This is a continuation of a series about expectations we can take into romantic relationships, and especially into marriage – that can cause major damage. Many times our expectations don’t match up with reality and then we become extremely unhappy and we demand that our husbands change. Having a lot of specific, unspoken expectations is a recipe for resentment, disunity and disaster in marriage.
MORE EXPECTATIONS MANY WOMEN HAVE FOR THEIR FUTURE HUSBANDS/HUSBANDS IN MARRIAGE
- He will take care of me in a specific way when I am sick
- He will take me on lots of trips
- He will buy me a big, fancy, luxurious house
- He will always have a job
- He will never cause us to lose money
- He will let me quit working or go part time when we have children even if I never mentioned that before we got married
- He will take care of the yard work and cars and “honey do” list
- Men are horrible mind readers (so are women!). Some of them are not extremely nurturing. That doesn’t mean they don’t love us. But some are not great caretakers when we are sick. If you want him to do something, ask as pleasantly as possible, and as specifically as possible. But then don’t demand that he do it. Example: “Honey, would you please buy me some Puffs tissue with lotion, some Campbell’s chicken noodle soup and some orange Delsym on your way home tonight? I would appreciate it so much!” (This kind of request, with multiple components, might be best in a text if the specifics are really important to you). Some people want to be left alone when they are sick. They don’t want people to see them vomiting and having diarrhea or hacking their lungs up. Some people feel abandoned and unloved if their spouse leaves them alone when they are sick and want to cuddle and be extra pampered. Each family has its own culture about caring for people when they are sick. And each individual has his/her own ideas and expectations about these things. Don’t assume that your spouse knows what you want/need or like. And don’t assume that you know what your spouse wants/needs or likes. Talk with each other kindly and calmly when you are not sick ahead of time – and see what speaks love most to each of you during sickness. Then you will be better prepared when one is sick to show love in a meaningful way.
- Before we got married, I imagined that once we were married we’d be able to go on trips every other month or something. I LOVE traveling. My husband likes to travel, but it is not nearly as big of a priority for him as it was for me. And our work schedules and budget didn’t always lend themselves well to doing much traveling. Sometimes reality prevents us from being able to do what we had hoped to do. It’s best to accept that and appreciate what we have.
- Some women want the nicest, biggest, most expensive everything. Reality is that the economy is not doing great right now. Jobs aren’t super stable. Husbands may not be able to provide the lifestyle that wives want. Sometimes we push our husbands because of our own materialism and greed (which are idols). Things don’t always work out the way we plan. If we can roll with the punches and accept a more modest lifestyle and be content with what we have, we will be much happier people. Forcing our husbands into huge debt is extremely destructive and selfish. God wants us to live well within our means and be responsible financial stewards of the income He provides for us.
- Many people will face unemployment during the course of their marriage. These days, it is just the way the economy is, and it is often not something that a person can prevent. If we can realize that each day that we have our jobs is a gift from God – and that things can change any time – we don’t have control over that. We can have a lot more peace. I believe we as wives need to be frugal in our spending so that we can build up a savings, tithe, and stay out of debt. Then if we or our husbands do lose our jobs, we should have some extra savings that will help during an emergency. We do not need the nicest things. Let’s focus on godliness with contentment and let’s not get ensnared in the idolatry of money and luxury. This is part of the path to peace.
- Husbands are human. They make mistakes. And they are not omniscient or omnipotent. They may decide to invest in something and lose money. That is a risk we take when we invest money into anything. It is our job to tell them our desires and fears if we don’t want them to invest a certain way. But then, for the most part, we will let our husbands decide what they think is best about investing – or we will decide together about investing. If we lose money – blaming our husbands or blaming one another is destructive and unhelpful. We can trust that God can even use this situation for our ultimate good and His glory. Our reaction when things go wrong, our support of our husbands even when they make mistakes or seem to “fail” may be the difference between our husbands becoming paralyzed or them becoming stronger, better, wiser and more godly leaders.
- Many women today make a HUGE mistake of not thinking about wanting to go part time or stop working when they have children. Many women think they don’t want children. Or they think that they can “have it all” – a marriage, a career and children. Let me just say – that is NOT TRUE! You can have those things at different times… but trying to have them all at the same time is extremely difficult and you will have to neglect something. Usually, it is the marriage that gets neglected the most – and a mother’s health. When many women do get pregnant – they often plan to keep working full time when the baby comes. But there is a big snag. Usually, once a mom sees her baby and holds her baby and bonds with him/her – she doesn’t want to leave the baby. She suddenly realizes that God created mamas to take care of their babies. She wants to nurse the baby and be the one to change the diapers and be the one to see the first smile and to see the first teeth coming through and to hear the first words and watch the first steps and she begins to realize the enormity of what she will miss if she is working 40+ hours per week. But many women today never discussed staying home with their children before marriage or even before getting pregnant. They just assumed they would be fine to keep working. So many couples buy houses that have huge mortgages and expensive cars and a lifestyle that requires two incomes. Now the husband will tend to resent the hang out of his wife if he feels she agreed to work and they bought a house based on both incomes – and suddenly his wife wants to quit working. My personal suggestion is that couples discuss this possibility before marriage and prepare so that the wife can be part time or stay home full time if/when children are born so that they have a financial plan that will allow for this dramatic drop in income. I love the idea of living on the husband’s income and saving the wife’s income and/or using her income to pay off debt and one time expenses. And – keep in mind. MANY women think they HAVE to work and that the family cannot survive without a second income. That is usually not true. The costs of traveling to work, daycare (which is easily $4000-$5000/year per child), lunch out 5 days a week, expensive work clothes, brand name new baby clothes, brand name baby accessories, eating out 4-5 nights per week because mom is too tired to cook – can actually end up costing the family more than the mother brings in. There are creative ways to be frugal and to be able to be home a lot more or all the time if the husband and wife are willing to do this. But please do NOT spring this idea on your husband the day your baby is born, or the day you are supposed to go back to work when the baby is 6 weeks old. ASSUME that you may want to be home if you have children and plan accordingly. Then if you want to still work full time, great! But you won’t be financially trapped into working full time and resenting your house and your husband.
- In some families, the husband always takes care of the yard work, the trash, the cars, and fix-it projects around the house. Your husband may or may not have grown up with the same expectations. I have known couples who have had really serious fights over who takes out the trash. In her family, the Dad always did, and in his family, his mom always did. And so no one takes out the trash and both spouses wait for the other one to handle it. Ideally, discuss the division of labor before you marry – when you are engaged. Then you will have more realistic expectations. But if things change after you get married – be flexible and roll with the changes.