The Sweet Christian Bride

Not-So-Great Expectations

by admin on April 26, 2012 in Faith, Relationship, Spouse, Vows with No Comments

Have you ever heard of loneliness in marriage?  Or disappointment in marriage?  You wouldn’t think that being in a covenant relationship with your best friend could possibly lead to such kinds of hurt.  Marriage is supposed to be blissful, not a war zone, right?

In many senses, you are correct.  God’s design for marriage before the fall was blissful because personal growth wasn’t entangled in a battle between righteousness and sin.  Husband and wife were partners that enriched the goodness of the other.  They were better as a team than they were apart.  Marriage was a reflection of the holiness and the loving nature of our relational God.

Post-fall, God’s design for marriage hasn’t changed, but the playing field has.  There are many adversaries that wage war against marriage.  One of the most seemingly benign but actually most deadly adversaries is our duplicitous friend, Expectation.

Expectations are pieces of shrapnel from our past waiting to be launched into our future. What is so artful about Expectation’s attack strategy is that he cozies up to each one of us, making us feel like we own him, like he is working in our best interest.  After all, we have to learn from our past in order to grow in our future, right?  What’s so wrong with having expectations?  How could we possibly not have expectations?

But our best interest changes when we get married.  It’s not about “me” anymore; it’s about “us.”  Expectation pits our desires against our reality, and when we come to the shock or the pain of this discrepancy, our natural inclination is to blame someone for it.  This is where Expectation becomes a double agent.

Although Expectation is causing the anger and entitlement to rage in us, he pretends he is on our team, convincing us that our spouse is the cause and that our anger is justified.  After all, we wouldn’t have expectations if they weren’t good standards to expect, right?

Wrong.  Well, sometimes expectations are good standards that to miss would be a deal breaker, but more often than not, expectations are a derivation of what brings us comfort, affirmation, or freedom.  They are rooted in our selfish version of what a selfless relationship (marriage) is supposed to be like.  These derivations are not bad in and of themselves, but they can turn our sight away from God and away from our marriage partnership and toward ourselves.

Some of the models from which we shape our expectations are healthy and others are toxic, but all of them pass a screening that we subconsciously implement: Is this good for me?

What if we could slightly alter our screening criteria?  What if our question was, Does this bring glory to God?  Inherently in that question also comes, Will this minimize me?  Can we handle that change in our screening method knowing that our own gain will become tertiary to God and to our marriages?  With the help of God, I think so.

That small (yet challenging) change in perspective will prevent expectations from waging war on our marriages.  In fact, the byproduct of that screen test is not an expectation at all but rather a hope.  We can hope for having healthy patterns in our marriages, and we can hope for avoiding toxic ones.

The difference being, hope is always rooted in Christ whereas expectation is rooted in our spouses.  Expectation sets our spouses up for failure every time.  Instead of blaming them when we grapple with how long goals are taking to be fulfilled or how different the fruit is from what we were wanting to bear, it is Christ with Whom we take this up.  Christ is the One with the power to change our marriages.  He is the One Who will let us see clearly and deeply into the disappointment or loneliness of our hearts.  He is the One Who will show us our own responsibility in the matter.

When we hope in Christ, we will never fail.

By Lindsay

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