Secrets of a Newlywed: Being Aware of Your Expectations
This is the next post in Secrets of a Newlywed, a series where I open up and share some of the lessons, insights and understandings--the little secrets--that have made my marriage the wedded bliss that it is. Like anything else, they are easier said than done. But I know from personal experience that when I do manage to live them out, I've seen what beautiful fruit they bear in my relationship with my husband.
So, today, I share another with you: Being Aware of Your Expectations.
I remember when my husband and I were going through our marriage-counseling seminars (the same ones where we wives were coached, “Remember, you did not marry Brad Pitt!”). The seminars were filled with workbook pages and breaks for us to talk over things like how to address conflict, what we wanted our marriage to look like, and what kinds of expectations we had.
“I don’t have any expectations,” I remember thinking. On second thought, I realized I did have one expectation: That my husband would take out the trash, a chore I looked forward to retiring when I got to wear that pretty silver ring.
But to my innocent mind, I couldn’t think of anything else I expected from my husband.
That’s the thing about expectations, you don’t realize you have them until it’s too late…
Fast forward to the day-in-day-out reality of married life: Inevitably, I'd find myself upset over something my husband did or didn’t do. At some point along the way, I realized how many of those incidents were linked to expectations of mine that had prowled beneath the surface.
Whether it was that I expected him to want to spend a Saturday evening mooning over romantic comedies with me rather than want to check out a concert or that I expected him to applaud the fact that I found natural dish soap marked down for something ridiculous like $0.50, I suddenly realized that I was filled—overflowing, actually—with these sorts of expectations.
The truth is, they’re not things you consciously decide on; they’re just the things you just think are normal and natural, which is why it never occurred to me to question them in the first place. That's what makes them so stealthy; they sneak into your marriage without you even realizing it!
The problem with these kinds of expectations, though, is that they're a recipe for disaster. Because who can live up to our lofty expectations? No one, and certainly not our husbands. If we nurse these expectations, we're setting ourselves up to be discouraged, disappointed and angry. Which is no way to live a marriage, if we can help it.
It must have been the grace of the Holy Spirit more than anything else, but slowly I started to catch hold of this truth. In the midst of me feeling discouraged or frustrated, I'd suddenly realize what was really going on: "It was all about my expectations! That's why I'm upset!"
That simple recognition was a turning point in those times when I was tempted to be upset over something that didn't fit what I felt ought to be "normal." Like a helium balloon popped and slinking down to the floor in a tangled bunch of colored plastic, those realizations did wonders to keep emotions from escalating and prick my selfishness, showing it for what it really was.
(To read through all the posts in this series, click here.)
Secrets of a Newlywed: Get Used to Saying, “I'm Sorry”
Secrets of a Newlywed: What Can You Do for Him?