By Christy K.
I don’t know about you, but I’m a planner. I plan my day and week. I plan weekly menus. I plan for family get-togethers at holidays. I plan for birthdays and anniversaries. My four daughters would get in the car at school pick up and ask, “Mom, what’s the plan for tonight?”
In my planning, I also envision how each of those things are going to turn out. Except for meal planning, I’ve found my expectations are usually wrong. I’m wrong when I expect my adult daughters to want to spend time with me when they have busy young families. I’m wrong when I expect certain friends to be as responsive to me as I am to them. I’m wrong to expect my husband to anticipate my needs and wants, even through almost 25 years of marriage. Why are these expectations wrong? Because they are unspoken.
It’s taken me a long time to learn this lesson and I hope to impart this wisdom to you and save you some heartache.
My husband and I lead a marriage group called “Begin Again” that helps couples improve their communication. One of the first things we teach is the real number one reason couples divorce. It’s not financial. It’s not infidelity. It’s unmet expectations! So many times, we go through our day to day, each of us having expectations that have not been expressed, that are not met. This builds a resentment in us that ultimately becomes bitterness. This is one of the things scripture references when it says in Hebrews 12:15 “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” And if you look further, go to Deuteronomy 29:18 “Make sure there is no man or woman, clan or tribe among you today whose heart turns away from the Lord our God to go and worship the gods of those nations; make sure there is no root among you that produces such bitter poison.”
We want what we want when we want it. Satan loves this about us! He’s used the same tactic since his time in the Garden with Eve. Eve had it great until Satan got into her head. He does the same to us! He gets in my head when I feel that I am the one maintaining the relationship with (fill in the blank). He gets in my head when I feel like my husband spends more time on (fill in the blank) than with me. He gets in my head when I feel like no one appreciates who I am and what I do.
The common word in all these scenarios is “feel.” Satan messes with our feelings! He plants a seed of doubt, and we, in our flesh, run with it!
So how do we fix this? Knowing is half the battle! Now that we know this is one of his most common weapons, we come against it with the Word of God. We come against it with what we know is true, and that is God wants my relationships to be pure, honest, and encouraging. “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5)
You ask, “but Christy, what does this look like?”
It means I have meaningful discussions with my husband about what my dreams are for our marriage, our days, our nights, our weeks and months. It means I speak directly to him and not in vague ways and hope he gets it. It means I let him know that sometimes I may not express it well, but I want him to know my heart about situations, and I can trust him with my heart and feelings.
It means I change my expectations of my daughters. Even though in my heart, I want the holidays to be perfect and for them to want to be with us for a family dinner, I must lower my expectations and remember they have families of their own. I can express my desire to have a date where our families come together to celebrate, but if someone can’t make it, I don’t pout. Instead, I celebrate those who ARE there!
It means I let the church family know what I can participate in and what I cannot. I make no excuses as to why I cannot participate in certain projects/teams/events, I just say, “No, I’m not available on that date.” It means I express myself to my husband about what we as a family are available for and what we are not. It means we, as a couple, set the precedent that in our home, it’s God first, then our spouse, then our children, and then our church, and we lovingly let the church family know this.
It means my attitude changes as I try to align myself with Psalm 37:4: “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
I pray this is helpful to you as you prepare for the Fall season and all that it brings. I pray as you plan, that you remember to express yourself clearly, calmly and politely and remember it’s your enemy Satan, who seeks to disrupt, deceive and discourage you in your relationships. Know your enemy!
I can still plan ahead. I just adjust my expectations appropriately and plan on!