There are many things that I have come to realize over the years of my married life. My husband and I have seen God working throughout all of our years together, during the rocky years and in the best years. When we were in a stagnant place, He never left us. And when we have been growing by leaps and bounds, He has always been there. He has been the one constant and the One Who has kept us together when we otherwise may have given up. Today I would like to share with you just three things that He has taught me in my personal life and as a 100% partner in my marriage.
Never Say Never and Throw Your Expectations Out the Window
Communicate clearly. Recently, my husband and I watched a movie with our children in which a common phrase was “precision of language.” Every person in the movie was required to express themselves in an exact way, no ambiguous statements allowed, and if they didn’t, the previous phrase is the command they received.
I think marriage is a lot like that. We spend much of our time learning to communicate with one another, and often must restate what we said in order to be precise and get a clear meaning across. “Precision of language” is necessary. As a couple, if we work together, discuss the details of our days, try to understand our spouse and where he is coming from, then we soon find that our own version of “precision of language” is no longer needed. You will develop a better understanding of one another and your needs simply through talking on a more intimate level each day.
Never say never. As a society we use the word “never” with abandon. I know I grew up hearing it said about everything. We describe events or the shortcomings of people we know; we throw this word around in statements about our plans, saying we will “never visit that town again,” or some such thing.
My husband and I have learned that to say “never” is simply to relegate ourselves to that eventuality, and we have cut it almost completely out of our vocabulary. My husband once said, before we had even married, that he would never go back to a certain county in Florida. Would you like to guess where we lived for 8 years out of our nearly 20 together?
It sounds silly, and it is….I mean, will God send us somewhere simply because we say we won’t do it? I don’t know. He might. But what really happens when we say “never” is that we take His plans and toss them aside. We place ourselves squarely in the driver’s seat, which causes us to miss out on God’s best. When we say “never” to describe something that we won’t do or to express what someone has not done for us, we are limiting ourselves. We are limiting the blessings of God in our lives. We are limiting how other people can be used in our lives.
My husband and I joke about it together, because we ended up in that county that my husband said he would never visit again, but really we take it very seriously. God had planned for my husband’s first job to start there. He had planned for us to attend a church where we could begin to understand what a true life lived out for Christ is, where we could be a part of serving others and learning to live life for someone other than ourselves. It’s where two of our children were born, many of our stronger friendships (which are ongoing today) were built, and where we laid down roots for 8 years.
God used that place, those people, to grow us, and if we had stuck to our “never” then we may be in a completely different place in our lives right now. We would not have received the many blessings he bestowed on us during our time lived in “that county.”
Throw your expectations out the window. Our expectations must be realistic in marriage. Many of us come into our relationships with preconceived notions about how our lives will play out, and then we are extremely disappointed when things do not turn out the way we planned.
I am still learning how to approach my life with open hands and an open mind, fully surrendering my own plans and expectations to the One who sees my future. God is the only one who can plan with perfection how my days should be, with whom I will spend them, and where.
I don’t mean to say that we cannot have an expectation for things to come, but rather that we should not be ruled by them. When we approach our days with a rigid plan in place, then we are bound to be disappointed and to create a bit of chaos as circumstances change and our plans are ripped from our grip.
I am not “there” yet. There are many days when I struggle to hold onto my own expectations, and when I am disappointed. I cause a stir, and only realize later that it was due to my own expectations of what things “should have” been like.
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Learning to lay down our expectations allows us to find joy in the little things. We won’t be disappointed in ourselves, in others, or in our circumstances when we hold loosely to our “shoulds” to begin with.
Instead, let God meet that expectation and practice forgiveness with your spouse as he seeks to follow God in all that he does. Do the same yourself. You’ll both be on your way together to a better marriage and greater joy in your lives.
Wendy’s heart’s desire is to encourage women, from all walks of life, in their God-given roles as mamas, home educators, and wives. Whatever it is that God has called you to do, He will equip you for the journey. No matter the adversity you may encounter, His plans are good. HE is good. Always.