.  I am only responsible for my own sin, my own emotions, my own behavior, my own obedience to God, my own attitudes and my own walk with Christ.
  • All people can be tempted to flirt or lust.  Men and women.  The vast majority of husbands will commit lust in their hearts at some point or many points.  So will most wives.  Now, just noticing that there are other women on the planet is not sin.  Noticing a beautiful woman is not sin.  It is only when he undresses her with his eyes or uses his imagination to picture having sex with her that he sins.  But you can’t control his thoughts or keep him from sinning. And you don’t actually know what is happening in his thoughts.  It is easy to judge and condemn him, but only God knows his heart.  Many women have their husbands’ visual purity as an idol.   Meaning, “I won’t be happy unless my husband never sins in his thought life.”  But we women can’t keep ourselves from sinful thoughts many times – we hold on onto anger and unforgiveness and bitterness and resentment, and we gossip, and we judge others as being “less than” us, and we pridefully think we are always right… we can’t keep our own thoughts sin-free.  We do well when we allow God to deal with our husbands’ sin and we allow God to work in our lives about our own sin. There are times we may need to confront our husbands’ sin gently, respectfully, humbly, after first dealing with our own sin… but then there are also times to give grace.  I pray we will be sensitive to God’s Spirit and His Word and wisdom and honor Him in these matters!
  • My husband will NOT always agree with me.  No two people will always agree.  I don’t have to agree with him.  He doesn’t have to agree with me.  And we don’t have to fight when we don’t agree.  He is allowed to be his own person with his own thoughts, just like I am.  Just because he thinks differently, does not mean he is wrong.  And just because I think differently from him does not mean I am wrong.  We have different perspectives on life.  That makes us stronger as a couple!
  • More words can fix almost anything in a woman’s world – not so in a man’s world.  Many times more words make things worse with men.  Brief explanations are usually best.  When we get too carried away with explaining ourselves, it can look like we are trying to control our men or justify our own sin sometimes.  Sometimes our men see that we are wrong.  And more words won’t help.  If your husband is getting increasingly agitated as you explain and explain – just stop.  Be quiet.  And wait for awhile.  When we don’t drop something and don’t listen – it can be very frustrating for our men sometimes.
  • Nope.  And if that is a big problem for you  – probably best not to get married!  Being married means cleaning up after other people sometimes.  Being a mom is going to be even more of the  being-someone’s-servant thing.  Jesus says that anyone who wants to be the greatest in His kingdom, must become the servant of all.  Embrace having a servant’s heart if you want a husband and family!

The closer reality is to my expectations, the happier I will be.

And, conversely, if my expectations are FAR away from reality – the more miserable I will be.

Lord,

Please open our eyes to faulty expectations and unrealistic expectations we might have of our husbands and of marriage.  Help us to get rid of any expectations that dishonor You and our marriages.  Help us to set our hearts firmly on You alone.  Help us to lay down our will, our rights, our plans, our dreams, our hopes, our desires, our wisdom and ourselves  before You – and let us pick up Your wisdom, Your will, Your desires, Your plans, Your dreams, Your glory and all the riches of heaven.  Let us seek Your will far above our own now.  Be greatly glorified in our marriages!

In the Name and power of Christ,

Amen!

Expectations – Part 2

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Yesterday, we looked at some common expectations that wives often carry into marriage and how they can create resentment in us (For Part 1 of Expectations, please click here).  We also looked at reality vs. these expectations.

Here are some more expectations that we often bring into marriage that sometimes create resentment

  • that if I am married, my husband will spend all his free time after work doting on me
  • my husband MUST initiate prayer with me every night and initiate devotions/Bible reading with me or he is not a good spiritual leader
  • that I am always right and leave no room for my husband’s perspective at all
  • I should always get MY way
  • if I am married, I will always feel loved by my husband
  • if I am unhappy, my husband is to blame and he must change
  • I am not a big time sinner – I won’t cause my husband any pain/wounds/grief/distress
  • I am better than my husband (spiritually/mentally/morally/emotionally)

This is not remotely an exhaustive list!

REALITY VS. THE ABOVE EXPECTATIONS

  • Husbands have a lot of things they want and need to do.  Not all of it will always involve us.  That does not mean they don’t love us!  It just means sometimes they need time with their guy friends.  Sometimes they need time to chill out.  Sometimes they need time to cut the grass.  Sometimes they need time to work on their hobbies and passions.  Sometimes they need time with just the children without us.  It is easy for wives to interpret, “If my husband doesn’t do things with me every possible minute that he is home from work, he doesn’t love me or want me.”  This is usually NOT at all true!  Allow your man the time he needs to recharge and do things he enjoys – even without you sometimes.  That will give him a much greater appreciation for you and he will enjoy the time he spends with you infinitely more than if you are clinging to him and resentful of him spending any time away.  A wife who is a bottomless pit of need REPELS her husband far, far away.  A wife who is understanding and supportive of her husband’s hobbies and recreation will tend to have a much more loving husband.
  • The Bible does say Christians should pray continuously, without ceasing, for our leaders, with thanksgiving, with faith, in a closet so that the God who sees what is done in secret will reward us, in groups of 2-3, corporately as a church…  There are many instructions about prayer.  But I can’t find a verse that says, “Husbands must initiate prayer with their wives.”  I believe couples SHOULD pray together.  But if  your husband is nervous about praying out loud – please don’t shame him!  He may feel intimidated or too vulnerable.  Please do not try to force him into praying with you, and don’t judge him as being less spiritual if he hesitates about praying out loud together.  Pray on your own and/or with a godly female prayer partner.  Pray for your husband, thanking God for him.  If there is NOT a lot of tension, you could try, politely, respectfully, pleasantly asking your husband sometimes if he might pray with you/for you.  If he doesn’t answer or gets upset – then leave that topic alone and let God work on him.  You focus on praying yourself and on your own sin and your own intimacy with Christ.  If your husband is far from God, I Peter 3:1-6 is your prescription from God.  If he is far from God, words from you about spiritual things will only repel him farther from God and from you.  If he is far from God, make sure you are obeying God and honoring your husband’s leadership and showing respect for your husband – that is how God can use you to influence your husband.  But ultimately only God can open his eyes.  You can get out of God’s way in your husband’s life by obeying God yourself.
  • Be open to your husband’s ideas.  They will be different from your own.  That does not mean he is wrong.  God may well be speaking to you through your husband at times (if he is not asking you to sin or condone sin).  Be willing to hear your husband and accept that your husband has a masculine brand of wisdom and a masculine perspective that is very different from yours, but that he has a lot to offer.
  • Expecting to always get your way is one of the fastest ways to misery I know.  And trust me – I have been down that road MANY MILES.  It does not go anywhere good!  Be gracious and selfless and allow your husband to do things the way he likes to as a gift to him.  Lay down your own desires at the feet of Jesus and seek His will, His glory and His way, not your own!
  • You will ABSOLUTELY NOT always feel loved by your husband.  That doesn’t mean he won’t love you, necessarily.  But you will not always be able to FEEL/hear/see his love.  When your heart is set fully on Jesus, you can ride out those times because you have your identity completely in Christ, and you have your security in Jesus, not a man.  You keep obeying God for your part, don’t react in sin, stay close to Jesus.  And see what God will do.
  • I am responsible for my own happiness.  My husband is not responsible for my emotional and spiritual well-being.  He wants to see me happy.  He will probably try to do things that make me feel happy.  But every time I am unhappy it is not his job to make me be happy.  I am an adult.  I am responsible for my emotions and my spiritual condition.   I look to Christ to find my fulfillment and joy and strength.  My husband will add extra things to my life that do make me happy – but my primary source for my wellbeing is Jesus.
  • We are all big time sinners.  All of us tend to commit idolatry, be prideful, selfish… the list goes on and on.  I WILL sin against my husband.  I will hurt him.  Probably many times.  I have to be able to accept that I am human and understand that I need the blood of Jesus to cover my sin.  I need grace to give to myself.  And I will need grace from my husband.
  • We are all on level ground at the foot of the cross.  We are all equally wretched sinners.  None of us are good.  Only God is good.  My husband may fall for temptations that don’t tempt me.  But I have other sin-tendencies that are just as heinous to God’s holiness.  My husband is my fellow-traveler on this road of faith in Christ.  We are equal in sinfulness and equal in the amount of the grace of Jesus that we desperately need.

We’ll look at some additional expectations vs. reality tomorrow!

Expectations – Part 1

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We all go into marriage with a lot of expectations.  (Click here for Part 2, Part 3, Part 4)

And, as a reader of mine quoted last week,

“Expectations are premeditated resentment.”

Ladies, what are some expectations you have of your husband and marriage?

Some expectations – I believe are valid.  I believe we should be able to expect our wedding vows to be honored.  But sometimes even that doesn’t happen, sadly.

WHAT ARE SOME EXPECTATIONS THAT GET US INTO TROUBLE?  WHEN I THINK:

  • if I love my husband well (or submit to him biblically and respect him), that my husband will always love and cherish me the way I want him to – that he will “owe me” and must please me or must be the man I want him to be or act in certain ways
  • if I do things right – God will also “owe me” and I will never have to suffer
  • my husband will never turn me down for sex
  • my husband must be perfect and must never sin against me
  • that marriage will be like a romantic movie, I will constantly feel “in love” and “loved”
  • that marriage will solve all my problems
  • that if I am married, I will never be lonely

There are many more possibilities, but this is a good place to start.   Keep in mind that these expectations can easily become idols for us – and we can easily set our hearts on these things instead of on Jesus alone.

We will look at some additional expectations tomorrow.

LET’S TALK ABOUT REALITY VS. EACH OF THE ABOVE EXPECTATIONS

  •  I have an obligation to my Lord, Jesus Christ, to obey His Word and to love my husband, respect him and honor his God-given leadership (Ephesians 5:22-33, Titus 2:2-5, I Corinthians 11:3, I Peter 3:1-6).  But my accountability to God is for my own sin and my own obedience and God requires my obedience to His Word regardless of my husband’s corresponding obedience to God’s Word to love me as Christ loves the church.  Husbands are people.  They have free will.  Just like my husband cannot force me to obey God and love Him, I cannot force my husband to love God and obey Him.  And I cannot force him to love me either.
  • God values suffering when it is for His glory. God promises that we will suffer in this life.  Jesus suffered as an example for us.  And God wants to use suffering to make us more like Jesus.  My life will have suffering.  But God’s promise is that He will be there to empower me to endure and that He will teach me and make me more like Jesus.  I will learn the most during my times of suffering if I will listen for God’s voice.
  • Reality is that husbands do reject their wives sexually, sometimes.  Some husbands do this more than others.  But the way I respond when I am rejected is a big indicator of how close I am to God.  Can I take my hurt and pain to Jesus and find my fulfillment, joy, strength and purpose in Him alone?  Or do I begin to cherish a grudge and bitterness and hatred?  God can and will use these situations to help make me more holy if I am willing to do things His way and let go of my own wisdom.
  • Husbands are human.  They are all wretched sinners in desperate need of Christ!  So are wives! He WILL sin against you – the question is only when and how much.  God can and will use these opportunities to reveal the sin in your own heart because we are most tempted to sin when we have been sinned against (Gary Thomas Sacred Marriage).  If I cannot respond to my husband’s sin with mercy, forgiveness, grace, respect, gentleness and speaking the truth in love (after removing the sin from my own life first) – then I have a lot of sin to confess and repent of before my Holy God.
  • Marriage CAN be very romantic sometimes.  But it is not Hollywood.   And it can be and will be excruciatingly painful other times.  It will not follow a carefully scripted movie plot line.  When we expect men to act the way they do in romantic chick-flicks (which are often written by women) – we are buying into a fantasy that completely warps real masculinity.  We set up false expectations for our men when we consume these things. If watching romantic movies, reading romantic books and listening to love songs creates discontentment in you – romance may be an idol and it is time to stop watching and listening to these things and time to focus on Jesus and His love.
  •  Paul says that those who have married will have much trouble in this life.  Marriage does not solve nearly as many problems as it creates!  Marriage is a gift and a blessing.  God designed it to demonstrate His love and relationship with His people.  But in a marriage between two sinners – there is MUCH TROUBLE.  Expect that.  Be prepared for it.  Don’t complain and argue.  Be ready to give grace and to roll with reality and be flexible.  Your way is not the most important thing.  God’s will is the most important thing!
  • The loneliness that happens sometimes in marriage is a loneliness that far exceeds (in my view) the loneliness of being single.  There are times that we will be lonely, VERY lonely in our marriages.  I believe that is our cue to look to Jesus.  Our husbands will fail us.  But Jesus never will.  When I keep my heart set completely on Jesus alone – I will find the belonging, the security, the peace, the love, the acceptance and companionship I so desperately long for.

WHAT DO I DO WHEN MY HUSBAND DOES NOT MEET  MY EXPECTATIONS?

Do I believe I am justified to sin against him by cussing, screaming, yelling, throwing things, hating him, resenting him, gossiping against him, undermining him to our children, withholding sex from him, not forgiving him, thinking I am so much better than he is, belittling him, disrespecting him, taking over and trying to control him and the family?  If I respond in even one of these ways – I am in sin before God.

The way I respond when my husband doesn’t meet my expectations reveals the level of sin in my heart.  It shows whether the sinful nature is in control or God’s Spirit is in control.  When God’s Spirit is in control, He empowers me to respond to my husband, even if he sins against me with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control.

Take a minute and think about

1. What are your expectations of your husband and marriage?  Are any of them toxic?

2. How do you respond when your expectations are not met?

3. What idols and sin is God revealing here that He wants to deal with and remove from your heart?

Valentine’s Day Expectations

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Ladies,

AHHH – VALENTINE’S DAY!

That magical day when romance is in the air and many women have higher expectations than EVER for their men.

For men – it can be a day filled with consternation, apprehension, anxiety and fear – that what they plan or do will not meet their wives’ standard.  This is especially true if things did not go well in the past.

WE HAVE FREEDOM

As believers in Christ – we are free from the carnal expectations and demands of the world.  We don’t have to buy into the world’s ways and the world’s system and what the world says we must do or should do.

There is freedom in Christ – even on Valentine’s Day in our marriages!

We are free to appreciate our husbands, enjoy them, respect them, and release them from cultural expectations and our own expectations.  We set our hearts on Christ alone.  We are content in Him.  Anything else we get is icing on the cake. We can ask for what we would like. We can ask our husbands what they would like. We can appreciate all that our men do if they do something for us.  But we are not slaves to expectations any more.  We don’t have to react sinfully if we don’t get what we want.

Really – praise God for this – I don’t even have to be a slave to what I want anymore!  I have died to self and to this world (Romans 5-8, Galatians 5).  I live by the power of God’s Spirit for Christ.  I seek His will and His glory, not my desires any more!

Expectations

Let’s talk about our expectations for Valentine’s Day.  There is nothing wrong with liking to feel loved, pampered, adored, and treasured.  We LOVE romance as women, don’t we!?!?  But where is it that we go wrong sometimes?  And why is it that Valentine’s Day can sometimes be the most miserable day of the year for some couples?

Sometimes our expectations are HUGE:

  • he should “just know” what I want without me telling him
  • it’s “not romantic” if I tell him what I want for Valentine’s Day
  • he should plan the whole thing all by himself and surprise me
  • he should take me to MY favorite restaurant and get me a spa package and get me my favorite flowers
  • if he really loved me, he would do X
  • he should know what kind of jewelry I like and it needs to cost at least $XXX – or he obviously doesn’t love me
  • if my husband doesn’t get me X – he doesn’t care about me at all
  • he should take me away for the weekend to a hotel – as a surprise – without me having to mention it
  • he should send me a 2000 word love letter/email gushing with all the romantic reasons he loves to be with me

Let’s notice something here…

Those expectations I just listed – do you see where my emphasis is?  “HE SHOULD”  

This is where I get into trouble.  I am in charge of me.  I can control me.  I don’t control him.

The other dangerous thing in some of those statements is how I am assigning evil motives to my husband if he doesn’t do what I want. I can’t accurately make assumptions like that. Most husbands truly do love their wives and don’t want to hurt or upset them. Most husbands love to make their wives happy – if they think it is actually possible (check out Shaunti Feldhahn’s book, “For Women Only.”)

I will push him away and make us both miserable if I assume he hates me and constantly demand reassurance of his love.  I need to find my primary reassurance that I am loved, accepted, cherished and valued in CHRIST.

  • I can ASK my husband for things or tell him what I want with a smile, a pleasant voice, and respect in my heart.  But I don’t want to demand.  That is rude!  It is unbecoming.  It is disrespectful.  No one responds to demands very well.

Sometimes our reactions are AWFUL

How do we respond to our husbands if we are disappointed with what the did/did not do for us for Valentine’s Day (or other days)?

Do we:

  • yell and scream?
  • call him names?
  • become hateful and full of contempt?
  • withhold sex?
  • ruin the entire day, or maybe a week, with our wrath?
  • pitch a fit?
  • give him the silent treatment for the rest of the day, or week, or month?
  • criticize and condemn our men?
  • bash our husband to other women and tell everyone else what an unthoughtful jerk he is?
  • act like we are “entitled” to have him do magnificent things for us – but care very little about his feelings?

These responses are from the flesh not from God. They have to go!

What kind of behavior does Jesus expect from us towards our husbands?

Whether it is on Valentine’s Day – or any other day of the year, Jesus expects us to:

  • respect and honor our husbands out of reverence for Him (Ephesians 5:22-33)
  • cooperate with our husbands’ leadership out of reverence for Him (Ephesians 5:22-33, I Corinthians 11:3, I Peter 3:1-2, Colossians 3:18, Titus 2:3-5)
  • be kind to our husbands (I Corinthians 13:4-7)
  • be patient with our husbands (I Corinthians 13:4-7)
  • not be jealous (of how they spend their time, of them giving attention to our children, etc)
  • not be arrogant/prideful and think we are better than and more spiritual than our husbands (I Cor. 13:4-7)
  • not be rude to our husbands – EVEN if they sin against us! (1 Cor. 13:4-7)
  • not be selfish/self-seeking (I Cor. 13:4-7)
  • not be easily angered against our husbands (1 Cor. 13:4-7)
  • keep no record of wrongs our husbands have committed against us (I Cor. 13:4-7)
  • not delight when things go wrong for our husbands (I Cor. 13:4-7)
  • always protect our husband spiritually, emotionally, financially, physically, seeking to do him good, not to harm him (I Cor. 13:4-7, Prov. 31) – if a husband is truly abusive or acting in criminal ways and a wife is not safe, please get appropriate help ASAP!
  • always trust our husbands whenever possible (and if it is not possible, we will trust God to work in our husbands for their good)
  • always hope in God (I Cor. 13:4-7)
  • always persevere in the marriage (I Cor. 13:4-8a)
  • not quarrel (I Corinthians 3:3 – quarreling means we are worldly, and not spiritually mature)
  • not argue
  • not complain (that Jesus might shine brightly in us as we hold out the Word of life!  Phil 2:14-16)
  • have a servant’s heart and pray for God to show me how I can bless and serve my husband and make the day special for him – and not make it be all about me (Luke 22:26)
  • joyfully, willingly participate in sexual intimacy with our husbands (1 Cor. 7:1-5) unless there is infidelity, true abuse, major illness, etc…. (For more in this important topic, please search my home page for sex, sexual rejection, initiating, feel like a piece of meat, do I condone abuse or marital rape.)

There are many more things Jesus desires us to do.  But I think this list gives us a great place to start.

Keep in mind that to Jesus – the way I treat my husband –  is the way I treat Him.

FOR WIVES WHO ARE HIGHER DRIVE:

Ladies, let’s respond with grace. We can ask for what we want respectfully and kindly, without a lot of pressure and definitely without resentment or anger. If your husband cannot or will not have sex with you, making a huge deal out of it and getting extremely upset and in his face about it will only repel him even more.

Praying for wisdom for those of you who are facing these painful and difficult situations – that you might treat your husband with respect, even if he is not giving you sexual intimacy as he should. We cannot force or coerce our husbands into sex anymore than we would want them to force or coerce us. I pray God might empower us to respond with grace and His wisdom.

My heart goes out to those of you who are suffering in this way. You are not alone. This is a pretty common situation. Here are some posts:

FOR WIVES WHO ARE LOWER DRIVE:

 

WE HAVE THE POWER TO MAKE OR BREAK VALENTINE’S DAY, LADIES!!!!!

How?

By our reaction, our gratitude, our response, our patience, our grace, our forgiveness, our mercy… our being full of God’s Spirit and reacting in the power of Christ instead of our sinful nature.

I get to decide if we have a wonderful day together or if it will be miserable torture.   It is ALL in my attitude and my response to my husband.

Let’s choose to be thankful, pleasant, grateful, calm, gracious, accepting, respectful, admiring and let’s choose to be flexible and roll with whatever happens with a cheerful attitude.  Let’s NOT argue or complain, but be a godly example to those around us.

IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT ME

One of the best gifts we can give our husbands is to lay all our expectations and all the pressure aside and just accept, love, respect, and treasure our men exactly as they are.

Let’s focus on what our men would enjoy and be thankful every day for our husbands being in our lives.

Lord,

I pray You might help us to keep our eyes on You.  Help us to honor and love You and to obey Your Word.  Help us to keep our hearts set squarely on Christ, on desiring Your presence, on loving Your Word, on wanting to be more like You and seeking Your will and Your glory.

Help us to stop looking at ourselves and what we will get and help us to have servants’ hearts and focus on serving You primarily and then our husbands.  Make our marriages strong, vibrant, healthy and godly and let Your Name be greatly glorified in our homes!

In the Name and power of Christ,

Amen!

RELATED:

The Answer to All of Your Marriage Problems

The Fantasy of Romance

Breaking the Romance Addiction

What Does It Mean to Be an Ungodly Woman?

Godly Femininity – Part 1

Godly Femininity – Part 2

How Do You Stay Filled with the Holy Spirit?

I Am Responsible for My Own Emotions

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