Before we got married, in our pre-marital counseling class we were taught that expectations unsaid, always go unmet. It was a great piece of advice, advice that we have implemented throughout our marriage and passed on to other couples embarking on the same journey. I never had a problem with the advice until I realized that usually when I expect something from someone then I feel like I deserve it. And when I don’t get something I believe I deserve to get upset. The saying of, “expectations unsaid, always go unmet,” is a great concept at its core but I think it deserves a little more unpacking or else you might accidentally end up robbing the one you love just like I did.
When I type out that I get upset when I don’t get something I think I deserve it kind of makes me cringe at myself. I sound like one of those girls from that show that used to be on TV, Sweet Sixteen, who would get upset at their parents when their cake had pink sprinkles instead of purple ones even after their parents had dropped $50k on their sixteenth birthday party. They expected pink sprinkles, they felt like they deserved pink sprinkles, so they were upset when they didn’t get them. I know it’s usually not as extreme of a scenario as being upset about the wrong colored sprinkles but I hope it gets the point across that usually we get upset when we don’t get what we feel we deserve.
You see a couple years ago I got to the point where I thought my personal hopes, dreams and desires should be what our family was always working towards, regardless of whether or not it aligned with their hopes, dreams and desires. I was working hard at home to raise our babies during the days but I also had dreams of becoming an ultra successful entrepreneur. FROM MY POINT OF VIEW, because I was bringing in an income from home AND taking care of the kids I was always doing more than my husband and I felt like he always owed me something.
I started to expect him to do more things around the house because I felt like he was in debt to me. In my mind, if we were on even playing field by both providing for our family financially then we needed to be on even playing field when it came to house hold duties, changing diapers, etc. Because I thought he owed me help in these areas. I didn’t perceive it as love when he took action and did these things for me. In fact I was hardly grateful at all because he was just doing what he was supposed to be doing, right? I robbed him of the ability to love me because I had put us in the roles of debt and debtor instead of husband and wife. It might not have been the same scenario but have you ever been there?! Have you ever robbed your spouse of the ability to love you because you let their love become an expectation, something you were owed?
So how do we fix this? This was the question I had to ask myself as I started to see my marriage change for the worse right before my eyes. Well first and foremost we have to come to accept that we aren’t “owed” anything. Just like that 16 year old wasn’t owed an extravagant party or pink sprinkles on her cake we aren’t owed anything from our spouse. GASP!!!!.....I don’t know about you but for me that is a hard pill to swallow. What do you mean my spouse doesn’t owe me anything? Don’t I deserve a good life, a roof over my head, a clean house, the family with the amount of kids I’ve always desired?!!
To put it simply, NO. This is going to sound harsh but we actually deserve nothing in this life because we are all sinners and what we deserve is death. Like I said, I know it’s harsh but it’s the truth and it’s what makes the gospel so beautiful. While we were sinners and deserved nothing Christ died for us and gave us everything. Is it ok to have hopes, dreams and desires, YES, absolutely! But the moment we pass off our hopes, dreams and desires to our spouse and EXPECT them to fulfill them and make them come true then we ROB them of the ability to love us. That’s why this post is titled, “I Robbed my Husband.”
To explain a little more, marriage as Christ designed it between a husband and wife should be the ultimate submission contest. As it says in Ephesians 5 starting at verse 21, “SUBMIT TO ONE ANOTHER out of reverence for Christ. Wives submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is head of the church, his body and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should SUBMIT IN EVERYTHING to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and GAVE HIMSELF UP for her....”
Does this mean that we aren’t ever supposed to talk about what we desire in life and our marriage with our spouse? No. Communicating your desires, dreams and hopes with one another is a very healthy part of marriage. What it does mean is that once we have communicated those things to our spouse we can’t turn them into a box of expectations that we just hand off to them. We have to remember that they don’t owe it to you to make them come true. In a covenantal, Christ-centered marriage we owe one another everything but are owed nothing. We owe our spouse love and submission because of what Christ did for us but not because we inherently deserve it.
Ideally both parties should submit to one another as Christ commanded. I believe that is the secret to having a happy and fulfilling marriage the way God designed it. When Christopher (my husband) and I live out our marriage in this way our marriage is definitely firing on all cylinders.
But what if both parties don’t submit?! You might be scared right now and asking yourself the question, what if I step out in submission and they don’t respond by fulfilling my hopes dreams and desires? Usually when we have that fear it’s because in some way we are still holding onto the expectation that they owe us something in return. We are called to love not because our spouse loves us but because Christ loved us. As a Christian our goal in this life should be to become more like Christ and as you step out in fear to love, not knowing if you will be loved in return, you will get to experience what loving like Christ really feels like. I pray that your spouse eventually responds to your love and submission with love and submission towards you but until that happens just bask in the feeling of what loving how Christ did really feels like
Does this way of doing marriage sound radical?! That’s because it is. Living a life in obedience for Christ is RADICAL. We aren’t called to do marriage like everyone else. We are called to be Holy and set apart. When people look at your marriage do they see Christ and the representation of how He loved us?! Or do they see two selfish people trying to use their marriage to fulfill all of their personal hopes dreams and desires?!
No matter which marriage you are in let us all do what Christ did for us...loved even when we didn’t deserve it, covenant-like love, with no strings attached.