Unmet Expectations

In my last post I mentioned 4 possible reasons for the high divorce rate. The first reason is because of unmet expectations.

Sometimes both men and women can have a predetermined expectation of what a perfect spouse should be like. And this expectation is carried with him or her for several years into a marriage. The problem with such expectations is that the starting point assumes the impossible: that there is such a thing as a “perfect spouse.” As I stated in my last post, we are all flawed.

An expectation that men may have that can lead to severe disappointments is the expectation of having a woman who will “take care of me,” “clean for me,” “cook for me” and “wash for me.” Well, that sounds like a maid not a wife! Wives are to be helpers of their husbands, yes, but that does not mean that a husband “lords it over” his wife. The husband should lead in a way that glorifies Christ. That means we lead by serving. Husbands need to remember that we “leave and cleave,” as the bible describes in Genesis. We do no inherit another mother but a helper who is our equal. As husbands, we have the responsibility of leading as Christ leads us.

Wives are not immune to having unrealistic expectations either. I have heard women on occasion say that they wished their husband would be romantic all the time. Not to say that a husband should not occasionally and surprisingly keep romance in the marriage, but to expect this on a daily basis is what Hollywood sells not real life. Job requirements, school and children activities can be very exhausting. Romance in the mist of this chaos can look different than unrealistic expectations. Cooking a meal, cleaning up the kitchen or helping to fold the laundry should be just as sexy as a two night stay at a bed-and-breakfast. Now this may not pack the same punch as a spontaneous vacation getaway for two or flowers sent to you just because, however expecting such actions to be a true test of love in marriage is a recipe for disappointment and failure.

A better test of true love in a marriage is how the husband treats the wife daily. A good litmus test for this is Ephesians 5 and 1 Corinthians 13. Using a “romantic” meter to measure true love is flawed because it uses a worldly “how I feel standard” to measure a husband’s (or wife for that matter) worth. Yes, I understand the emotional side of women wanting to have things done that will stir up their emotions. However, Hollywood is not reality. There’s nothing wrong with flowers sent to the office or home or a surprise as spontaneous “let’s go out to dinner night.” But when did just serving each other on a day-to-day basis not become enough? When did providing for your family and treating your wife as Christ would the church not become enough?

Now husbands, before we become puffed up, let us be reminded that in our eyes we may have done “enough,” but for our wives it may be the opposite. We can very easily get stuck in the “provider role” and neglect caring and romancing. I’m not suggesting that one should be done at the expense of the other. What I am suggesting is that in order for a marriage to be successful, in order for two to stay “won” we must listen to our spouses desires and love language as well.

On my next post I’ll discuss the second reason that can be the cause of a divorce: Not counting the cost.

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