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?
Lauren English says
Wow, this is beautiful and SO describes our first few years of marriage! I’ve had (and still struggle with having) lots of expectations of how Jordan will treat me instead of focusing on loving him well. I love how you say our giving creates the energy for the other person to give and receive. That is beautiful, Chelsea! I love this whole post!
Martha Lutier says
You hit the nail on the head with this one, Chels! We do indeed have to choose love even we don’t feel like loving, whether it be loving our spouses or others. Thanks for this great reminder and some new insights on how to love well!
Hannah Olson says
This is so amazing! I relate to so much of this! Thank you for sharing! I think I definitely came into marriage assuming now that we were married, my first reaction would be love! God has already worked so much in our almost-2 year marriage, and I am so grateful for the story He’s writing in our relationship. I love this post!
heather m. says
Goodness how all your words hit home today… You are wise beyond your years my dear ♥ Thank you for this! I read last week that you should pray for your marriage more than you talk about it (and I’m sure that includes our own mutterings in our minds about where we think it’s going off the tracks!) And it’s so true that once we understand how God loves us it’s so much easier to really love others. ♥ Blessings on your marriage girl!
Hannah Walden says
This is so touching, Chels! Really, really channeling God’s message to married people, I think. I agree with every word. I will say it is wonderful that you have already come to these realizations now. I’m struggling now to think of how to serve my husband daily rather than just survive with two young children. Loved this post! Keep up the good work!
And I would love to know what you do for study time/quiet time each day. What tools do you use? I could use some new ideas. ?
Chelsea B.E. says
Hannah! I’m so glad you left a comment. It made me smile. I bet the season of life you are currently different is vastly different than any other, with its own specific joys and struggles. And I know you do a GREAT job at it.
I think I’ll Facebook-message you about that last question. :)
Chelsea B.E. says
Heather, I am so glad you left a comment. I also am struck by what you said: “pray for your marriage more than you talk about it.” That is HUGE. Thank you so much for your kind words!
Chelsea B.E. says
Hannah, thank you for commenting! I can certainly relate to the thinking that my default response would be love. Man, that would got me. That it would genuinely be a choice sometimes, and not always flow in spades, haha.
Blessings for you, sister.
Chelsea B.E. says
Thank you, Lauren, for those kind and affirming words! Us girls are all in this together, right? ;)
Lovely post! I got married almost 10 months ago and there is so much to learn! By God’s grace, it has been easier than I had expected it to be, but still, I love hearing what other new wives have learned and share what God has taught me during my few first months of marriage.
It’s tough NOT to expect love to be an immediate feeling/reaction when our culture makes it seem like it should be! Plus, it does seem to come naturally in the beginning. I love what you said here, it’s all so true!
This is beautiful and so meticulously said.
I try to remember that the reason we worked out in the very beginning is because we had no expectations for where our relationship would lead. In past relationships I would always be keeping score of whether or not I could marry this person. With Tom, we had been friends for 2+ years, so we just continued being friends but with a more official title and little physical benefits ;) (which was definitely kind of awkward at first, after being friend-zoned for so long! haha!)
Now, I find myself setting up ridiculous expectations for him. Expectations that he simply cannot meet. Like, “get home earlier” … uhh poor guy can’t control Atlanta’s insane traffic! Then I get crabby the minute he walks in the door. He needs me to love him and support him! It’s hard, because like you mention, I hold myself to high standards too… and then expect him to do the same. That’s not fair. However, there is something to be said of holding yourself to standards that God sets for us and striving to live by those…. I’m feeling another post coming on. Love this. So spot on!
I love this! You have such a way with words. This is something I think so many people struggle with (myself included). It’s so easy to forget that God should fill our gaps. We want our husbands to do that because they mean so much to us. I’m feeling very convicted now too. Thanks for writing this!
Chelsea B.E. says
Joy, we are kindred spirits. “Like, “get home earlier” … uhh poor guy can’t control Atlanta’s insane traffic! Then I get crabby the minute he walks in the door.” I literally have experienced this feeling only recently! Haha, madness. ;)
Glad you commented!