Before climbing out of bed each morning, our thoughts travel to expectations. We expect that we’ll have a busy day at work with project deadlines. We expect that we’ll have to return phone calls. We expect that we may have to prepare dinner, or at least dial for carryout.
Our days are filled with expectations because we anticipate, imagine or require something from others — and they of us.
Let’s take a look at what e.x.p.e.c.t. may mean to you.
Every relationship, in the beginning, is new and exciting. You look forward to every phone call and hearing each other’s voice. You can’t wait for the next date and the time you’ll spend together. The very first expectations might be — I want this person in my life to be fun, spontaneous, confident, passionate, honest, flexible, sensitive and much more. I love spending time with him/her.
This is becoming a serious relationship. Expectations begin to shift and you realize this is someone I may want to spend the rest of my life with. How will he or she serve my needs?
While these expectations listed may appear realistic, they are myths, and they’ll set you up for disappointment, feelings of anger, boredom and loneliness. Few marriages live up to these standards.
See the pattern? Each expectation is about “me” — there is no room for “we.” When expectations are unrealistic and you look to a future spouse to meet every need and fill up the emptiness inside, you’ve automatically set yourself up for dissatisfaction.
The biggest lie our culture feeds us is this: a soul mate is out there waiting for you and they’ll bring true satisfaction to your life.
I’ve got a surprise for you — you’re perfect soul mate will not be found in a future spouse.
Your soul mate is Jesus Christ.
He’s the one that brings excitement and adventure to your life and fills up the empty hole in your heart. He’s there to meet every emotional, relational, physical and spiritual need a spouse cannot.
And… He can enter your life with a simple invitation.
- I expect my future spouse to direct all of their attention toward me.
This relationship is not all about you and your needs. True relationship is about what we can give to another. Jesus wasn’t me-focused, he was other-focused. When relationship is all about my wants, my desires and my needs — a deep soul connection will not happen. Connection is occurring in one direction with the focus being… you.
True connection happens when we exhibit one simple Christ characteristic – the heart of a servant. It’s when the needs of another person are more important than your own. It’s when you give of yourself without expecting anything in return.
That’s the way Jesus lived His life.
It’s hard to believe right now, but there is a possibility the passion you have for each other will change. Is diminishing passion something to expect? No. Changing passion is. Can passion for each other last a lifetime? Absolutely!
I’ve discovered in my marriage that passion and praise go hand-in-hand. Without words of praise, passion dies and without passion, praise dies.
Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of wise people brings healing. Proverbs 12:18 (NIV)
There will be a time when unkind words are exchanged – they will pierce the heart. Your response can either build passion or destroy it.
If you say “thank you,” “you did a great job” and “I love you,” it builds passion and creates feelings of love and respect. When love and respect are experienced in marriage — passion thrives. When words are used that tear down, belittle and make you feel superior — passion dies.
That’s where you have a choice.
Keep the passion alive and thriving for a lifetime, or slowly kill it with harsh words.
- I expect the issues we’ve experienced together will fade after we’re married.
Unfortunately, the same issues will still be here, but they’ll be magnified with the power of a neutron microscope. It’s takes effort and honest inner reflection to look at the issues. Hoping things will change or slowly fade away is unrealistic. Issues have a way of resurfacing.
Effort could mean, working with a marriage mentor or counselor.
It takes effort to keep a relationship growing. If you’re not moving forward together, then you’re going in reverse. Things are easy now and spontaneous. But, spontaneity will require planning and effort in the future.
- I expect that if we truly love each other, we’ll never argue.
There is one thing I can absolutely guarantee in your relationship — conflict.
Conflict is a good thing. It means you’re negotiating and working through your differences. If you’re avoiding conflict at all costs, then you’re not working through issues — you’re avoiding them. One idealized concept is: If we pick the right person, we’ll prevent conflict.
We long for and expect perfection. Yet, when we look in the mirror, perfection doesn’t stare back at us. Two broken and sinful people do not make a perfect couple. They make a flawed couple that needs to strive toward making their relationship better every day. Because of differences, negotiation needs to happen — and that means conflict!
- I expect that we will never have serious troubles.
Of course, you hope you will never have serious troubles. But realistically, they happen in every marriage. Scripture tells us to expect it.
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
You may experience:
- Job loss
- Death of a family member
- An accident
Where will you turn during these times?
Building a community of like-minded couples that can pray for you and do life with you is essential for marital and individual growth. Community offers love, care, hope and accountability for your marriage.
Troubles will come.
Align your expectations realistically.
Discuss expectations together to determine if they can be experienced, or if they’ll need adjustment. Then…you can look forward to a healthier marriage.
Copyright © 2007 Sheri Mueller, Growthtrac Ministries.