Expect Less, Pray More

Wait… What? Target’s marketing has taught us to “expect more and pay less” right? Well, I’m here to tell you ladies that it is the opposite in a Christ-centered marriage. DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a marriage expert, and I do NOT have a perfect marriage, so please remember that no blog article, magazine quiz or girls’ night out is a substitute for prayer, sweat and tears in your marriage.

One very helpful idea that my husband and I have adopted as a part of the foundation of our marriage is to have very few expectations. We all know there are countless books, seminars, workshops, and counselors out there and you may hear them say “do what’s best for you” or “make sure you are heard”. But, if we dig deep enough, I feel that the answer to a lot of the challenges that bombard marriages can be reduced down to changing, and, yes, even lowering, our expectations of ourselves and our spouses.

Ok, here’s the irony of it all… as a 20-something single christian girl, I was encouraged to never “lower” my expectations of my future spouse. At another time, I was told by a “mature” Christian woman that “maybe you have too many expectations” when referring to why I did not have a boyfriend (yeah – that actually happened!).

How do you balance seeking and marrying a man of God and then remembering he’s just a man, and I’m just a woman, and we are two sinners trying to figure this marriage thing out? I believe that balance is found in the Bible (SHOCKING, I know!).

For our first expectation, let’s start at the beginning, a familiar passage read at many a wedding, but instead of glossing over it, I challenge you to read, hear and see this from a different perspective, “Therefore man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24). In this passage, see that God desires that married couples stay connected, holding fast to one another.

So often I see couples living “separate” lives, each going about their day doing their thing completely apart from one another. I know that lives are busy, and if you add kids, busy work schedules, and/or jobs that require travel, it seems impossible to achieve this connectedness. But, you can be busy and still be connected. I’m not saying the only biblical thing to do is be joined at the hip and wear matching outfits to have a healthy marriage, but God intended married couples to be together. One way to stay connected is by using some of the technology available to us amidst the chaos of life in general. For example, my husband and I text and call each other throughout the day, multiple times a day. Sometimes being connected means making the most of the time you do have physically together. A very close friend of mine only speaks to her husband when he is on the way home and that is for a very brief time, but they are very connected once he’s home.

Now before you go telling you husband he needs to “communicate” and “connect” more because you just read this blog article, remember one very important scripture: “they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. ” (1 Peter 3:1-2). Be mad at Peter, not me, OK? Every marriage looks different because every person in the marriage is different and has different dynamics.

Now that we have established that we should expect to be together as one in our marriage, what else should we expect of our spouse and ourselves? Yard work? House work? Child-rearing? All that sounds great – and we may feel that it’s our responsibility to do some of those things. But, when it comes to the biblical expectation we should have for one another, let’s go to Micah 6:8 which states “He has told you, oh man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God”. From this, we can see that another true expectation we should have of our spouse is that they live a Godly life.

I am not giving you permission to correct your spouse’s spiritual life here. What I am doing is simply pointing out that all we are required to do is follow after Christ, and if we ourselves are doing that, then that is going to set many of our other expectations in their proper place. We should encourage our spouses in doing good – without trying to be their “holy spirit”.

And, let’s remember that many of our expectations are only based on our wishes and what we think should be the case. We elevate them, but we need to remember whom we are truly fighting against – it is certainly not our husbands, in-laws, kids or neighbors – it’s Satan himself. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of even the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). Our real battle every day is a spiritual one. We are battling the sin nature inside of us that says “we deserve” to be treated a certain way or “we have to have” a certain thing wether material, emotional or even spiritual. What we seek after may be good, yet when it is placed in importance over God and seeking what he wants us to do leads to problems – even incorrect expectations from our spouses!

So, remember the beauty of being one and the challenge to place your expectations at the Biblical foundation of living Godly lives.  Those ideals combined with a whole lot of prayer for one another is where your marriage can move to a place of peace, hope and joy.

{This article is written by Emily Roten. Emily is a wife and mother who works from home as a beauty consultant. Originally from just outside Seattle, she loves coffee (of course) but has adjusted nicely to the florida sunshine since she and her family moved to florida in May of 2013. She and her husband Michael have 2 darling daughters, so life is NEVER EVER dull. From an early age Emily has felt a calling from God to encourage, disciple and minister to women, particiarly in the areas of marriage, adoption and infertility.}

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