In Differences, Featured, Time to Make Your Marriage Dance, Wounds

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We Feel It Is Impossible To Meet Expectations

I remember the day I gave up. It seems Bob and I had been on a diet most of our marriage. With Bob, you don’t try a diet and then let go of it and try another. You add the restrictions of the second diet to the first—and the restrictions of the third to the first and second. After 35 years, our diet was a combination Exchange Diet / Atkins / Weight Watchers and who knows what else.

Then Bob came home with the Rainbow Diet. Make sure you have all six colors of food on your plate at each meal. and the only option in the blue category was blueberries. And by the way, he thought we should eat organic.

Okay, that may be a bit one-sided, but can you feel my frustration? I was mad. Why was I mad? It seemed no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t meet his expectations. It seemed impossible to please this man. So I gave up.

I don’t get mad loudly. I don’t yell and scream and throw a fit—I burn inwardly. The walls go up. I dig my heels in and refuse to move. I expect 50% of the people reading this post will identify with that. Eventually, Bob perceived there might be a problem.

It wasn’t the first time I felt hopeless in my life time. Am I beginning to sound like a broken record? I hope so, because I want you to think through what motivates your actions, which then block relationship with your spouse. Notice what I focused on. I focused on the details that led to the conclusion that all was hopeless.

I remembered another time I had given up: I was fifteen and had taken on a project that would surprise and please my dad. Instead of appreciating my effort, he searched for one tiny flaw and pointed it out. That was the day I decided there was no point in trying to please him. Even though the events were different, the underlying cause was the same—a feeling that I was unable to live up to expectations. And my strategy for solving the problem was the same. Just stop trying.

How about you? Are there parts of your marriage you’ve given up on? You feel there’s no hope so you stopped trying?

God says there is hope in Him. Absolutely nothing is impossible. The temptations we face are “common to man.” (I Corinthians 10:13)

As in the first three parts of this series, to alter your expectations:

  1. Don’t assume your spouse is aware of the problem. In this case of the on-going diet, Bob did not realize how much time I was spending shopping for ingredients and preparing meals. It was fair to at least tell him. Have the conversation before you explode in anger. Think through how you can nicely explain the problem as you see it. Then tell your spouse as clearly as you can.
  2. Offer a solution. Think through the interests of both parties. How can we eat healthy without having to spend so much time?
  3. Even though it hurts when you feel it is impossible to meet your spouse’s expectations, don’t lock your heart up. Don’t put up a wall between you and your spouse.  Ask God to help you forgive.

Don’t miss next week’s wrap up of our 5 part series about why we get angry with our spouses.

This article was first published on The Marriage Dance blog on November 30, 2016.

  • Avatar
    Janis Tucker

    Roxann-I’m in NY having a hot revival drink after discouraging shopping. So I opened and read your latest and found it quite insightful and helpful. The idea that leaped off the screen was about not assuming the Husband had ANY IDEA why the wife is struggling to cope. Yes-I need to verbalize. Just state the issue from my side of the problem. Excellent. Keep up the good work with your blog.

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