Realistic expectations and changes in marriage
Did you know that the person you married is not perfect? If you have not realized it yet, you will soon. That’s okay though because you aren’t either. Sometimes we get married and think that we have married the perfect person and that love is all we need to make this thing work out. Your spouse is perfect for YOU. However, neither of you are perfect humans. Trials will come, tempers will flare, frustrations will occur. If you hold onto unrealistic views of your spouse that they are perfect, the first time there’s a letdown or misunderstanding, you will be heartbroken and can even come to the point of resenting your spouse and questioning your marriage. How you handle these issues is the most important thing to focus on. Remember that while your spouse is not perfect, they love you, and you must communicate clearly. Do not have unrealistic expectations in your marriage; they will often remain unmet and this will keep you frustrated with your spouse. The result of this will be contention and a very unhappy home and marriage. All expectations and needs that are left unsaid, will remain unmet, and therefore are unrealistic. Did you catch that? Unsaid expectations will remain unmet. As we have already pointed out, your spouse is not a mindreader. Save yourselves some frustration and communicate clearly.
Over time we all change, we grow, we learn, we mature, and form new opinions. The person you married will be different a year from now, five years, and so on. And so will you. Most of these changes happen slowly, naturally. Are you growing and changing together or apart? I firmly believe this is a choice. If you are not nurturing your relationship and being intentional with your marriage, then you are choosing to grow apart. Your marriage will not sit in neutral. It will either grow and thrive or dissolve. This also usually happens slowly, over time. This is why checking in with your spouse is vital. Just ask, “Are we doing okay?” Additionally, your spouse will change as they are married to you. You will influence each other. What kind of influence are you having on your spouse? They will also change as a result of the leading of the Holy Spirit in their life. How do you handle these changes? Will you be supportive and encouraging or skeptical and dismissive? Change is not a bad thing. While I hope you have wonderful memories with your spouse, do not live in those past years. You don’t live there anymore. Looking back is fine but we can’t compare our lives now to then and be upset that our lives have changed. Don’t let your past make you discontent with your present.
Be present and make the most of every day you have together. We are not promised tomorrow. God does not owe us any amount of time. Psalm 90:12 says “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” James 4:13-15 “Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.”
Your marriage dynamic will also change when you have children. I feel like this is not talked about enough other than “sleep while you can.” And “enjoy the time you have together now. You won’t be able to do that soon.” These are the two most common things we hear when we are expecting. While there is truth in these statements, it doesn’t even scratch the surface of changes you will face. It is a good idea to have discussions before the baby is born on things you are okay to give up (temporarily) and things you are not willing to give up. Some couples do not want to give up that regular date night. If they’ve been dating weekly, they want to keep that in place. To that I say, go for it! Some couples shoot for once a month after the baby is born. This is fine, too. Write these things down if needed so you can see the things you discuss. If these goals have to be altered a few times, that is okay. Don’t get discouraged as you adjust to being new parents. Maybe you go grocery shopping and have lunch together, but after baby, it is easier for just one of you to go shopping. Instead of skipping that lunch date, the spouse that goes shopping can get food and bring it home. Having date nights in is just as valid as going out. Be okay with improvising. Stay in church. This seems like the first thing we drop because we are exhausted and it’s a lot of work getting yourself and a baby ready and out the door in the mornings. I understand being cautious of germs, I do. My youngest stayed in her car seat during service until she was 9 months old. You can make adjustments like this while keeping the normalcy of staying faithful to church. While your dynamic will change, it is okay to have a balance of both, improvising and trying to keep things the same. You do not become completely new people when the baby is born. You still have wants, likes, desires, needs.
You do not stop needing your spouse’s love, affection, and time when the baby comes. You are still husband and wife, not just dad and mom. We know how important it is to maintain our marriage relationship. So with that comes additional give and take.
Especially after the babies come. You will be adjusting to new routines, you will be sleep-deprived, hormones will be out of balance.
This is normal. Remembering this should cause us to be extra careful of our words and actions, while also extending more grace to our spouse. The sleep-deprived parent may speak sharply without realizing it. They may leave things undone, like taking out the trash and picking up the dry cleaning because they are just trying to take care of the baby and eat something decent. If you are the one that got a full night’s sleep, give grace. Be thankful you have a spouse that gets up at night with the baby. Do not get offended over that rude comment. We all can be unpleasant when we are tired. Give grace and be thankful. This is just a season. Things will not always be this way. And you know your spouse loves you and baby. You know they don’t just speak to you like that all the time. Don’t start a fight over an isolated incident.
Another aspect is to not place expectations on your spouse that they are not meant to fulfill. You cannot control your spouse, you cannot control every aspect of your marriage, you cannot strive to do everything perfectly so that you’ll have a perfect marriage without any sort of struggle. Scripture tells us we will have trials. You cannot protect your marriage from these trials. Instead, you have to trust the Lord and go through them together. Looking to your spouse for your source of happiness and contentment will lead to problems. They will let you down. Do not place this expectation on them. Expecting them to fulfill every physical, emotional, and material need and want is also very unrealistic and unhealthy. We must learn to look to the Lord for these things. He has told us to put our trust in Him and not other people, He has assured us of meeting our needs, and He has given us the Holy Spirit as our Comforter. He is the only one who can rightfully and faithfully meet the innermost needs we have. Your spouse is not God. Your spouse is to be your companion and closest friend, God has given us that benefit of marriage, but God is to still be our ultimate sufficiency.
Stay in the Word, stay close to the Shepherd, and let Him lead you in paths of righteousness.
With Hope in His Service,