Our marriage does not match the one I imagined as a girl. It doesn’t even come close to comparing to the marriages I see on Facebook, or sitting in church a few rows in front of us. I know comparing gets us nowhere, but nothing about my husband is what I pictured him to be. Aren’t we all a bit taken aback after the wedding bells stop chiming and everyday life hits?
The thing is, while my husband isn’t at all what I had created in my imagination while I was single, he is a blessing to me in ways I never anticipated. He is far better in ways that really matter. I know I am not everything Scott imagined in a wife. In fact, I am sure he was a little shell-shocked. But God knew perfectly well what He was doing when he put us together. We are pretty opposite, but we balance each other out in so many ways. He supports me in ways I never knew I would even [ever] need help with.
I laugh now at the things I had hoped he would be. Some of them seem so silly now. In fact, they pale in comparison with the man God actually gave me. It has been difficult at times, but God is faithful and we are proof that He sanctifies and redeems. He turns our failures around for good. If we aren’t careful, we can invite unneeded misery when we allow these two things to rule us:
Isn’t so much of our disappointment based on failed expectations? Tim Keller explained it well in one of his messages. He said to imagine you are about to enter a room. The person you are with tells you it’s an unbelievable room. It’s a honeymoon suite that is filled with luxury. You open the door and there you see a plain room with one bed and a television. You feel let down and sad because it did not come close to your expectations. It is a really horrible room! Now imagine you are about to enter the same room and have the same person standing next to you. That person tells you that you are about to enter the coldest, darkest prison cell on the planet. It is depressing and uninviting. You walk into that room and see the same bed and the same television, but you are thinking it’s not a bad room at all! It is much better than you expected.
The only thing that changed was your expectations, not the room. We can experience tremendous anxiety and sadness when we set unrealistic expectations in place.
When I was younger, I imagined my spouse would dote on me each day. Why didn’t I picture all of the things I would do for him? Maybe it’s because I am a tad bit selfish. Maybe we are all a tad bit selfish. In our culture, we tend to grasp at comfort and leisure. We love the idea of being nurtured and coddled, even to the point of becoming demanding. We all have needs that need to be met, but we can’t expect our spouses to be the ones to always meet those needs. They will eventually burn out.
I am learning to view my husband as my fellow sojourner; the one who is on this earthly pilgrimage with me. Too often I want him to solve all of my problems. But he isn’t my emotional ATM, he is my best friend. I can’t just withdraw constantly with no thought to his own emotional health. I should want the best for him and should be concerned about his well being. Instead of wondering what I can get out of him on any given day, I should instead wonder how I can help him out. He has a tough job, leading our family, and I don’t envy the pressure he must feel at times. I hope he knows I appreciate his efforts, and not only love who he is today, but who God is making him to be.
I may not have the marriage I pictured, but I have the marriage that is best for me. By expecting less, and being grateful for more, I am able to see things clearer and not stumble over the bitterness and anger that comes with a wrong perspective.