Expectations…the prison of marriage. Vol 84
I’m no marriage counselor…don’t want to be. But I have learned a thing or two in the last twenty plus years. Maybe it will help someone…or maybe you’ll want to punch me. I guess we’ll see…
When Lori and I first got married we did our counseling with the senior pastor of the church we were members of at the time. He was a unique dude, a bit of a character…larger than life. Most people either loved him or couldn’t stand him. I was in the former group. I had a unique friendship with the man and as a result, my love for Joe rubbed off on Lori. Lori and I had dated for over a year. We made the same mistakes that a lot of couples do…the biggest was thinking we knew each other. If I could go down a rabbit trail for just a minute here for the sake of other couples considering marriage. You only know what they want you to know. (this goes for both parties) . When you say “I do” and walk into life together…that is when you begin to understand that you don’t know what you think you know. Not meant to scare you young’uns… just to prepare you. Maybe you are different and much more “in touch” than we were…but I doubt it.
Anyway…in one premarital counseling session Joe gave us a VHS tape series to watch together on expectations. The jist of it was this. Leave your expectations with God. Lay them on him not on your spouse. He can handle them….neither of you can. At least not in the way you think right now. The beauty of that philosophy in practice is this. Often each of you will meet the unspoken expectation (that you’ve given to God) for each other and then..when it’s fulfilled… it’s pure gravy. It’s icing on the cake…drizzle on the strudel…I don’t know… pick your own desert analogy…but it’s wonderful stuff. It doesn’t feel coerced…it feels like the blessing it is.
It also feels unnatural to give our expectations to God when our partner is so close and often so clueless. He or she should “get it.” Expecting big or small things of our spouse feels so right except when our expectations go unmet. Then it starts adding to a list that can grow to a mountain neither of you can climb. Bad things can happen from there. Hopelessness, despondency, loneliness…divorce?
As husbands we already have a God-given responsibility to be the leader in our homes, the provider and protector of our wives and families. We are accountable to God for that. We are to in honor prefer one another. We are to lay our burdens, our expectations, at the foot of the cross because Jesus can and does handle them…if we leave them there. If you want to pick them up again…you can…but why would you except for pride. I hope you are hearing my heart here and not just my words. (which I feel totally inept writing…except for the fact that I lived in the prison of expectation for so many years.)
Instead…live with an attitude of gratitude. Does it sound trite… maybe. Cliche…definitely. Until you see what it does in your home. When you break the shackles of expectations you can live in the freedom of grace to love and respond unconditionally.
How far does this go? Does he still have to take out the garbage…of course. I’m not saying eliminate the chores…I’m talking about the bigger things and you know it.
Give yourselves permission to be released from the prison of expectations today. Life on the outside is quite nice!