5 “Whys” of My Unmet Expectations of Marriage

A fairy-tale wedding, an enchanted honeymoon, and a blissful marriage filled with joy, children, and deep love. That’s what I dreamed of. How about you?

Soon, I found my expectations of marriage would go unmet. Fifty-two years later, I can look back and see the 5 “whys” of my unmet expectations of marriage.

Before we were married, Keith and I did not talk in detail about what we wanted from our marriage, but we did talk about our relationships with God and that we wanted children.

We planned that I would work while he finished his undergraduate and law degrees.

I knew with certainty that God had prepared this man for me and that we had a mission. I just did not know the mission, yet.

We did not talk about the roles of husband and wife. We just assumed that they would be similar to our parents’ roles – but different. We didn’t discuss the differences, though. Mistake!

Little did I know that we would traipse the world with our daughter as Keith served in the Air Force as an attorney (JAG). In the Philippines, all I could think about was that we were separated from our families and friends; we didn’t have the conveniences enjoyed in the United States; our toddler suffered sicknesses that she wouldn’t have endured in America, and Keith’s heavy workload and social responsibilities were demanding.

Even broken bones – that’s me with a splint on this summer. This wasn’t what I expected. 

Notice the wind blowing my hair and the wind puffing Keith’s clothes out. The wind puffs our expectations out of proportion with reality.

The wind puffs our expectations out of proportion with reality.

“The thing with expectations is that we usually don’t even realize we have them until they are not met.”[i]

As situations came up, I began to recognize my unspoken expectations

  • I thought Keith would automatically make me happy. Does anything instantly make you happy? 
  • I wanted him to be available for me whenever I wanted him. The only One who is always available for us is God. He will never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6). 
  • I assumed that Keith would fix broken washers, toilets, and cars. My Daddy was an engineer, and he and my brothers fixed everything. 
  • I assumed that we would continue spending as much quality time with each other as we did when we were dating. After all, we dated for three years; isn’t three years long enough to establish a habit? 

I’ve asked myself why I was dumbfounded and discovered five reasons why I had unmet expectations. Maybe you can identify with some of these “whys.”

5 “Whys” of Unmet Expectations

  1. We all stumble in many ways (James 3:2a). We make many mistakes, whether intentional or unintentional. Both husband and wife sin. What if we looked at each other from God’s perspective? He gave us to our husbands to be partners in honoring God in whatever we do. Our husbands especially need us to help them keep from falling, or if they have fallen, help them to get up. How can we partner with our husbands today to help prevent them from falling?
  2. Our treasure is misplaced. Jesus said that where our treasure is that’s where our heart is (Matthew 6:21). Is my heart treasuring what I want to get out of this marriage or what I want to give to the marriage? What if I set my heart on supporting and blessing my husband?
  3. We have earthly eyes. We understand our husbands by what they say and do, not their hearts or God’s work in them. David wrote that God formed our inward parts (Psalm 139:13-14). Can you picture God lovingly forming your husband? God formed our husbands like a potter took the clay and formed a beautiful vase or platter. What if we looked at our husbands as God’s work of art?
  4. We want to be served. Jesus said that He came not to be served but to serve and give His life for others (Matthew 20:28). Am I focused on serving my husband? Am I willing to give my hopes and dreams, my life, to serve Keith? There is a special blessing for those who serve others in humility. That includes our husbands. How can we serve our husbands with a humble spirit beginning with today?
  5. We think of love as a feeling. The love of Jesus was intentional. His love caused Jesus to give His life for His friends – you and me (John 15:13). Love gives itself away for the sake of friends. How can we take intentional steps to show our love for our husbands? Do we call our husbands our friends?

The perplexing “whys” of unmet expectations become inspiration when we see our husbands through God’s eyes.

Looking back, I can see that God was at work in an incredible way in our marriage. God is working in your marriage, too. Can you see Him at work?

Perhaps you can remember a time when your husband said just the right words to encourage you. Or maybe you and your husband struggled financially and someone dropped off a bag of groceries or brought a hot meal to you. What hope did that bring?

I like to put reminders around our house to remind us of how God has worked in our lives and marriage. The reminders have been Scriptures that were particularly important to us during a challenge.

We also arrange objects in strategic places as simple as a rock to remind us of God’s work. You’ll find Scriptures on our refrigerator, on our bathroom mirrors, and in other places.

Love poems have adorned our garage door so that Keith would see them as he came into the house. The reminders help us to meet change with the assurance that God worked in our lives in the past and will continue to work in and through us.

Change marked Sarai and Abram’s marriage. 

Sarai and Abram enjoyed a beautifully wrapped life in Ur of the Chaldees (God changed their names to Sarah and Abraham in Genesis 17). Abram’s father, Terah, moved the family about 600 miles away to Haran in the land of Canaan. After Terah died, God told Abram to take his family and possessions and travel to a land that God would show him. 

Imagine Sarai’s confusion. Perplexed might be an understatement. She expected the nice life in Ur of the Chaldees, but they moved.

Sarai expected babies, but there were no babies.

She worshiped idols, but a strange God told Abram to take everyone to an unidentified land (Genesis 12:1), and he did.

Famine knocked on their door, and they opened the door to a home in Egypt. In Egypt, Abram asked Sarai to tell others that she was his sister (she was his half-sister and his wife). The king took her into his harem with no resistance from Abram.

God took care of Sarai when Abram didn’t and restored her to Abram. 

God promised a son. They waited decades … no son. Sarai decided to help God out and gave her slave, Hagar, to Abram, so that she could have a son by Hagar. That turned sour.

Sarai’s marriage was filled with perplexing moments, disappointments, and questions. Her story points to God’s story, a story of His love for His people.

God took one man and one woman to transform into Abraham and Sarah, the father and mother of nations.

God used two ordinary people to form a union that would bless the world and bring the Messiah, Jesus.

From unmet expectations to unexpected inspiration … God’s love story that unites heaven and earth.

God’s story brings union with Him through Jesus’ work on the cross: a great sacrifice that brought forgiveness of sins and eternal life to those who surrendered their lives and followed Jesus. Isn’t that what unity is all about – surrender?

What if husbands and wives surrendered their expectations for their marriages to God and partnered with each other in the mission God gave both of them?

Let’s surrender ourselves to God as living sacrifices and allow Him to renew our minds and hearts into the masterpieces He’s prepared for us and our marriages (Romans 12:1-2).

Our dear Marriage Maker, thank You for our marriages. You knew the plans You had for our marriages before the foundation of the world, and they were better than we could have imagined. Lord, cause us to see our husbands and wives through Your eyes and unite us … You, our spouse, and us. Cause our marriages to be transformed so that they honor and glorify You.

Look at your spouse through God’s eyes.
What do you see?

[i] Grace, Alisa. (October 12, 2015). “Twelve Common Marriage Expectations.” Biola University Center for Marriage and Relationships. http://cmr.biola.edu/blog/2015/oct/12/12-common-marriage-expectations/

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