“Celebrate what your spouse can give; rather than focusing on expectations that are difficult or impossible for them to meet”
One main reason for unhappiness in any area of life is expecting something, but then finding that the expectation is not met. Have you ever seen that in marriage? As King Solomon put it in Proverbs, “The hopes of the godly result in happiness, but the expectations of the wicked come to nothing.”
You might be thinking, Wicked? That’s not me! But the wise author of Proverbs often uses stark either-or language to help us see a pattern that is anything less than pure and godly. So here’s my revised question for you:
Do you have any ongoing expectations of your spouse that you think makes perfect sense, but which your spouse finds difficult or impossible to meet? Have you ever found yourself unhappy because you’re focusing on the fact that your spouse isn’t doing the things you wish they would do –or is doing things you wish they wouldn’t do?
All of us have certain things that come naturally – and all have things that are very difficult to do consistently, or which take a long time to learn. Instead of continually expecting something and then getting hurt or upset when it doesn’t happen, those in the happiest marriages recognize when they might be expecting something a bit unrealistic from their spouse. They stop themselves from thinking something like, If he really loved me, he would …. Or, If she really appreciated me, she wouldn’t ….
Even better, these happy spouses choose to focus on their mate’s great qualities and appreciate what they can do. For example, instead of “If he really loved me, he would give me a big hug when I am upset with him,” a wife might realize He is probably confused and upset himself, and needs to get away and process. So she responds with grace and decides to not get hung up on that. Instead, she appreciates the way he is always willing to come back and talk about things the next day.
Also, realize your mate doesn’t have psychic abilities! Maybe you hoped your wife would spice things up for your anniversary getaway by buying a special, intimate outfit to reveal. Instead of getting frustrated that she didn’t, realize: