Are all expectations in marriage healthy?
A few weeks ago, I woke up with a brilliant idea.
The actual thought was “oh wouldn’t it be nice to eat out today”
I did not share my brilliant idea with Tommy (so, you know how this will end, eh?)
Anyway, by evening, my flighty thought had become full blown.
I had details of what I’d wear, where we’d go, what we’d eat..
Note – I wasn’t planning a surprise, this was going to be on him.
And happy hubs walks through the door, eases into his comfy house wear.
And my mind (and mood) head south.
I haven’t told him about my expectations, which the online dictionary defines as “an attitude of expectancy or hope; anticipation”.
But I am raving nutty.
“Wait a minute, why aren’t we going out today? Why hasn’t he figured out that we need to go out today?”
And the kicker (what is a fine grubby mood without the kicker)
“Am I the only one who cares about this relationship anyway?!”
Okay, by this time, you might be chuckling at my idealistic expectation.
But the truth is, we married folk do it all the time!
Expectations in marriage – why we all guilty
At any given time, we have different thoughts and ideas swirling through our mind and great hopes that our spouse would catch on without us having to say a word.
And we’ve gotten mad when they didn’t!
You are probably smarter than I am but perhaps at one time or another, you have had a ‘silent expectation’ churning in the background of your own relationship.
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In their book, As Long As We Both Shall Live Experiencing the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted, Dr Gary Smalley and Ted Cunningham say
Every couple has expectations with regard to themselves or the other person, planted in their minds and hearts from romantic films, song lyrics, TV programs, family histories or the lives of other couples.
Expectations can be healthy when mutual needs are met, but when they’re not met, it can be devastating on a marriage, leaving a couple questioning their compatibility and decision to marry.
So it’s not a matter of whether or not we have expectations. It’s a matter of how we deal with them.
How are 4 practical ways to navigate expectations in marriage
1. Communicate your Expectations in Marriage
Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But we tend to trip-up on the obvious.
Out of fear, ignorance or misinformation, we hold back information. But expect our spouses to know our hopes and thoughts.
I have discovered that shortest route to having an unfulfilled expectation is to hope that he will figure it out.
The better route is to share my expectation. With respect and and with as much clarity as I can muster.
John Maxwell says that the primary responsibility of leadership (in this case self-leadership) is to communicate expectations both with words and actions.
2. Don’t Share All Expectations in Marriage
Verizon (a communication company in the US) has a phone plan called “Share Everything”.
When it comes to some expectations, find a different plan!
We must sort through our hopes, thoughts and anticipations and find out what is realistic and what is not. Not every expectation is healthy. Not everything needs to be shared.
Learn what you need to let go. Lean into the pain of your brokenness and grow.
3. Change Yourself
You have the freedom and responsibility to change yourself, but not the other person – Gary Smalley says. (Click here to tweet!)
Once we communicate our expectations to our spouses, some of us appoint ourselves as ‘helpers’. But that is God’s work. He is the one who changes people.
Change is also a personal choice.
But here’s the good news – you may not be able to change your spouse but there’s one person you can change.
You can work on your attitude. You can ask God to help you change -to see things the way He sees them, to exercise agape love and to live a joy-filled life.
4. Understand Completeness Comes From God.
Wholeness comes from God. We never have guarantees that our expectations will be met. Even the most loving spouse will fail.
The bible says in Jeremiah 17:5 “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD”.
Frustration, pain, disappointment comes from having our faith in some other place other than God.
So allow God to be your only hope. Let Him be your source. Yes, speak with your spouse, filter and let go of wrong expectations, work on yourself. But invite God to work in you and in your spouse.
Delight yourself in the gifts that He gives you, including the gift of marriage. But let the gifts stay in their place. Let God be on the throne.
Your turn – How do you deal with your expectations in marriage? Please share in Comments.
Are you the imperfect girl married to an imperfect guy who is tired of fighting and fussing? Madly in love with your husband but suspect marriage can be better? Blues to Bliss: Creating Your Happily Ever After in the Early Years will walk you through the 8 common hot spots of new marriage and show you how to work out the kinks, find joy in imperfection, positively influence your marriage and create the marriage of your dreams. Buy it here Amazon I Barnes & Noble I PDF.