“What if I marry someone, then I meet somebody prettier or funnier? What if they don’t fulfill me? I’m afraid I’ll become unsatisfied or discontented.”
“My husband doesn’t meet my needs. You see, I need romance and affection, and my husband just isn’t very affectionate. I need someone who can give me this.”
What’s wrong with these statements? What’s wrong is that each of these individuals has expectations that their marriage partner or future marriage partner should always and continually fulfill them.
Tim Keller, in his book The Meaning of Marriage (which I highly recommend) says,
Both men and women today see marriage not as a way of creating character and community but as a way to reach personal life goals. They are all looking for a marriage partner who will ‘fulfill their emotional, sexual, and spiritual desires.’ And that creates an extreme idealism that in turn leads to deep pessimism that you will ever find the right person to marry. This is the reason so many put off marriage and look right past great prospective spouses that simply are ‘not good enough.’
Let me repeat one phrase: “They are all looking for a marriage partner who will ‘fulfill their emotional, sexual, and spiritual desires.’”
When we have an expectation that a husband or wife fulfill us, we set ourselves up for disappointment, because no human being can satisfy another human being. To hope that another human can meet our needs is asking too much of anyone. For only Jesus can meet our needs. Only Jesus can satisfy us. Only Jesus can fulfill all our desires.
Expectations are killers.
If you come into a marriage with expectations of the other person, and then they don’t meet those expectations, you will be frustrated and unhappy. Expectations are dangerous and will always disappoint. Unless you have expectations like these – I expect:
- That my spouse will fail in many ways.
- That my spouse will not fulfill my desires.
- That my spouse will not always try to please me.
- That my spouse may not always understand me.
- That my spouse may not always appreciate me.
- That my spouse may not love me in the way I would want.
If your spouse happens to actually appreciate, love or serve you, then praise God! It will be unexpected. The problem comes when we have expectations and then they aren’t met. Here are a few expectations you can cultivate though – of yourself:
- That I should serve my spouse and lay down my life for her/him.
- That I should seek to please my spouse.
- That I should try to listen to and understand my spouse.
- That I should seek to lay down my life for my spouse.
- That I should seek to fulfill his/her desires as best I can.
- That I should seek to love my spouse.
Here’s my suggestion: Don’t look at where your spouse needs to change. Look to where you need to change. Don’t have expectations of your spouse. If you have expectations, place them on yourself.
If anyone has the right to have expectations of us it is Jesus. Ask him what he would like you to do to please your spouse. Ask him to help you and make you the biggest most cheerful servant in the house and not to worry about if anyone is serving you or not.