How Expectations Can Sink a Relationship

How Expectations Can Sink a Relationship

 

Too often, our relationships sink under the weight of our expectations. We could spend hours talking about why this is the case, but really there’s a simple explanation: There is only one who can love us the way we are created to be loved.

“I have loved you with an everlasting love.” – Jeremiah 31:3

No other love can reach the standard of God’s love. When we tie up our worth in the measure of anyone else’s love, we are selling ourselves short. Not only that, but we are putting a lot of pressure on someone who has no way of living up to who we need them to be.

Let’s talk about the things scripture does not say:

  • “Your spouse will rescue you.”
  • “Your parents will always protect you.”
  • “Your best friend will never leave nor forsake you.”
  • “Your children will carry your burdens.”

The majority of fights in my marriage have stemmed from the unrealistic expectations my husband and I have put on each other. Neither of us entered our relationship believing it would be perfect or that we wouldn’t fight, but there were so many times we couldn’t figure out why we were fighting. After our daughter was born, we went through a period of time where we just didn’t like each other.

One night as we were sitting on our couch, we both agreed to be completely honest about the root of the problem. As it turns out, we said the exact same thing to each other: I just thought you were going to be there for me.

While I had been going through postpartum depression and struggling to balance my new role as a full-time working mom, wife, and friend, I had expected him to understand the emotions and stress I was feeling. While he had been picking up extra jobs on the side and trying to provide for our growing family, he had expected me to see his motives and appreciate the effort he was putting in.

There are many things we could have done differently during that time (and plan to do differently when our baby boy arrives in a few weeks), but the truth is that we are going to let each other down sometimes. My husband is one of the strongest people I know, but it’s not fair for me to ask him to carry all of my burdens.

That night, it’s like we wrote a love letter to God. We took all of the things we had been saying to each other and, together, we started saying them to Him:

“God, I know that You will never let me down or leave me. You are my refuge and Your faithfulness is my shield. You will be with me in my trouble and You will deliver and honor me. You will take my burdens and give me rest. You, God, will heal my broken heart.”

Don’t sink your relationships by hoping that someone else’s love is going to save, cleanse, deliver, redeem, justify, and fight for you, but don’t sell yourself short by thinking you don’t deserve a love that will. Just take those expectations and place them on the One who was meant to carry them.

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.” – Ephesians 2:4-5

I Am Not His First Love

I Am Not His First Love

When I was younger, I wanted a love like the movies. I wanted someone to tell me they loved me more than anything. I wanted to be the thing they loved the most. After being in relationships where that was the case, it terrified me to look for a husband who loved Jesus more. What if that didn’t leave enough love for me?

I even had my Christian loophole ready: If marriage represents Christ’s love for the Church, what could He have loved more than the Church?

Christ’s love for the church was the most selfless love imaginable; whereas, my desire to be loved “the most” was a selfish need for security. You have jealousy, not love, if your need to be loved interferes with your spouse’s love for God, rather than enhancing it.

My husband loves me, but he loves Jesus more. And there is so much more security in that. People fall in and out of love with each other all of the time, because we are always changing. If my husband listed out the reasons he fell in love with me, I could probably pick out several things that aren’t true anymore. If you ask people why they get divorced, most of them will tell you, “We just weren’t in love anymore.”

My husband and I don’t stay in marriage because we love each other—even though we do—but because we both love Jesus. Jesus is the rock of our marriage, and He doesn’t change. My security in my marriage doesn’t come from my husband loving me the most, but from my husband loving Jesus the most, because Jesus will never let him down. Our love may change, but His never does.

When we focus on how much Jesus loves us, rather than how much our spouse loves us, it equips us to love better. My love for my husband isn’t based on his behavior, or his abilities, or his looks—it comes from an overflow of the love that covers me daily. And even more importantly, my expectations of being loved don’t fall on him, either. I’m loved more than anything by my Savior. He knows all of my flaws, all of my deepest, darkest thoughts, and He still loves me more than my husband could even begin to.

Marriage is a covenant that reflects the one God made with His church. Your marriage should reflect God’s love, not replace it. So if you are feeling unloved or unloving, try taking a step back and re-focusing your attention on Jesus. Don’t look for a love like the movies; look for a love like the cross.

God’s Promises

God’s Promises

When I graduated from college, I was in a relationship with someone I greatly cared for. He had stood by me as a friend and boyfriend for three years as I tried to work my way through a sudden loss of stability. My parents had divorced, my childhood home was being sold, my church had split down the middle and the sense of displacement was staggering at times. However, the boy I loved didn’t believe in the God I was longing for. He would go to church with me and he would sit quietly while I prayed, but he didn’t know how to help me find the peace I was searching for.

The first promise I remember God giving me was a few months after I graduated. I knew I needed to end my relationship, but I was terrified of losing the one constant in my life. I was sitting in church, praying about the first thing God asked me to do that I didn’t want to do. Immediately, Matthew 19:29 came to me, “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much.”

For anyone who has met my husband – let’s talk about how God keeps His promises. Matt wakes up with the Gospel on the tip of his tongue and He loves me in a way that can only come from loving Jesus more. His faithfulness in constantly and patiently pointing me toward Jesus has helped me find a new stability that isn’t dependent on anyone else. The Word of God is living and active and it will not return void.

A few months after Matt and I were married, I started having terrible pain in my lower abdomen. After months of pain and multiple infections, we found out I had endometriosis. The doctors told us that it was likely we would have a difficult time having children in the future and that, due to the type and condition of the disorder, I wouldn’t be able to have children at all without first having surgery. Following the surgery, Matt and I tried for months with no results. As we were beginning to hit a low and wonder if it was going to happen for us, our entire family was dealt a blow when Matt’s dad, Jack, passed away unexpectedly.

Many people don’t get along with their in-laws – I’ve heard both the jokes and the horror stories – but Matt’s parents are my parents. They loved me as their own daughter before Matt even gave me his ring and I love each of them dearly. While all of us know that Jack is rejoicing and worshiping his Savior with his arms wide, the pain has been great.

Matt and I both struggled with the realization that our kids would not get to meet their Papa. The thought still brings tears to my eyes; however, the Thursday after his funeral, Matt and I attended a church service. A few minutes into the church service, God sweetly whispered His second promise – we would have our precious miracle. I won’t lie, I didn’t immediately recognize it for what it was. It wasn’t until an hour later, when the pastor prayed directly over our family and said, “How good you are to us, Lord – from death you always bring life” that I knew the promise God had made me. I cried as we continued to pray and from that morning on, I woke up every morning saying, “Thank you, God, for this baby. Thank you that you love us so much.”

Four weeks to the day that Jack died, I took my first positive pregnancy test.

It is so beautiful to me that God – the Mighty One who saves and who commands the wind and the waves – knows each of us so well, in such a tender and intimate way, that He can simply reach out and breathe a promise of His love directly into our hearts.