When your spouse fails to meet your expectations, you begin to question if you married the wrong person.
Many people claim that is the problem with their marriage. If they could go back and press rewind, if they knew back then what they know now, they would have made different decisions. Due to rising conflict in marriages, people just think that the problem is the person.
The problem is definitely related to people (including yourself). It might not be that you married the wrong person, but that each of you haven’t been made right yet.
Do you believe there is that one special person for you?
- Fairy tales taught us that princes and princesses are destined to be together.
- Entertainment taught us that there was that one special person out there for each of us.
- The church taught us that God’s will was wrapped up in that one person designed for us.
So, if all that is the case, why are so many married people disappointed?
The Island of 100 People
Imagine the world was simplified to an island of 100 people. There were exactly 50 men and 50 women. The setting is perfect for every person to have a spouse, but we just had to make sure the right person got the right spouse. What if Man #1 was supposed to marry Woman #51 but instead married Woman #82? Due to this mistake, all other 49 marriages are doomed to fail!
While that scenario might seem extreme, we reason just like that in marriage. Expand that island back out to the population of the world right now and you will see that just one incorrect pairing in marriage has now give every other marriage an impossible scenario to succeed.
God’s Will for Your Marriage
Surely we aren’t destined to fail. Maybe we have misunderstood the will of God.
It is the will of God that you should be married to your spouse because you are now married to your spouse.
We fight against the ignorance of this world by discerning the will of God which are those things that are good and acceptable and perfect (Rom. 12:2). Giving thanks for the spouse you have is God’s will for you (1 Thess. 5:18). God’s will is for you to grow in Christ and not give into sexual pursuits with someone who is not your spouse (1 Thess. 5:3).
Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is (Eph. 5:17).
The will of God is for you to stay married. So, if your expectations are being unmet, you must determine why and adjust your perspective. Most marriages struggle due to unrealistic or unclear expectations.
Unrealistic expectations are those demands you make of your spouse of which he or she is incapable of providing. You might be expecting your spouse to provide the type of stability and meaning that only God can provide. Putting your husband or wife on an idol is damaging to both of you. You might be selfishly expecting your spouse to meet your every desire without any thought of their needs. There are simple limitations.
Unclear expectations are those that your spouse could meet if you would simply articulate them. I have realized that many marital frustrations are simply unspoken requests that could be reality if someone would simply say it. You didn’t marry a mind reader. Don’t fault him or her for that.
Whether it is unrealistic or unclear expectations, realize that you are setting your spouse up for failure. Remove the idea that you got the wrong person. Don’t lower your standards but simplify them. In your quest to make your needs known, don’t forget about the ones your spouse has as well.
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.