God, we’ve been married for a whole month already. He should know how I feel!
God, we don’t seem to have much closeness in our marriage. What are we doing wrong?
Marriage can be joyful, rewarding, and extremely fulfilling. Marriage can also be painful, boring, and extremely hard work. Yes, marriage is just like life: what you expect from marriage is directly related to how much you enjoy it.
This is the final part of a six-part series about the “worse” times Don and I have experienced and how God led us through. Click here for series introduction.
This week’s topic: Expectations
As I mentioned in a previous post, I observed many married couples when I was single. I watched how they treated each other, how they disciplined their children, and how they interacted with others. I also read many books on marriage. I admired those who could finish each other’s sentences, or anticipate each other’s needs. I eagerly anticipated loving looks, gentle touches, and kind words between me and my husband.
That’s how I thought my marriage would be…on day one. (Yes, I laugh about that now, too.) After all, since God brought Don and I together, I was certain He’d work out all the rough spots and give us a marriage made in heaven.
I was partially right – He did give us a marriage made in heaven.
- I expected us to live happily ever after as soon as we said, “I do.” Happiness is subjective, and does not mean we’ll always feel good and “in love.”
- I expected Don to be a take-charge leader and boldly guide our marriage. God brought me a gentle man; wise, loving, and big-hearted who led by example.
- I expected lots of gushy romance. God brought me a faithful man who loved me deeply and would never leave me, and expressed love in his own unique way.
- I expected marriage to fill my love tank to overflowing. Marriage emptied my love tank, only God could refill it.
- I expected Don to become the man of God I knew he could be. Don was already the man of God he was created to be.
I also believed the goal of marriage was two people, madly in love and desperate to be together, growing together as one and serving the Lord.
Again, I was partially right. Don and I were brought together to become one, and to serve the Lord better than either of us can do on our own. But the goal is not about either person in the marriage, or about the marriage itself.
The goal of marriage is to advance the Kingdom of God by modeling true love in the deepest way: laying down one’s life for the other every single day.
The greatest marriage blessings come when we die to ourselves and our own desires for the sake of our spouse, modelling Christ's sacrificial love. Then we can fulfill God's expectation of marriage: to glorify Him and make Him known.
1. Romance grows from a solid foundation of God’s love. Romance is not the foundation of marriage.
2. If you are in the middle of a rough time, you will get through it. It’s hardly ever as bad as it seems.
3. Expect God to do what you cannot: change you and your spouse, in His time, in His way. In the meantime, accept him/her, and yourself, as-is.
4. Learn from other couples, but don’t expect to look like them or be like them. Each marriage is as unique as the two people in it.
5. Let go of expectations that your marriage will always feel good, or ever be perfect. It won't.
6. When your expectations are not met, take your feelings to God instead of acting them out on your spouse (or others).
7. Ask God to show you where your expectations are wrong. Replace those expectations with thanksgiving and acceptance for how things are today.
8. Keep perspective on God’s goal for your marriage: to glorify Him.
Our marriage has been an amazing testimony of the power and grace of God. But it's not perfect, and never will be.
All marriages have hard times and unfulfilled dreams. To expect anything else is a setup for failure.
Overall, my marriage thrives when I let go of my expectations and choose to focus on what's really important. When I focus on the true goal of marriage, to glorify God, all the little things I fret over become unimportant. When I focus on how much we love each other instead of what we may or may not have or do, I realize God did, indeed, give me a marriage made in heaven.
Thank you for blessing me with the greatest husband on the planet. No kidding!
TODAY’S CHALLENGE: Where do you have wrong expectations for your marriage? Ask God for grace to let them go, and ask Him to fill your heart with love for your spouse, right where they are.
Also, if you know someone who may be blessed by this series, please share the link with them.