One of my readers shared a quote with me
“Expectations are premeditated resentment.”
That really stood out to me.
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 5 part series on expectations this past winter. There is practically no limit to how many expectations we can have of our men and of God!
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, how could you do X!?!!”
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.
That is control.
God’s kind of love is “I love you because I am love.”
1. A. I would like for you to spend some time writing down the expectations you have for dating, marriage, your boyfriend, your future husband.
Here are some that might help get you started. (Some of these are expectations I had myself, some are not.)
When we got married, 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 able to read my mind and just know what I want and need and meet all my needs
- be responsible for my happiness.
- be who I want him to be
- 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
- 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
- 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 when I want help
- be willing to listen to all my feelings, thoughts and emotions for hours
- go to the church I want to go to and go when I want to go
- drive the way I drive
- 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
Turns out – a lot of these expectations were VERY UNREASONABLE and unrealistic! I KNOW – how shocking is that!!!!!
The sharp departure of reality and all of my expectations landed me in a very miserable place for a long time.
I don’t know if you have realized this or not – but in my case – I really expected my husband to be… well… ME! But also perfect. I expected him to think like a woman. Who knew that men don’t think like women!?!?
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 really shocked to discover exactly how NOT perfect I really am. And many of my expectations were things that even Jesus wouldn’t have done!
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.
SOME EXPECTATIONS I BELIEVE YOU SHOULD HAVE GOING IN TO DATING/ENGAGEMENT/MARRIAGE:
- that your man is a strong disciple of Christ
- that he puts Jesus WAY before everything and everyone else
- that he be faithful to you – although, God can heal when adultery happens. But if he is unfaithful before marriage – please get careful counseling before agreeing to marry him!
- your man will hurt you and sin against you
- if you expect your husband to be responsible for your happiness or your spiritual growth – you will be very unhappy
- take care of your own sin and your relationship with Jesus, take care of your own spiritual growth. Trust God to handle your husband’s growth.
- you will need to be prepared to be humble, you are not always right.
- your man has a lot of wisdom to share, even if you do not agree at the moment
- be prepared to extend much grace, mercy and forgiveness
- see conflict as an opportunity to shine for Christ by seeking His will and His glory not your own will
But once you are married, it is wise to drop as many expectations as possible (particularly the impossible, unreasonable and unrealistic ones) and focus on Christ and being the godly woman and wife He wants you to be as you roll with whatever comes.
1.B. Now, we are going to lay our unrealistic expectations of our future husbands down at the feet of Jesus. We are going to let go of them. Please do NOT share your expectation list with your man. In fact, you may want to shred it, burn it (safely), bury it or destroy it in some way.
Another way of saying that we aren’t going to hold our expectations over our men anymore is this:
I accept my man 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 this man for the man that he is.
I accept my life as it is right now. I am not going to try to force dating or marriage apart from God’s will. I will seek God first and desire Him more than a boyfriend, more than an engagement ring, more than a wedding, more than a husband. I want Jesus. He is my life! I want to be completely content in Him alone.
2. 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
- stop arguing and complaining
- have a thankful heart
- stop criticizing others and being negative
- use my words to build others up, encourage and affirm them
- do good to other people, not evil, all the days of my life
- see my sin the way God and deeply mourn over it with godly sorrow that leads to true repentance
- be full of God’s joy
- forgive others – especially those who are closest to me
- tear down any idols in my heart and soul
- repent of all the bitterness and resentment that is poisoning me
- let go of trying to control others
- trust God
- understand more about God’s sovereignty
- live by faith
- have a gentle and peaceful spirit
- not worry or be afraid anymore
- surrender completely to Jesus as Lord
- die to self
- embrace godly femininity – God’s definition of femininity and what is beautiful
- experience God’s supernatural peace
- bless my husband
- understand what is disrespectful to men so I can stop those things
- learn what speaks respect to men
- apologize to others – especially those in some type of authority over me – for my disrespect
- forgive myself
- experience God’s grace and mercy
- be willing to give up everything to follow Jesus (contentment in Christ alone)
- live for His will and His glory alone – as a living sacrifice
- see with God’s eyes
2. B. Ask God to change YOU!
You are responsible for you. You are not responsible for anyone else. 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 man should do or could do to be a better Christian.
My power is in focusing on what God wants to do in MY heart!
What are some expectations you have had of your man or a past boyfriend/fiance/husband?
What would you like to see God do in your heart?