Maybe you don’t think you have any unmet expectations in your marriage. Maybe you think you’re married to the perfect man and will have perfect babies and live happily ever after.
Or, you could be on the other end of the spectrum; you have a list with a trillion unmet expectations. In marriage, we sometimes expect our partner to make us feel the way we do after reading a romance novel or watching a romantic comedy. But, all too often the reality is far from what Hallmark projects. So, what do we do with our unmet expectations?
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Before we can begin the process of setting realistic expectations, we must figure out what our unmet expectations are. For many years before my marriage, I was a heavy consumer of all things romance. I loved the stories and the movies where Prince Charming came in and swept the woman off her feet.
For the duration of the film or novel, I suspended my belief that a woman was capable of taking care of herself. Was it any wonder then that when I started dating I expected this kind of fairytale relationship?
You know the kind—the man knows exactly what the woman wants. He gives her everything she desires while the woman basks in the joy of her man’s attention. At the same time, she’s slaying dragons at work, is an excellent chef and housekeeper. She spends time bonding with her girlfriends and family members. She also manages to be model-pretty at every opportunity.
After I got married, I had to admit that I had unrealistic expectations of love. I learned that to deal with unmet expectations in marriage you have to be brave enough to admit they exist. You have to be brave enough to state what they are.
Here’s a list of some of those unrealistic expectations we bring into our marriages.
Our husband the mind-reader: While it’s true that most women talk more than men, we sometimes find it difficult to tell our husbands what we expect from them. Somehow we’ve gotten the idea that it is selfish or unreasonable to ask for what we want. We either train ourselves to stop wanting it. Or, we still want it, we just don’t ask for it. At the same time, we expect our husband to intuitively know what we want and provide it.
The sexual stallion: Sitcoms like Sex and the City gave the impression that the man must be good in bed. As wives, we think every sexual encounter must be mind-blowing or it's not worth talking about. (I’m an eighties child so forgive me if my references are outdated).
The endless stream of income: The male lead in most romance novels is handsome with an inexhaustible source of income. This causes us to believe that budgeting and conservative spending are distasteful and should be avoided at all costs.
When expectations are not met, our marriage can become a breeding place for discord and disunity. Use the expectations in marriage worksheet to make note of some of the expectations you have for your husband.
Now that you have a list of your marriage expectations, it's time for us to find out what God says. The best way to get an idea of what God intended in marriage is to read Genesis. Based on the account in Genesis 1–2, we identify the following marriage expectations for men:
A man needs a female companion: God created a help meet for Adam because it “was not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). As people made in God’s image, humanity desires companionship and love.
The man is the main provider: Before God gave Adam a wife He gave him a job (Genesis 2:8, 15). It was God’s intention for man to perform honest labor.
A man should have a relationship with his Creator: After man was created, we see him and God working together. God brought the animals to Adam who named them (Genesis 2:19).
The man should recognize God as sovereign: Adam was given dominion over the earth and could eat freely of every tree in the garden with one exception. When he disobeyed and ate the forbidden fruit, he and his wife were cast out of Eden. This tells us that while man was superior to everything on earth, he was submissive to God.
A man should leave his parents and cleave to his wife: Though Adam had no earthly parents, the Bible tells us “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). When a man marries, a new family unit is formed—the man and his wife become “one flesh”.
A man is united with his wife: You can’t become “one flesh” with someone unless the two of you are in complete accord. I believe the intimacy God wanted to see in marriage mimics the unity which exists among the Godhead.
The husband is not the only person for whom God had expectations in marriage. He also created a model for wives.
Created to be an ezer: The first time woman was referenced in Scripture was as a need man had. “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him” (Genesis 2:18 KJV). It was at that point God created woman to be man’s support. As wives, we play a supporting role in our husband’s life.
Created for intimacy: A man is called to leave his parents and cleave to his wife. But he can’t become one flesh with someone who’s not willing to be intimate with him. Contrary to what the world teaches, intimacy has nothing to do with sex. Intimacy is a soul-deep connection with someone else.
Intimacy is the close bond you feel with your spouse. The person makes you comfortable and you are familiar with them. In the context of a marriage, this means both parties feel comfortable with each.
Called to submit: After the Fall, the woman was instructed to submit to her husband. When you submit, you accept or yield to the authority or will of another person. As God-girls, when we yearn to follow the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength submission won’t feel like a dirty word.
Expected to obey: After the Fall, man was given the role as leader. It became the woman's job to be obedient and comply (Genesis 3:16b). Submission and obedience are God’s ideal.
Based on what you learned in this post, revisit the expectations in marriage worksheet and indicate if the expectations were realistic or not.
Okay, so now you have a list of the biblical expectations of a husband; you also know the expectations of a wife. But how does that help you deal with the unmet expectations in your marriage? I’ll tell you: knowing what the Bible says about marriage helps us to form more realistic and reasonable marriage expectations.
As we spend time submitting to God, we come in contact with Someone who is able to change us from the inside out. God can take away our selfish desires and replace them with His perfect will.
“What are you saying, Ami? How do I deal with the unmet expectations in my marriage?” I’m glad you asked. The best way I’ve found to deal with the unmet expectations in my marriage is to run them through the filter of God’s words.
Nine times out of ten I’m expecting my husband to fulfill a need that is way outside his abilities. I mean, come on, he’s not going to be able to read my mind no matter how much I want him to. (On a side note, can you imagine how awkward it would be if our husbands could actually read our minds? It means they would know every thought we have in their presence. Eep! Maybe we don’t want that after all.)
My suggestion would be that you spend some time studying what the Bible says about the union between a man and his wife. When we know what God expects, we have more realistic expectations for marriage. And that my friend, is the best way to deal with unmet expectations in marriage.
Through God's Eyes: Marriage Lessons for Women is an in-depth Bible study about a wife's role. Learn how to be the partner God intended you to be.
What do you think is the best way to deal with unmet expectations in marriage? Share them in the comments below.