Are your expectations for marriage realistic? It’s an axiom of life that couples always approach marriage with greater than they realized expectations (we expect to be happier with this person, we expect love, we expect affirmation, etc), and are always disappointed in some way or another (I’m not as happy, as loved, or as affirmed as I thought).
Unfortunately, this tends to continue into marriage as well. Husbands and wives both often expect their spouse to be more kind, more wise, more spiritual, harder working and better looking. When these (unrealistic) expectations are continually not met, it leads to frustration, discouragement, and anger. These negative emotions run in cycles and over time have a debilitating effect on a marriage.
Paul Tripp, in his book What Did You Expect?? Redeeming the Realities of Marriage, says that Scripture gives three “essential wisdom perspectives…that enable us to have realistic expectations for our marriage.” So what kinds of expectations does Scripture anticipate that we will have in our marriages?
(1) You are conducting your marriage in a fallen world.
“Our marriages live in the middle of a world that does not function as God intended. Somehow, someway, your marriage is touched every day by the brokenness of our world…but you do not have to be afraid. God is with you, and he is working so that these grieving things will result in good things in and through you.”
(2) You are a sinner married to a sinner.
“At some point you will be selfish. In some situation you will speak unkindly. There will be moments of jealousy, bitterness, and conflict. You will not avoid this because you are a sinner married to a sinner. If you minimize the heart struggle that both of you have carried into your marriage, here’s what will happen: you will tend to turn moments of ministry into moments of anger, you will tend to personalize what is not personal, you will tend to be adversarial in your response, and you will settle for quick, situational solutions that do not get to the heart of the matter.”
(3) God is faithful, powerful, and willing.
“Yes, you live in a bad neighborhood (fallen world), and the two of you are less than perfect (sin), but in all this you are not left to your own resources. The God who determined your address lives there with you and is committed to giving you everything you need.”
This material is really immensely helpful. John Piper said this about it:
“Noel and I listened to most of this book driving in the car! Wise words. Authentic experience. Provocative application. Turned a long trip into a fruitful two-person marriage seminar.”