“Now, however, it is time to forgive and comfort him. Otherwise, he may be overcome by discouragement. So I urge you now to reaffirm your love for him.”
2 Corinthians 2:7-8
My husband and I have been married for almost 3 years. No, that isn’t a long time, but I want to share with you one major thing that I have learned up until this point. I have learned that in marriage, in any relationship really, I can’t set expectations on my husband or anyone else. This was a hard pill for me to swallow, but here I am writing about it.
Quick back story; we were”boyfriend and girlfriend” from elementary playgrounds to high school softball games. You know those titles back in the day were pretty much just that, titles for liking someone and seeing them here and there. I liked him, he liked me, we would hang out. It was nice and innocent. Then we lost touch, got back in touch, hung out, got married and here we are today.
My Meeting with God
Almost 3 years later and one of the biggest things I’ve learned SO FAR is not to set expectations on my husband (a spouse). The expectations that I set in my mind were set with a selfish motive and that’s not what marriage is to be. “Knowing why we are married and should stay married is crucial. The key question is this: Will we approach marriage from a God-centered view or a self-centered view? In a self-centered view, we will maintain our marriage as long as our earthly comforts, desires, and expectations are met. In a God-centered view, we preserve our marriage because it brings glory to God and points a sinful world to a reconciling Creator.”
After really only having 2 “real” relationships in my 29 years of life, my expectation of how I wanted and knew I should be loved was set pretty high, but not by any imperfect person. My expectation was set (especially after my last “relationship”) to the ultimate highest. The next man that was going to love me, better love me the way I knew Jesus had all these years.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with that thought because ultimately that is how we are loved by Him and how we should be loved by others. However, for my imperfect spouse (your imperfect spouse as well), that could be a tall order.
After going through a little, “Who am I?” quest, I realized why I was asking this question simply by spending some time with God. After laying out my questions and frustrations before God, and wondering if I was lovable to my husband, I literally came to a conclusion that swept my feet from right under me. My focus was not on the love I should have been focusing on. My focus was on the expectation that I set on my husband to love me the way that only God can love me; unconditionally. I expected my husband to have perfect love and show me that love every minute of every day. I expected compliments every time he passed by me, I wanted him to bring me flowers, I wanted him to be the loving guy that makes me feel like I am the only woman in the world. I’m not saying he doesn’t do those things. I am saying that my expectation was literally out of this world, and my husband is only human.
My Big Expectation
Yes, my husband can make me feel this way with lots of time and effort and practice, but as his wife, I needed to understand that my husband is in a season of life right now that maybe God is working on something different than what I am expecting him to work on. Or maybe it’s a season of growing in love for God and not me. That’s between him and the Lord. “If you treat a man as he is, he will stay as he is. But if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become the bigger and better man.” My job isn’t to sit there and tell him what he should be doing, but I should be focusing on what it is that I am to learn in my marriage as a wife.
Honestly, before this meeting I had with God about all of this, I never saw anything in our marriage this way. I literally thought to myself, “He’ll wake up every morning and tell me I’m beautiful.” Rainbows and butterflies, you know? Reality check, yes, some things that matter to me matter to him but not everything, and that’s okay. You see, my focus and dependency for love should never be fully on my husband because he’s imperfect and visa versa. “We need to be called out of ourselves because, in truth, we are incomplete. God made us to find our fulfillment in Him- the Totally Other. Marriage shows us that we are not all there is; it calls us to give way to another, but also to find joy, happiness and even ecstasy in another.”
Lesson in Marriage
The beauty of expectation is that God allows us to come to a point in our imperfect marriages/relationships to show us that only He’s perfect. When our focus is on our relationship and walk with Him, He allows us to grow in ways that only He can grow us. He does this so that these two imperfect people may look to Him to oversee the marriage/relationship. Only then, can we love each other more like Him.. when he’s the One leading our expectations and meeting them daily. “We can be thankful for our fellow sinners when we spend more time looking for “evidence of grace” than we do finding fault. If my wife (husband) is more aware of where she falls short in my eyes than she is of how I am witnessing evidence of God’s grace in her journey of progressive sanctification, then I am a legalistic husband (wife), akin to Pharisee. Giving respect is an obligation, not a favor; it is an act of maturity, birthed in a profound understanding of God’s good grace.”
May our focus and identity not be found in another imperfect human being, but let it be on what we are to be learning from it, and how God is changing us both to be a better representation of Him.
What are your thoughts on this? Let me know in the comments.