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The Respect Dare, Day 1 – Expectations

 

Ladies,

I am THRILLED to be on this adventure with you as we begin a 40 day walk through The Respect Dare by Nina Roesner.!

If you don’t have a copy of the book yet, you can certainly get one – either version.  If you can’t get the book, that is ok – we will still be learning and growing spiritually together as godly wives.  I, for one, am very excited about all that God has done and is doing and all that He will do in my own life and marriage and in yours!

THE RULES:

  • I am not at liberty to quote The Respect Dare to repeat the exact dares.

What we will do is talk about our experience with the dares and I am going to be talking about general topics.

You are all very welcome and encouraged to share your struggles, what you are learning, what God is doing, any victories and prayer needs and we will walk through this together.

  • I would suggest NOT reading ahead, but just doing each day’s dare in the morning if possible.  That way you will have time to do whatever the dare is later in the day.  Sometimes there are assignments that you will need to know about before you interact with your husband.
  • I would definitely suggest praying each day and asking God to empower you to please Him , to teach you anything He wants to teach you and to make your heart receptive to His Words and His truth.

Expectations of my husband and marriage:

Well, we dive right in to the really thick stuff with this topic, don’t we??  I love it!

One of my readers shared a quote with me

“Expectations are premeditated resentment.”

Wow.

That really stood out to me. I wouldn’t say that ALL expectations are premeditated resentment – but unrealistic or unbiblical ones sure can be.

I don’t know if  you are like I was – but I had TONS of expectations of my husband and our marriage going into this thing 19 years ago.  I mean, it would have taken me pages to write it all down single-spaced.  And the thing that really made it awful was that I believed all of my expectations were totally justifiable and reasonable and that my husband would automatically have the exact same expectations I did.

If you have been reading this blog for very long, you may remember that I had a 4 part series on expectations this past winter.  There is practically no limit to how many expectations we can have of our husbands!

To love WITHOUT expectation is to love with “no strings attached.”

I think we have ALL been loved by someone WITH strings attached.  You know the ones, “After ALL I’ve done for you!”

  • If I love with strings attached – that means, “I love you if you do what I want.”

That is NOT the kind of love God desires us to have for others.

  • His kind of love is “I love you because I am love.”

1. I would like for you to spend some time writing down the expectations you have for your marriage or your husband.

Here are some that might help get you started.  (Some of these are expectations I had myself, some are not.)  I expected my husband to:

  • be home every night
  • spend 4-5 hours/day with me emotionally, spiritually and verbally connecting
  • want to go where I want to go on vacation
  • agree with me
  • be romantic by my definition every day
  • help with certain chores without being asked
  • do things on my timetable ( which usually means, right now)
  • make me feel loved
  • be responsible for my happiness.  If I am not happy, it is his duty to fix my unhappiness.
  • change for me and become who I want him to be
  • acknowledge that I am always right
  • initiate prayer with me and pray out loud with me daily
  • give up watching tv and spending time on the computer to just talk face to face with me
  • make me his first human priority after God
  • be responsible with money
  • always want sex when I want sex and never refuse me.
  • be affectionate many times per day
  • plan surprise trips for me multiple times per year
  • be totally transparent and accountable about what he is doing, who he talks to and his online activity
  • never sin against me
  • hardly ever have a bad day
  • not be depressed or upset
  • not disappoint me
  • not make mistakes
  • lead me spiritually in the ways I think he should
  • never sin even in his thoughts
  • never hurt my feelings
  • tell me he loves me every day
  • write me long, beautiful, sincere love letters a few times per week
  • give up his hobbies to be with me
  • give to the church and the poor what I want to give
  • accept that what I think is God’s will is clearly God’s will
  • think, feel, process emotions and make decisions just like I do (to be exactly like me emotionally, mentally and spiritually)
  • answer me within 30 seconds whenever I ask him a question or need him to make a decision
  • have the same priorities I do
  • need love just like I do – have the same needs I have
  • appreciate anything I do for him the way I would appreciate it
  • just know that he should take out the trash/do the dishes/help with the laundry and do it exactly the way I do it
  • want a baby when I want a baby
  • help with the baby and do exactly half of the “work”
  • split the chores down the middle according to my definition
  • be willing to listen to all my feelings, thoughts and emotions for hours
  • act the way my Daddy acts
  • go to the church I want to go to and go when I want to go
  • drive the way I drive
  • park the way I park
  • take care of the children exactly like I take care of the children
  • clean up after himself exactly like I do
  • discipline the children exactly like I do
  • be perfect – by my definition

I don’t know if you have realized this or not – but in my case – I really expected my husband to be… well… ME!  Or perfect. Or a fantasy. And truthfully, I don’t think that Jesus Himself would live up to a lot of my expectations here.

I was pretty shocked to find out he wasn’t me.  I thought that meant he had to be WRONG for many years in our marriage.   I was also very shocked to find out how NOT perfect I am!

Oh, for the chance to start our marriage over and understand that my husband is not only not me, he is a man, he is not a woman.  Men are VERY different from women!!!!  They do NOT think, feel, process and make decisions just like we do.  That was a really important piece of information that I sure wish I had understood on May 28, 1994.

Note – There are some expectations we will need to keep. Things like:

  • I should be safe with my husband. I should not have to be afraid for my safety or my children’s safety.
  • He should not cheat on me or break our marriage covenant. If he does, that is not okay. I don’t have permission to respond in sinful ways to him, but I may need to prayerfully consider separation until he is willing to repent and rebuild trust.
  • If he has a really serious problem (major unrepentant sin, significant addiction, demon possession, or serious uncontrolled mental health issue) – I may need to reach out for appropriate help outside of the marriage.
  • I can respect myself, the Lord, and my husband at the same time.
  • I can’t cooperate with him in sin or condone sin.

2. Now, we are going to lay these expectations of our husbands down at the feet of Jesus.  We are going to let go of them.  Please do NOT share your expectation list with your husband. 

Another way of saying that we aren’t going to hold our expectations over our husbands anymore is this:

I accept my husband as he is right now.  I am not going to try to change him.  I am not God.  Only God can change people.  From this moment on, I will accept my husband for the man that he is.

3. I would like you to write down some expectations you have for yourself to grow spiritually in the next few months.

Here are some examples of ways you might hope to grow in your walk with Christ:

I want to learn to

4.  Ask God to change YOU! 🙂

You are responsible for you.  You are not responsible for your husband.  Allow God full and total access to the darkest corners of your soul and allow Him to change anything in you that He desires to.

Humble yourself before God – seeking His wisdom, His will and His glory!

My power is not in focusing on what my husband should do or could do to be a better husband.

My power is in focusing on what God wants to do in MY heart!

DISCUSSION:

What are some expectations you have had of your husband?

What would you like to see God do in your heart?

 

PS  – A CAUTION ABOUT ROMANTIC MOVIES/BOOKS/MUSIC:

I personally had to stop watching romantic movies/tv shows, stop reading romantic novels (even the Christian ones – because I would start to feel resentful that my marriage wasn’t like the one in the book, and I try not to listen to love songs.

Those romantic things set up HUGE expectations in our hearts that are not healthy for our marriages in my view. They are not realistic. And if something triggers discontent in me – I want to look to the root cause of the discontentment and tear it out of my life if at all possible.

It is much easier to be content with what we have when we are not filling our hearts with fantasy about what “should be.”

 

Expectations – Part 3

bridegroom aisle

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!

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