Expectations have been something that have caused enormous problems for me in the past as well as for many people I meet nearly every day. We live in a world where we are taught that we have a right to expect people to do the right thing, to say the right thing, and to behave the right way. We are entitled to these expectations and they are completely appropriate, right????? Well, now that I have said that, what do you think? Are we entitled to this or not?
Entitlement as defined in thefreedictionary.com is “To furnish with a right or claim to something.” This sounds like something that is right in marriage. After all marriage is a covenant between two people and therefore, we should have the “right or claim” to expect certain behaviors. Well, that sounds really good in theory, however, I have found that in reality many things don’t work like theory. When I was in nursing school they taught us their theory of nursing. I soon found out in the real world theory was not reality. Patients rarely responded exactly like the text book said, medicine rarely came from the pharmacy at the exact moment it was ordered, and the number of patients your were hired to care for frequently was exceeded by the number of patients you were actually assigned to. You see, expectations can set you up for a lot of disappointment and frustrations. In marriage your expectations can and frequently do the same thing. Many times we enter a relationship with fairy tale expectations. Prince Charming is coming in and to rescue me from this life I have. He will make me his queen and we will live happily ever after in a land far far away. Hey it happened to Cinderella, Snow White, and Bell, so it could happen to me right? We even get some additional encouragement about how these expectations are going to play out while we are dating. During dating, everyone is on their best behavior, most of the time. Even if someone isn’t, there is a ton of grace for them because we are busy looking at our dream life through rose colored glasses. All this sets up up for high expectations and the potential for some incredible disappointments.
So where do we go from here. First, begin to take a real look at your expectations. What are they? Then realize that you need to begin to release yourself from them. God gave me a great visual of what this looks like. Expectations are like the handcuffs that keep us bound to frequent disappointments and hurt. When you choose to release yourself from expectations, it is like unhand-cuffing yourself from those disappointments and hurt. That sounds great and many people want to do just that, but that can be very hard to do. It takes practice and a daily dedication to review your motives and thoughts. When you release yourself and allow people to be who they are without the idea that you want them to change or that you have the ability to change them, then you find a place of peace that you probably haven’t experienced in a long time. I speak from personal experience when I say finding this place in my life has probably been one of the biggest life change I have experienced.
I just wanted to remind you that truly the only person you can is yourself. While you can influence change in others, the best way to do that is to change yourself. When you change yourself and the way you interact with others, this will in turn change how others interact with you.
How does this work in marriage. Well, I will climb on my soap box yet again. Start by becoming the husband or wife that the Bible tells you to be because you love God and and want to bring Him great joy. Change your focus to pleasing God not changing your spouse and I promise you will begin to see amazing changes in your marriage. When you do what you do to please God then He will make things work out for you.
So today, begin to eliminate expectations in your life. Begin to live a life free from the pain and frustrations they bring. Begin to see the beauty that kind of life can hold for you.