My expectations of how much our marriage should fulfill me were way off.
I’m not sure how it started. It must have been a slow build—a combination of little resentments I let take root and watered frequently, mixed with too much time daydreaming about what was missing from my life.
I was an emotional wreck, and I couldn’t even see how far gone I was. A couple of specific moments one week gave me clarity. “Why are you always grumpy, Mom?” my almost 3-year- old son innocently asked me one day.
“Huh,” I thought. “Why would he say that? I’m not always grumpy!” And then when my husband asked me why I never seemed happy to see him a few evenings later on the way home from work, I recoiled bitterly.
Later on, after cooling down, I realized my reaction perhaps proved a point, and that I was indeed not very content or emotionally healthy.
As I did some digging and probing into my emotions, I realized I was very unhappy. And a huge part of that journey of self-discovery led me to all the ways I felt let down by my marriage. As I alternately uncovered my feelings or sat stewing in them, the Holy Spirit (the King of repairing relationships) gently guided me towards the truth through wise authors and people in my life.
My husband is not perfect and had let me down in various ways throughout our marriage. But I had made an idol of marriage and my expectations of him. My expectations of how much our marriage should fulfill me were way off. Not to mention that I was completely ignoring all of the ways I had hurt him and failed to love him well over the years. It helped me immensely to take stock of what my expectations were. In that vein, here are some questions that helped me reflect.
Am I expecting someone who keeps me engaged and entertained?
We can enjoy a shared interest together, laugh together, and watch a movie together. But, when I assume that he should be willing to enjoy the same things I enjoy whenever we have time together, I’m just pandering to my own selfishness.
Am I expecting someone who gives 100% of the time?
A quick reflection on my day always dispels this one pretty quickly—as I never give 100% all the time (or even half the time) in how I love my husband. But, it’s crazy how often I assume he should be the one giving until it hurts, while I should just sit and receive.
Am I expecting a yes man/woman who will always tell me what I want to hear and affirm that my way is the best way to handle situations?
All of my desire to control situations and people come out when I think about this question. My way is always the best way, of course—until I can check my pride enough to realize how crazy that assumption is (and all the steps I take because of that assumption).
Am I expecting someone to provide me with all the emotional support I need?
A quick reminder, one person can’t do this. My husband will never be able to support me during pregnancy the way my closest mom friends can. He won’t be able to encourage me as my sisters can. And that’s good. Likewise, I know I can’t engage with him on his favorite topics of conversation, so I need to give him the time and space to find people who are passionate about the same things.
At the end of all of this reflection and realization, I was able to admit to myself that I was looking for way too much from both my husband and my marriage, while avoiding the hard work of loving and sacrificing—the very things I was expecting of my spouse. Once I focused on what I could and should do in our marriage (squashing bitterness, forgiving, treating him with love and concern, etc.), our relationship, and my disposition, improved a hundredfold.
Thank you, Holy Spirit!