This post continues the conversation that began with our post You Could Be Dissing Your Marriage And Not Know It.
I’ve been thinking a lot about disappointments and how detrimental they can be to a marriage. If you have a normal marriage there will be disappointments because God intends to use our disappointments to teach us in ways we would never learn without them.
We all have expectations. But is this bad? It’s a good thing when we’re expecting realistic things from our spouse, like faithfulness, provisions, strong work ethic, and a willingness to fight sexual temptations on a daily basis. But sometimes our expectations go too far. A wife may expect her husband to come home from a long day at work and be 100% at her service. A husband may think his wife should always be ready for hot and heavy sex without regard for her day or emotional state, after all this doesn’t hinder his desire.
There are many other examples, but these are two that can be a continual drip.
It’s no surprise that we will face disappointments. The important question to ask is how should we handle them?
It’s good to look at the Bible for our conclusions. When Moses came down from the mountain after receiving God’s commandments etched in stone by His very hand, he found the entire nation whoring after other gods. Sure, Moses had been gone a long time–over a month–but that time was short when measuring the faithfulness of one’s heart.
One of my favorite accounts in the Bible is the story of Jesus comforting Mary and Martha after the death of their brother, Lazarus. They knew Jesus was the Son of God, so they couldn’t fathom His unwillingness to come heal their brother when he became sick. What did this mean except that Christ didn’t care for them. Based on this false assumption Mary and Martha were greatly disappointed.
Yet in both of these circumstances, God was doing something bigger in order to display His glory on a larger scale. He promised He will never leave us. When we are disappointed in the way our marriage is going, the first thing most of us do is pray. We know that He is a present help to us in our times of need, but what do we do with disappointment when God seems to be silent? Does this give us a license to take matters into our own hands?
Going back to the story of Moses, Aaron was disappointed that his brother had delayed so long in returning. The people were even more disappointed and demanded action. Instead of encouraging the people to wait on their faithful God to send Moses back, they quickly ran after other gods, even gods they had crafted with their own hands. And Aaron not only allowed it, but did what he could to please their demands.
Wow. It’s hard to believe they couldn’t trust Moses for 30 plus days. Yet if we’re honest we do this with our spouse. If they have told us they’ll do something and there is a longer than expected delay, we’re tempted to assume the worse and attach motives to their lack.
How do I know? Because I do this to Tom far more than I care to admit. If we want to change and grow our marriage for God’s glory we MUST admit, confess and repent of our disappointments that turn to critical demands.
In what ways are you disappointed, right now, with your spouse?
Is it a reasonable expectation? Have you attached motives that you assume are the cause of their lack? May I encourage you to stop. Give your spouse the benefit of the doubt. There may be things hindering them that you don’t realize. The only way to know for sure is to talk. Don’t let your disappointments cause an unhealthy separation between you. Instead use them to discover more about your own heart. These times are intended by God to help us see what we’re craving. The Israelites were craving a God who was more comfortable that they could see, feel and control. We may be craving to control our spouse as well, but that’s another post for another day.
What disappointments is the Lord highlighting in your heart right now. Will you purpose to talk with your spouse about your struggle? Here’s a helpful hint: Let the conversation be focused on you and your heart rather than on what they have or haven’t done. After all God uses the lack in our spouse to reveal lack in our own trust of Him and His ability to do what seems impossible.