It’s funny how when we’re younger some of us dream of finding that special someone. We look for the ideal perfect person that we think will make our life complete. Little do we know, we’ve fallen prey to a definition of love we conjured up in our minds; it’s influenced by the movies we see, books we read, by our favorite television shows, images we see on Facebook or other forms of social media. Before we know it, many of us find ourselves either growing impatient looking for our Prince Charming, or tying the knot with someone we anticipate to meet all of our unrealistic expectations. It’s quite the rude awakening, when we realize our spouse can’t make us happy. Then we are left with the questions: “Should I call it quits?” “Is my marriage worth fighting for?” “Am I better off without him/her?”
In my younger married years, I found myself setting unattainable expectations for my husband and then becoming very disappointed when he didn’t meet them. I was confident he needed to be a certain way or treat me a particular way. I’m not sure why I felt so entitled or why I would put so much pressure on him. It certainly wasn’t healthy for neither him nor me. We both didn’t have necessarily the right or wrong way of doing things, they were just different ways. No doubt we both had our baggage, carrying around issues we both needed to deal with. We found ourselves as two imperfect people trying to have a perfect marriage!
I’m sure my upbringing and examples of other marriages around me contributed to what I thought our marriage should look like. Still, it was unreasonable for me to think…
- He knows how I want to be loved. I shouldn’t assume we speak the same love language.
- He sees things the way I do. How could he? He’s an entirely different being.
- He would love the same things I do. Just because he did the things I loved while we were dating, doesn’t mean he loved them too!
- He would do things the way I do them Again, how could he? He was raised in a different home, different environment, and so he thinks differently
My list can go on and on.Undoubtedly my list of unrealistic expectations weighed on him, me and our marriage. The worse part is I based my happiness on whether or not he met these expectations. It was unfair! God didn’t make my husband to make me happy!
Don’t get me wrong, the happiest moments of my life have been with my husband. Our anniversaries, the days our babies were born, the days we spent traveling the world together and other fond memories we’ve created together as a family, all of which he was part of! Yet, God never wanted my happiness to depend upon my husband. Happiness is a choice I alone make.
I can remember our first trip to Paris, France. It was a long-awaited trip that I had dreamed of. Unfortunately, Juan, my husband did not feel the same way. He was dealing with the cost of the trip; and he was still unsure if he wanted to spend his hard-earned money on something he wasn’t that excited about. The trip was a roller coaster of emotions! We could hardly have a sweet conversation. Everywhere we went he grumbled or complained. We were both tense and guarded, so we spent most of our trip giving each other the cold shoulder. I was so hurt. I didn’t understand why he couldn’t enjoy himself. Finally what looked like the most romantic dinner at a beautiful restaurant on the Eiffel Tower climaxed with feelings of remorse! I was in tears. I was broken over his attitude throughout the trip. I prayed and decided I was going to be happy whether or not he was going to enjoy France. We had about two or three days left in Paris and thankfully once I moved out-of-the-way, God was able to speak to him. He was a changed man! We spent the last day running around Paris creating beautiful memories. I was relieved to leave Paris like lovebirds on cloud nine!
After Paris, it became abruptly obvious we are two different beings with different interests, different ways of looking at things and different thoughts. It’s a funny thought that I should have known how different we were earlier on. In fact, during our courtship, we took a compatibility test (it was required by the church where our wedding would be officiated) and we actually failed the test! I can remember the Pastor of the church trying to convince us not to get married! He was surprised our relationship had survived nearly 6 years of dating. So here we were two different people, trying to be one.
The truth is unrealistic expectations are a prominent killer in marriages. Many have thrown in the towel in marriage because they found their spouse not making them happy, not meeting their expectations or they feeling they’re too different to ever make it work. Juan and I were headed the same direction if we didn’t take the necessary action.Thankfully, there are a few things Juan and I established in our marriage early on and it has saved us over and over again.
- God’s Word is the Final Authority in every area of our life, especially marriage.
To me this one agreement is HUGE! If either one of us does not stay accountable to anything or anyone, we can reason in our minds any immoral action as permissible. Unfortunately, our minds and hearts can deceive us. Having the Bible as a guide and counselor to our actions, helps us handle the conflicts in our marriage. If we can’t agree, we turn to the Bible to see what it says about the disagreement.
- We will never mention Divorce.
If we allow it to come out of our mouths, it will resonate in our hearts and mind. It doesn’t take long before we act upon out thoughts. We made a covenant with one another, a commitment and we don’t intend on backing out!
- We will always be accessible to one another.
I feel like this requires some maturity but it establishes a great foundation for trust. I don’t have to worry if my husband is hiding anything, because he’s an open book at all times.
- We will read marriage books.
In my younger years, I hated to read. Now I can’t tell you how much I love to read! It has enriched my life in so many areas. Marriage books specifically, help bring insight into our marriage. It’s a great way for married couples of any length of time to better their marriage. 1 Peter 3:7 tells husbands to live with their wives according to knowledge. Marital books can provide new wisdom for you and your spouse. Juan and I picked up our first marital book during our engagement. After four years of dating, we thought we uncovered everything about one another. Once we dived into the book, we realized there was still a lot we didn’t know about each other.
- We will attend marriage seminars, classes and workshops regularly. Juan and I don’t want to wait till our marriage is falling apart to revive it. We want to avoid as many unnecessary challenges as possible by learning from others. Interestingly enough, anytime people dive into a new venture, they learn about it. Let’s apply the same principle in marriage by learning more about successful marriages through classes, workshops or seminars.
Just because we have made these commitments to one another doesn’t mean we still don’t have to work at our marriage. As many of you married couples know, marriage is not something you work on once and awhile, it is something you have to work at to maintain. It requires A LOT of time, sacrifice, hard work, and selflessness, especially on the days you don’t feel like it. Unquestionably, there were days I didn’t feel like loving my husband or being married. Especially when I felt like he wasn’t doing things the way I thought he should. Regardless, I made a covenant with him and God. I vowed to be with my husband for life!
It’s taken us years to learn how to communicate with one another, and share what is important to each other. Even as we age, we change, grow and adapt. So, we pour into our marriage as often as possible. We take a book on marriage anytime we have a date night. Whether we read a paragraph or a chapter, we apply the principles we learn to our marriage. In addition to the books we read, we attend a “Winning Marriage” class at our church. It’s not a one-on-one session, rather a group setting where we all discuss marriage related topics. I find it most helpful learning from other marriages with like-mindedness. We are all in it for the long haul!
When Juan doesn’t meet my expectations, I don’t yell at him, pressure him into it or nag at him like I used to. The First thing I do is PRAY! I pour out my heart to God. If I’m broken, I cry out to Him. If I’m hurting, I let Him mend me. If I’m lost for words, I pull out prayer books. Then, I allow God to examine my heart. I question my intentions: “Am I setting an unrealistic expectation?” “How important is this expectation to me?” IF I should communicate to my husband about my disappointments, how and when would it be wise for me to approach him?” God knows my husband better than I do.God knows of ways to touch his heart, ways to reach him, or grab his attention better than I. He made my husband! It becomes a matter of trust.’ Do I trust God with my husband, with my marriage and with my heart?’
From the beginning God has advocated for marriage; He designed it. Gen 2: 18 says, “Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” I can trust God with my marriage because He wants it to work. In fact He doesn’t want anyone or anything to tear it apart! Mark 10:9 says, “Let no one split apart what God has joined together.” I have no doubt God has brought Juan and I together. Despite our differences, God is going to demonstrate His grace, love and power in our marriage. If we were at this alone, just the two of us, failure may have been an option. But with God in our marriage, we are a triple-braided cord and we will not be broken! Eccl 4:12, “…Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”
The second thing I do is get counsel. Prov 15:22 says, “Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success.” When we are alone we can convince ourselves to do things we’ll regret later. The scripture says things can go wrong when we don’t consult with others but success is guaranteed when we do. It is also important to seek the right individuals when looking for advice. I’m going to look for someone who has a successful marriage to counsel me. I’m going to make sure they have the same moral standards I do. Furthermore, I’m going to make sure the Bible is the final authority in their lives too.
So what kind of marriage is worth fighting for? I’d say most marriages are worth fighting for! I would love to say all marriages are worth fighting for but sadly in this world we have abuse, adultery and addictions. Regarding your marriage it’s ultimately your choice. Can God turn anything around? Absolutely! I’ve seen divorced remarry, separated come back together; those that hated each other learn to love again. It’s a matter of whether not you and your spouse want it to work. It’s a decision you both make. We can’t stay married to someone who doesn’t want to be married to us; but if there’s an ounce of hope, God can restore! Jesus said in Mark 10 it’s because of the hardness of hearts married couples get divorced. Fight and pray for you and your spouse’s heart from hardening. Get help from experienced couples, read marital books and pray for God to mend, and heal.
I’m praying for every married person who reads this blog…“Father in the name of Jesus, I pray for every married person reading this blog. God I pray you bring hope to the hopeless, healing to those that are broken or hurting, and the courage to step out in faith for their marriage. I place their marriage in your unfailing hands. Give them the wisdom, counsel and direction to restore any brokenness. Help them to lay aside any pride, selfishness, stubbornness, and bitterness. Bring forgiveness, submission and love. For love conquers all! I pray for a spirit of harmony and a special grace to be upon these couples as they communicate one with another and make the necessary changes. Help them to know their marriage is worth the fight! I come against the enemy and his evil tactics to destroy these couples’ marriages. I call those strategies null and void. He will not prevail in giving these individuals or their children involved, the scars and pain of divorce. Thank you God for your miracle-working power to redeem their marriage from destructive spirits. Thank you God for restoring oneness, a team mentality and a tenacity not to give up! When you are with us God, nothing stands against us. Thank you for standing and fighting with us for our marriages to work! I speak peace, comfort and joy to their hearts and minds. Thank you God for hope in their marriages! In Jesus’ name. Amen”
I love this cute saying my Pastor uses when referencing his marriage: “We started out in the Courtship, went to the Battleship, and now we’re in the Cruise-ship.” I’m believing all our marriages will be like we’re cruising through life with our best friend.
Can you relate to my unrealistic expectations or the frustrations of having a spouse so different from you? Do you regularly attend a marital class? What has helped your marriage? Is there something I can pray for your marriage about?