By Amanda Idleman, Crosswalk.com
Unfulfilled expectations in relationships create conflict and disappointment. Not sharing what we hope for from our husbands and sometimes entertaining the lie that says “if he really loved me, he would do blank” can eat away at the happiness that God desires our marriages to bring to our lives.
Sometimes, though, even if we communicate our expectations, they may still be too high. Let’s think through a few ways we can modify our expectations in order to experience more satisfaction in our married lives!
1. Don’t Put Your Husband in the Place of God
Many of us may not even realize that we have put improper emotional expectations on our spouses. Honestly, there is a fine line between desiring emotional intimacy with your spouse and improperly looking to your spouse to fulfilall your emotional needs.
It’s easy to justify complaints that say, “He just doesn’t open up enough” or “He wasn’t there when I needed him” because a part of healthy married life is leaning on each other when we face tough times.
Yet, when we place all our hope in our spouse to “be there” when we need them, rather than first seeking God to help us through those moments, we start putting our husbands in a place that God desires to fulfill.
Matthew 6:33 tells us to seek God and His Kingdom first-- yet so often we go to God last. What does first seeking God for our emotional fulfillment look like?
Constant prayer is an integral part of what it looks like to see God first in our marriage. Philippians 4:6-7 gives us a model for how to avoid letting stress push us to the point that we feel anxious and start putting too much pressure on our relationship to relieve the pressure of life. Paul tells us not to worry because we can PRAY instead. He had such faith! He knew that no situation was too big for God to handle.
If we stop and invite God into the moments we feel defeated, we can immediately experience God’s peace. Then when we next share our emotions with our spouses, we can do so peacefully because we’ve unloaded our anxiety to our God who is actually big enough to handle it.
The second key to avoiding putting our husbands in the place of God is giving thanks rather than offering constant complaints.
The passage in Philippians tells us to go to God with thankful hearts.The Bible gives this simple advice because God understands human nature so very well. He knows that our thoughts dictate our feelings and consequently our actions. When we force ourselves to be thankful then we push out the disappointment of unfulfilled expectations. Meditating on the good minimizes the bad, and leads to peace in our minds and homes.
2. Be Realistic about Your Financial Expectations
Today’s world has changed from the past in many ways for both good and bad. In generations past, single income families were commonplace. Employers counted on paying (mostly men) a wage that would be enough to meet the needs of the entire family.
In today’s world dual incomes are nearly always necessary to financially meet the needs of a family. Thankfully, this means that the women of the world have opportunities, voices, and the chance to use their gifts in ways never imagined in the past.
The downside is we can no longer look to our husbands as the traditional “primary breadwinner” of the home. Couples are in financially in this together!
If your family has decided to make a go of it on one income or maybe an income and a half, then there is a good chance sacrifice will be required! Shopping without budgeting, vacations without planning, and Christmas without limits may not be a realistic financial expectation for your family.
Just because a new iPhone is out doesn’t mean it is in the cards for you to afford it.
Financial frustrations are one of the top reasons couples argue. This just verifies that we are not talking enough about what our financial expectations are for our homes.
We need to be honest about the things we hope for, want, need, and also what we actually can afford. We need to set mutual goals and limits when it comes to our money. If those kinds of conversations feel overwhelming for the two of you to have alone then absolutely enlist the help of a financial counselor that can talk you through the in’s and outs of managing your finances together.
Some other great tools to help you stay on the same page are budgeting apps for your phone where you can each log what you are spending so the other is in the loop, cash envelopes, or taking a financial management class together.
Setting a time to have a monthly budget meeting is a great way to stay connected on where you stand money wise. Talking through long term goals, short-term goals, and any other immediate financial needs or wants should be a part of your budgeting meeting along with discussing the planned flow of cash in and out.
3. Be Open and Realistic about What Household Chores You Both Are Expected to Complete
Alright ladies, let’s be brutally honest: how many times have you rolled your eyes, complained to a girlfriend, or just walked around your house plain grumpy because in your mind your hubby is just not helping our enough or in the right ways.
I am so guilty! Most of us ladies are convinced that we are the only ones that can take care of things right. Let me clear the air--we are wrong! Not only that, this is one of the easiest traps the enemy pulls us in to get us in a cycle of exasperation with our mates.
The first common issue married couples face is that us women are not clearly and honestly articulating what we need our spouses to do in order to carry their part of the load in our homes.
I am sure there are some men out there that naturally think about cooking, cleaning, and childcare needs but, the statistics show that in most homes, no matter who is working and who is home, women still generally take care of most of the household care to-do list items. If that is true then there is a good chance your expectations for what your husband should be helping with are not being met!
If we don’t want to have to keep walking around with a “I-do-so-much-more-than-you” chip on our shoulders, then we first have to start kindly asking our husbands to help. When we don’t share expectations, that’s when we begin to get hurt. Our minds tell us “they don’t care” or “they are so lazy” but the reality is they don’t know what you want!
The next issue that many of us deal with is that we just need to take a chill pill. I am also so very, very guilty of needing this! When it comes to our home my list of things I need to get done literally never ends. Even when I’m snuggled in bed my mind is strategizing on how to best tackle breakfast, then after the breakfast dishes, and how to tidy up the toys before we get out the door. I need to chill.
Our homes are supposed to be a place of comfort, rest, and warmth! We should feel like we can let our hair down, leave a few socks on the floor, and clean the dishes when we get to it.
Many of us have become obsessed with Pinterest-perfect homes. This expectation puts a lot of pressure on your spouse to either keep up very high standards of cleaning or give up a lot of time together so you have the time you need to keep everything perfect. I’m all about being responsible, tidy, and hard-working but we need to adjust our expectations to match the demands of your life together.
For example, if you have young children then your priority will have to be safe happy kids over a perfectly clean home. If you are homeschooling there will be much of the day that your home will be covered with projects, books, toys, craft supplies, and more!
If you both work full-time jobs, then household chores may just have to wait till the weekend because weeknights are needed get filled with activities and for family-time.
One helpful tip is to set aside a time either daily or weekly for everyone to spend an allotted amount of time on cleaning. After that move onto other activities and don’t let your home be a source of stress for your family!
4. Be Willing to Adjust Your Expectations about When and How You Connect
Time is in short supply these days. We feel pressed on all sides to satisfy our commitments and connect enough with those we love. As the seasons of life come and go, our ability to invest large sums of time just being together ebb and flow. Generally speaking, at the start of love, time is freely poured into your relationship. Over the years new demands arise and consequently when we expect out of our marriages must adjust.
No matter what, connection should be prioritized. The what’s and how’s of how you accomplish that goal may have to change based on what’s going on in your lives together. Often times our circumstances change and our expectations remain static. Disappointment is almost always the end result.
How do we adjust our expectations to match our season? First, we communicate the times that we feel are most important to be together with our spouses. Strategize together on workarounds you can try to protect those sacred moments. For example, if Friday night date night is your lifeline then you both should commit to keeping it on the calendar--but if work calls and demands that time slot then look together for a new opening to replace this scheduled time for each other.
If your husband knows you rely on certain check-ins to remain connected then, you both can be diligent about protecting those spaces. That way when something comes up you both can be disappointed together and work together to find a way to make it up. Each phase of life has different time constraints and through them all we have to commit to saying what we need for our marriages to stay connected.
We all have expectations for each other. It’s so very easy to let our expectations get out of sync with what is reasonable for each other. We have to keep the lines of communication open, so resentment has no room to eat away at the foundation of our marriages.
Amanda Idleman is a wife, homeschooling Momma to three amazing kids and is passionate about encouraging others to live joyfully. Amanda also loves to write as a freelance writer and on her blog (when she finds a spare moment for it!) You can find out more about Amanda at her blog rvahouseofjoy.wordpress.comor follow her on Instagram at rvahouseofjoy.