Unrealistic expectations in marriage can affect your satisfaction. Here are five biblical strategies to help you define expectations and develop lasting love.
As a writer, words are important to me. I try to weigh how I use each one, what they are conveying, and to whom they are speaking.
So it’s no surprise that with each selection of a card expressing love for my husband, the greeting’s words go through a biblical filter, somewhat like this.
The card proclaims, “You make my life complete.” Well, no, Colossians 2:10 says that “in Him you have been made complete.”
Another one states, “Didn’t know love before you.” Not exactly. 1 John 4:19 tells me, “We love because He first loved us.”
Still another, “You fulfill my every need.” Ah, will pass. After all, Matthew 6:8 states, “…your Father knows what you need, before you ask Him.”
Why Expectations in Love Matter
Eventually, my endless rummaging through cards results in my finding a sentiment that more fits my understanding and experience of holy matrimony.
“We’ve had our ups and downs.” More like it.
“I’m glad we’re on this adventure together.” Adventure, that’s one way to describe it. Smile.
When I finally find one of these heartfelt cards, it reinforces what marriage has been teaching me through the years. Such as:
- My husband can’t and isn’t equipped to meet my every need, as I’m not able to meet his every need
- He is going to disappoint me at times, as I will him
- Love is not a feeling, it’s a moment-by-moment, daily choice
More and more, I’m realizing that my expectations for marriage can affect my satisfaction. Unrealistic ones will cause me to feel disappointed because being married hasn’t meant that I’ve never felt lonely, grieved, unappreciated, or fearful.
5 Strategies for Developing Lasting Love
Below are five biblical strategies to help define expectations and develop lasting love.
1. Use the Buddy System
Long-term matrimony can bring numerous unexpected turns in life and Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 states that, “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will life up his companion.”
It reminds me of times when my husband and I are both employed and able to enjoy the extras that come with the two incomes. As well as, the times when my husband was in school full-time or unemployed and I helped to provide needed finances. Or, where I’ve been at home full-time and he’s been employed with sometimes two or more jobs to provide for us. It also brings to mind the times when we’ve experienced losses, disappointment, caring for aging parents, and more and how we have supported each other through the challenges.
2. Look Ahead
When looking beyond my present marital situation is needed, Philippians 3:13-15 offers straightforward words about pressing on, reaching forward, not looking back but looking forward to what lies ahead.
This passage is especially helpful when hurts from the past try to paralyze and prevent me from forgiving and moving forward in my marriage. This strategy is especially helpful during these types of struggles by directing my thoughts to the future, to enjoying our growing family together, and what our staying together means to us and them.
3. Lean on Christ
At times, daily challenges can wear a couple down. Philippians 4:13 encourages me that, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me,” and staying married does take strength, more than I’m capable on my own, especially when I’m feeling lonely, forgotten, tired, angry, unhappy, or disappointed. This strategy aims to refocus my source of strength so that I look beyond my own capabilities.
4. Know Your Source
Philippians 4:19 assures me that God will supply all my needs according to His riches. So no matter what our current employment or financial situation is, it’s not dependent on only our own efforts or situation. As well, this verse also speaks to emotional and spiritual needs like companionship, comfort, joy, contentment, encouragement, and peace. Over the years, I’ve been learning that God does often work through my husband to meet needs in my life but he isn’t the source. God is my source for all my needs in life.
5. Be A Help Mate
Commonly referred to at the “Proverbs Wife” passage, Proverbs 31:10-31 provides me with practical insight as to what my participation in marriage might look like on a day-to-day basis. It addresses my willingness to be a help to my husband in meeting everyday, hands-on needs in our life together.
Just like running card sentiments through a biblical filter, I’ve found it’s vital to base strategies for developing lasting love on scriptural principles, ones that help keep me on track towards a lifelong marriage. These strategies include fine-tuning my expectations with biblical insights and godly guidelines.
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Ashleigh Slater, Founder & Managing Editor
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What Women Are Saying
-- Emily P. Freeman, author of Grace for the Good Girl: Letting Go of the Try-Hard Life
"Real life is not always pleasant. Every marriage experiences disappointments, misunderstandings, sickness and financial crisis. Ashleigh doesn’t camouflage the pain in her own marriage, and offers practical ideas on how to walk through the difficulties and find intimacy on the journey. If you are anything like me, I predict that as you read, you too will find yourself laughing, wiping tears, and saying 'Oh, yes.'"
-- Gary Chapman, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The 5 Love Languages
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