Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The End of Expectations

I was walking with a friend the other day, and we were talking about how we don’t really learn anything until we go through it. I said,
“You don’t know what you don’t know until you know it.”

Coming to the understanding of things—to realizations about oneself, others and relationships—can be painful. It pops the balloons of imagination and splinters expectations. But that is a good thing, because what we imagine, or expect life to be like, or people to be like, or babies and children to be like, or a new job or house to be like, is usually a self-centered perspective.

When we get married, we may imagine how our husbands will be, but it will be our imagination, often not based on reality or past experience with the man who was our boyfriend before he became our husband.

Boyfriend to husband and girlfriend to wife is just a title change: the person is still the same. Yet we allow ourselves to fall into this weird twilight zone of believing that a status change constitutes a personality or character change as well. And it all comes as a result of how we perceive it will be, and not based on how it has been or currently is.

In this process of what is often known as wishful thinking, we tend to forget that we will undergo a title change as well. Do we give any regard at all to the fact that we are going from girlfriend to wife, or boyfriend to husband? Do we consider what that means? Or do our expectations only include how our future husband or wife will be: how he or she will now act, respond, communicate and contribute now that he or she is our spouse?

This is something I feel is not talked about when couples date. They may daydream together about how they’ll raise their kids, or the trips they’ll take together, or where they’ll live. But they often don’t share what their perception of their fiancé as a spouse is.

They often don’t share things such as,
 “When we’re married, you’ll take care of the lawn and I’ll take care of all the car repairs.”
They often don’t say,
“Once we’re married, I’ll cook on the days you work late, and you can cook on the weekends.”
They often neglect to posit their assumption that,
"When we're married, you'll always be able to read my mind."

Even if couples live together before marriage, they often think that the act of simply going through a marriage ceremony is going to change everything bad in their relationship, or make up for whatever is lacking.

And when that doesn’t happen, couples are overwhelmed by the fact that their expectations are not being met.

Couples drowning in disillusionment—and the stress that follows—have three rather dismal options: close themselves off from their spouse and hunker down for a life of walking on egg shells; constant bickering and nit-picking, or jumping ship.

Or they can grab a rather hopeful and joyful life buoy: honest and open communication with hearts and minds humbly grounded in reality. They can look at each other and their situation and actually talk to one another, instead of communicating only with the voices in their own individual heads.

Putting all expectations away, they can each share with the other what they are struggling with and what they would like to see changed. Having each been affirmably heard, they can come to agreements and compromises that will allow them to go forward in confidence that the marriage can and truly will grow in strength, love and respect.

But it means turning off the “me” spigot and jumping into the pool of “we,” humbly realizing that our spouse has just as much value and need to be loved and respected as we do.

We are not in a marriage for our own benefit and wellbeing. Each of us is placed in marriage for the glory of God first, and for the other person second. And when God is indeed glorified in the daily life of the marriage, the other person is as well. 

copyright Barb Harwood

“Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of like mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfish or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.” Philippians 2: 1-7

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