This is long one, guys. Many thoughts. I hope you stick it out with me.
First things first: I am relentlessly and unconditionally loved by God, and have all I will ever need in Him.
Granted, we all were created with a desire/need for love by other humans. But when I expect from my husband what only God can give or be for me, the days are going to be slightly dreary. I’ll continually be disappointed, easily annoyed, and probably not very kind.
Within the first 6-8 months of our marriage, reality set in, graciously. Some of my expectations were:
- Expecting J to instinctively know how I was feeling.
- Expecting love to be a natural response instead of a fruit of the Spirit that must be chosen and cultivated.
- Thinking he would eat, live, and breathe romance. (Although the man is sweet.)
- Thinking that he would think like me. (I think more like him now, and I’m thankful.)
Taking him and myself too seriously, my righteousness becoming my marriage and not Christ’s work, holding him under standards set by me. Poor guy, what an impossible burden for him.
Being that we are married, there is a certain healthy expectation of each other. For example, I expect J to be protective of me. I expect him to love me through my ridiculousness, to desire my companionship, and to be in my corner. He expects me to pray for him, to care about what’s going on in his day, to support him. A beautiful union.
I read a blog post last week, and the author said this:
“I can only control half of this equation. I can’t expect some specific kind display of affection that measures up to my wants, and then complain when it doesn’t happen. Maybe my husband has his own unspoken hopes of being loved a certain way. Maybe I am a bit too self-focused. Maybe I expect more than I offer.”
Gets me in my gut. I confess, my default perspective used to be a high expectation, because I often have rigid, high expectations of myself. I think, I feel this pressure to keep up with these certain things, so should he. (Um, enter “Love doesn’t keep a record of wrongs” conviction here.)
But, I think giving creates more space for receiving.
For example, we are currently in the midst of J’s busy season at work. If he comes home, and I’ve made dinner, have his favorite movie queued up, and embrace him as he comes through the door, I think he would feel extra loved. If I then later ask him to do something for me, or share an expectation I have, I believe he would more joyfully and readily listen.
I’m not saying it should be tit for tat, but my giving creates an energy for his giving. But, we often don’t feel like giving love, because we’re drained, or feeling selfish, or insecure (looking at myself here). What then? We look to the Lord to fill us. First.
My husband, while great and sweet, isn’t responsible for fulfilling me entirely; being an imperfect person, he cannot make sure my tank is full every single minute. That might be part of his desire, but he’s an individual with his own needs, hopes, struggles, seasons of life, etc. And that’s okay. It’s not a bad thing. Because it’s a cup only God can fill.
In God, what we truly need, we already have. Our joy then, is not based solely on two sinners.
This frees us to not resent our spouses for what they don’t do, and to be grateful for the things they do.
We can love them in their imperfections, we can laugh easier, we are released from the pressure of having to fix another person.
We can play on each others’ strengths and weaknesses, and humble ourselves enough to be vulnerable, to apologize, to forgive.
We trust God to do the work in our spouse’s heart that we can never do. We get to witness, and give God all the glory, for the ways He restores our spouse daily, making them new.
When Christ is our delight, we become more delightful. When Christ is our strength, we become stronger. When Christ is our satisfaction, we can more readily offer ourselves.
We each give the best we can, confidence high in Christ, and hope our marriage is a glimpse of a much greater Love.
This is the goal. Jesus, help us.
—- Those who are married, or engaged, or dating, can you relate to this? Have you learned something new in your relationship lately?