Yesterday we continued our series on expectations in marriage. The topic that we focused on yesterday was a "my way...or the highway" approach to marriage that is based on the expectation that our spouse must change to meet all of our needs and bring us fulfillment. In this Great Expectations series we have identified that God has wired us to look to him for the provision of our needs and to serve our spouse in marriage, submitting to them and pursuing what is good for them, encouraging them to also find that their fulfillment can be in God alone.
This my way...or the highway approach can become most evident and explicit when our spouse does not change to meet a desire that we experience. This happens when our spouse doesn't see, or maybe doesn't value our desires like we expect them to, and we try to change them so that they do see, value, and meet our expectations. In this approach to relationship, when our spouse does not not change we reject them, maybe for just a brief time; or for a deeply held expectations, maybe permanently.
I have found this attitude to be evident in my life when I am striving to serve my spouse Heidi with the hope that she will then meet an expectation of mine. When I have done this, I have served her, not expecting God to meet my needs, and provide me the strength to serve Heidi. No, I have put my expectations and needs on hold, until a future moment when I expect that Heidi will fulfill them. In times when this takes place and then she doesn't reciprocate as I expect her to I can become embittered, and even for a brief time reject her because of her choice or inability to meet my expectations of her. I treat her as if she has to meet all of my expectations, or I will give her the cold shoulder.
Maybe you have experienced something like this in your own marriage. As we try to do good for our spouse, maybe we go out of our way to try to show them that they are valuable and loved. And after we do this we find that we expect them to see our needs and value them as we just tried to do for them. As this gap is exposed in our spouse' actions and our expectations, we have the opportunity to run to God and depend on him for our unmet needs, and for the strength to humbly serve our spouse knowing that God will provide for our needs. In this we can remind ourselves that God is able to give us strength in our weakness.
May God soften your heart and make you willing to turn to Him for what you need as you serve your spouse this week.
What’s my next step?
We encourage you to consider engaging in the following as a way of handing off faith in your family.
Talk about a humble life: Philippians 2 encourages us to put on the humble attitude that Jesus has. This week, talk with your family about moments when God has given you strength to serve another person. This week consider reading Philippians 2:1-11 at a daily family experience (meal, bedtime, etc.). Talk about small ways that you could humbly serve each other or another family in your neighborhood. As a family, acknowledge how God has been present and providing for you this week. Conclude your discussions with times of family prayer, asking for the mind of Christ and the grace to live his humble life.
We encourage you to consider engaging in the following as a way of deepening your own faith.
Memorize and meditate upon Philippians 5-11: This week consider spending some time memorizing and meditating upon Philippians 2:5-11. Spend some time thinking about how you can humbly serve those around you. Chat with God about what, if anything, keeps you from serving others. Ask him for the grace to hide in him for the provision of your needs, as well as eyes to see how you can serve others around you.