Aaron and I will be celebrating our fourth anniversary this May, and I believe my love for him has grown twice as much in the last six months as it did in the previous 3 1/2 years. How could it possibly have flourished so significantly in such a short time? It is because God has been teaching me two huge important lessons…let go of the unrealistic expectations and focus on the positives.
It must be a feminine trait connected with our emotional inclinations for love and romance that would incline me as a woman to expect that my husband should surprise me with occasional gifting of flowers, mushy cards, arranging surprise special dates and outings. I desperately wanted him to demonstrate love to me in this practical way. I just wanted him to know what I wanted without even communicating my desires. Have you ever had those moments when he asked you what you wanted to do and you did not respond? You just wanted him to know? How silly of me to expect him to know my every whim and fancy. He is a man. He thinks differently than a woman. I was holding unrealistic expectations over his head that he ought to be creative, only to be disappointed.
Expectations creeped in for him to play his part around the house, to take out the garbage for me, or help with the dishes occasionally. I was focusing on all that I was contributing without considering all the laborious hours of work that he was offering up on my behalf that we might be well provided for. There was a deeper issue in my heart that the Lord had to weed out. I was so desirous of this practical service that I became bitter towards my husband time and time again. It was becoming idolatrous. Ultimately, deep down I wanted him to be consumed with me and my needs. I would hold these little oversights in my heart until they would come out like a floodgate of tears and frustration. I was focusing on the shortcomings.
Did I ever take thought to his needs? He had to do one thing for 8 hours in the day, while I was able to chose a variety of activities to do around my home. Have I ever been thankful for that?
In preparation for my birthday this past year, I originally hoped he would plan this wonderful surprise outing for me. But God began to show me my foolish expectations. Instead, I simply shared what I would enjoy doing for the day. I delight in exploring new places, walking, and enjoying the blessings of nature. I wanted to take the day and enjoy downtown Portland. Walking around, having coffee, touring used book stores, and enjoying a local new restaurant was my ideal. My birthday ended up being one of the best days of my life. Why? Because we were together, enjoying life. I let go of the expectations.
Over these last six months, thanks in part to Revive Our Hearts 30 Day Husband Encouragement Challenge, I have learned and continue to grow in my appreciation for the way God designed my man to be. My husband is amazingly steady, devoted to providing for our family, and that is the way that he naturally shows love to me. I know without a shadow of a doubt that he would rather die that stop providing for me. He is so devoted and loyal. He loves the Lord and delights to serve His church.
Once I started to change my focus away from his shortcomings, I began to see more and more of the beautiful gifts he has. I started praising him more for those qualities. I started cheering him on. When he did take out the trash without my nagging, I would give him a big huge and express my love and appreciation. I learned that even if I had to pick up after him occasionally, this was a way that I was being his helper. God fashioned and designed me for my man and he needs me. Yes, he can pick up after himself, but this is not worth holding over him. I changed my focus to see this as an opportunity to serve and help my husband.
What has been the result? Focusing on the good qualities has caused our love to blossom. Not only that, but my husband started taking more initiative. Just this past week, he totally surprised me with a beautiful boutique of flowers! He started serving me in so many practical ways around house, and caring for the children. It has been so awesome! When I thank him and praise him more for these actions, our love continues to grow.
This is our story…your story will likely look different…but might there be some unrealistic expectations that you are harboring?
We cannot change our man, but we can influence him for the better. We can take the plank out of our own eye first, and then, by God’s grace and wisdom, we will be able to see and help assist removing the plank in our husband’s eye. (Matthew 7:1-5). Many times we will see that it is only a small stone that may in fact vanish when we focus first on our own hearts and actions.
In a nutshell…
- Keep your trust first and foremost in the Lord.
- Communication is key.
- Don’t harbor bitter thoughts. See them for what they really are. Idols!
- Write out your expectations. Lay them out before the Lord. Some expectations are certainly biblical (that he is to be faithful, provide, etc), while others (as witnessed above) are not. Prayerfully evaluate them.
- Start praying for your man. Pray that He might grow into the man God would have him be, and not the way you would have him be.
- Communicate with your husband. Share your desires and leave it at that. Let the Lord work in his heart.
- Focus on his quality character traits. Take 30 days and each day try to express vocally one thing you admire about your husband to him and others.
- True joy comes in the service of others, especially your husband. (Matthew 23:11)
Get behind your man, dear sisters. He needs you! He is so much more productive when you get behind him, trust him, and believe in him. But ultimately, keep your trust in the Lord first and foremost, as the holy women of old…
“This is how the holy women of old made themselves beautiful. They trusted in God and accepted the authority of their husbands. For instance, Sarah obeyed her husband, Abraham, and called him her master. You are her daughters when you do what is right without fear of what your husbands might do.” (1 Peter 3:5-6).
Praying for Your Man – 31 Days of Prayer – a free helpful tool for praying for your husband.
30 Day Husband Encouragement Challenge - take the challenge! It’s worth it. God can transform your marriage too!
NOTE: My husband has reviewed and approved this post.