Unmet Expectations

A new lesson I’ve been trying to impart to my crew is how unmet expectations, and unreasonably high expectations, can really put a strain on relationships. This is true for any relationship – be it spouses, parent-child, siblings, friends, co-workers. Unmet expectations can place a burden on a relationship that sometimes, the relationship cannot even bear, which in turn, suffocates the relationship altogether.

I’ll give you a recent example from events that actually happened.

“Let’s have tostadas for dinner,” My dear husband said aloud. I immediately assumed that he was volunteering to either make dinner, or at least pitch in to help make dinner. Time ticked by. It became apparent that the words he should have used were, “Will you please make tostadas for dinner?”

I have a couple of choices at this moment. Now mind you, I’m tired by the time we reach the evening. Not to take away from or compete with his tired or anything. But we are both there – pretty well done for the day, with a couple hours until bedtime. And God knows I love this man He gave me, but when he comes home from work, his tired means he is getting down to his underwear and watching TV.

Now, if I ask for help, I can usually get it. But I have that woman/mom thing where I don’t feel like I should have to ask for help. Another post, another day. Or is it? Are these unmet expectations, rising up with a chokehold on our relationship?

Back to the tostadas. I can accept that he wants tostadas for dinner, and I can make them. With a cheerful heart, aware of all I’ve been blessed with, and the very fact that I have a husband to cook dinner for. Or I can throw in the towel, dollop some pb&j on some bread, pass it out to the kids, and cross my arms in silent, rebellious satisfaction. If he isn’t going to help, then he isn’t going to eat what he wants.

Say I go with options #2 – pb&j, and maybe my snarky self brings him one, too. With water, ha! Now, what do we have here?

We have mom frustrated by the expectation that the original question seemed like a team effort dinner but wasn’t, and dad frustrated that he thought he was going to get tostadas, now faced with pb&j. Who is more right to be frustrated by their unmet expectations? Both? One or the other? Neither?

I think it’s neither. I mean, I guess we have the right to live in this cycle. But do we want to? Why would we want to?

So, is it always or only up to me to be the bigger person, make the tostadas, and smile about it? No, I dare say not. And I can’t pick my sleeping husband’s brain about the times he feels that rise of unfairness and fights back by being kind and going the extra mile, mainly because he’s sleeping as I write this. Maybe I should write up a few questions for him to answer so I can have a husband Q&A. Add your questions at the bottom and I’ll try to put him on the spot this weekend.

Back to the tostadas.

I can do this with a good attitude, and sit down to enjoy tostadas with my family (which were delicious, by the way). Or I can have a bad attitude and make the tostadas, or not. I’m still missing out because of my attitude.

Sometimes we don’t see the expectation ahead of us, so much as in the middle of frustration we see, “you didn’t do this like I thought you would/asked you to/needed you to.” We have to train ourselves to stop, identify what we were expecting, and how we can make the best of the situation. I think this is always most effective by inviting Jesus to soften our hearts and teach us in the moment.

Sometimes we are right to speak up and address the issue with the other person. Sometimes we are right to address within ourselves the expectation, how/why it wasn’t met, and move forward. I didn’t go to my husband and complain that he didn’t make tostadas with me. Not every unmet expectation is because the other person did something wrong. Sometimes it’s because we expected something that was never implied or intended. Sometimes it’s because we expected something because of our past, because of something we misunderstood. I can’t even begin to think of all the ways we come up with expectations, but I know what it feels like to feel let down.

We don’t have to wallow in those feelings. Ask Jesus in, identify what to address with the other person, identify what you can correct just by changing your thinking on the matter, and keep moving forward in your relationships.

(Don’t forget to add your questions at the bottom for a fun little hubby Q&A!)

Until next time,

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A Prayer to Share:

Dear God,
You see the expectations I’m building in my heart and mind. Help me weed through unnecessary expectations – whether they are too high or too many. Help me to be at peace with the people around me, accepting of who they are, and able to enjoy the relationships I have. Help me to forgive those who have let me down.

Where there have been expectations on me that I have not met, help the other person to be at peace, to forgive me. Mend those relationships as you see fit, Father.

Help me to stay focused on becoming more like Jesus day in and day out.

In Jesus’ Name,
Amen

What Marriage Really Is

I love to read marriage stuff when I’m scrolling online – all of it. The fairy tale, marriage is bliss stuff, the marriage is 50/50, marriage is 100/100, it’s tough, it takes patience, when it’s right you know… I just love to read it. Some of it I resonate with, some I shrug at the ridiculousness of. A lot of it, I see how much our culture has gotten away from the biblical perspective of marriage and how people have stopped inviting God into their lives, which inevitably makes me sad.

My favorites to read are the “real” posts about how marriage isn’t about waking up next to Prince charming aka your best friend every day. It’s grittier than that.

For me, marriage is waking up next to the person I’ve built the most with. We’re building children. We built a business. We are building a life.

Marriage is going to bed next to the person I’ve lost the most with. Jobs, a business we built, kids getting sick, even walking through a suicide attempt by one of our sons.

It’s sitting in the hospital together when one of us is ill, or when one of the kids is ill. It’s staring at test results and listening to doctors speak and trying to piece together what it all means exactly. It’s going in for an MRI, only to learn that something is different about my brain, and that it comes with complications, and knowing that I don’t face it alone. That God gave me a companion to endure the hard things with. coffee for two

Sometimes it’s the comfort of knowing that whatever life throws my way, I’m not alone. But sometimes it’s not that rosy, it’s arguing because we don’t agree how to do something major (parenting, finances, farming) and sometimes it’s wondering if he has the grit to stay. Sometimes it’s wondering if I have the grit to stay. Because it is hard to do life with someone so different from myself, but I wouldn’t really want someone the same as me. Someone different than me challenges me to think differently, to see differently, to accept that I don’t know the ONLY right way to do just about anything. There are a lot of ways to arrive at the desired result.

It’s praying, on repeat, for someone else to see something, change something, or grow. Then finally humbling myself to the voice of God and focusing on who I am becoming and letting Him focus on who my husband is becoming…and experiencing more growth together in the season that followed that moment than I even knew possible.

Marriage is seeing someone else’s sin and shame and deciding that I’ve been forgiven for too much to hold unforgiveness in my heart. It’s deciding to let go in the middle of being hurt so that we don’t heap offenses on offenses and dig wounds too deep to heal.

Marriage is sitting in a counselor’s office to ask someone else to show you how to communicate in the middle of a mess and brokenness. It’s walking in thinking your spouse sure has a thing or two to learn and walking out schooled. It’s learning to not act like a fool and put your foot in your mouth on the rare occasion that your spouse is the one schooled.

Marriage is reaching over to hold his hand because everything in life just got dumped on its head again and we have to find our new normal once more. But we don’t have to do it alone.love

Marriage is learning, sometimes gracefully, sometimes through wrestling, sometimes after stubborn refusal to yield, that we both have grit, we both have each other in mind, and we are going to face this life together. It’s learning that muddy shoes, or pants on the floor, or funny squeezed toothpaste tubes are not the end of the world. That preferences are like opinions and we all have them, and sometimes it’s my preference and sometimes it’s his preference.

Marriage is having someone to celebrate each victory with – because no one else truly sees or knows how hard that victory was fought for. Sure, our friends know, our parents or siblings know. But no one sees the in and out, day-to-day, like our spouse does. Maybe the kids, but after they’ve grown up and gone on to their own lives, it will be just us. And whiles kids see so much, they also miss so much. Marriage is about seeing past the nights we share our bed with a toddler, or hardly see each other for a second because all the kids have somewhere different to be, and seeing that when it all quiets, we’ll have each other. It’s about knowing that I don’t want to be in a house with a stranger when that all happens, so I better ask questions now, put forth effort now, no matter how tired I might feel like I am.

It’s permission to be too tired, too. It’s a peck on the cheek and an embrace and collapsing onto the pillow to sleep, with no hard feelings. It’s watching him undress after work and collapse in a heap and knowing that tomorrow there will be a shared moment in the morning, but for tonight, I will let him rest. It’s looking out for what is best for him, but not being forgotten in the mix.

Marriage is complex, sometimes complicated, and certainly worth it. My husband is my best friend, my sincerest companion. He is tender with me, but not afraid to tell it to me straight when I need a dose of truth. He is fun and he is funny and he makes me laugh. He makes sure I don’t take myself, my condition, or this life too seriously.

My husband is a gift from God himself, and I thank God for uniting us. For crossing our paths, and for connecting us. (And sometimes I ask God why on earth, too.) It’s not all good. And it’s not all bad. But there is a sweetness to walking through good and bad, thick and thin, sickness and health, with the same person, developing trust and relationship and confidence to withstand the next storm, to exclaim victory from the mountaintop, and to survive the sometimes mundane days of our lives.

Until next time,
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How Loving Your Wife Could Change the World

(Today’s post is a guest post, beautifully written by Jason Bender. You can learn more about him at the end of the post, follow him on Twitter, and visit his blog, too! Enjoy!)

As a husband, I know I’m supposed to love my wife. However, frankly, a lot of times I just forget.

Why is that? How could easily the single most obvious thing for a husband to be doing slip from my mind?

I think it’s because, as husbands, we don’t really understand the importance of loving well. We buy into this “happy wife, happy life,” and think that’s the end of it. We make the goal of our marriage simply out to be survival, to be at least average, or if we’re really compelled, even better than average.

Certainly, I’m not knocking on committing to stay together. But is it possible that this goal is rather short-sighted?

The problem arises where we forget to love well, because at times it doesn’t seem we don’t need to. When we’ve made the goal of our marriage surviving, or being “average,” our point of reference just becomes everyone else’s marriage. And as long as I’m doing at least as well, then we’re cool – we’re just fine. There’s no urgency to love well.

So let’s look again at what Paul really says to us husbands in Ephesians 5:25,

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

This verse is so important because it challenges us that not only are husbands to learn from Christ’s love, but they are also supposed to demonstrate Christ’s love to an un-believing world. In a sense as husbands, we receive the lead role in this movie called life, and we’re called to play the part of Christ.

Therefore, not only do I learn how to play the part by watching Christ, but when others watch me live
out that role – they learn about Christ from me.

Which begs the question, “What do they learn about Christ from me?”

Understanding that our love could have an eternal impact on someone else’s life puts the urgency back for husbands to love well. There is more at stake for me to love well than just my own marriage.
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IMG_0931Jason Bender is the author of the blog, “A Year of Being a Better Husband,” which features short, daily posts about his own journey of becoming the husband that God desires.
He lives with his wife in Pittsburgh, where he is a graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh, and a volunteer worship leader for Crossroads UMC’s East Liberty Campus.
You can check out his blog here, or follow him on Twitter @JBend8