★ Re|Engage – Expectations ★

ReEngage - Lesson 11So how are you enjoying the series from the re|engage class?  I know they have been strung out over time but if you have missed any you can read previous posts on lessons… DailyDependence.WordPress.com/category/reengage-class/?order=asc

My hope is that as you read these that you will start to apply the principles that you are learning about.  The goal is to get better at extending grace and forgiveness…to try to communicate more so that conflict is stopped before it escalates?  It is important to put into practice what we learn.  Knowledge without application is pointless.

In the Communication lesson I mentioned that the first 8 lessons are all about explaining the gospel and how it relates to marriages, the second half is all about the practical response to the Gospel.

And that is the point; each additional lesson will give you another tool in your toolbox to improve your marriage.  2 Timothy 4:7 (NIV) says,

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

Consider this your battle cry to fight for your marriage!

The reading focused on this Principle:  Adore and Respect.

The main idea of Lesson 11 was:

You have many expectations about your spouse and your marriage that, if unmet and handled incorrectly, will lead to disappointment and anger. You need to be able to articulate and deal with unmet expectations and realize that God is your only true hope.

Unmet expectations are one of the major causes for conflict in a marriage.  They can really damage a marriage if we are not careful.  Ephesians 6:12 (NLT) says,

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

As we delve into the topic of “Expectations,” a good thing to remember in marriage is to…ALWAYS test the voice in your head.  As your expectations of your spouse are not met think through what is going on.

For instance, when your husband forgets to take out the trash, Satan will whisper, “He is so lazy. He’ll never change.”  You will start dwelling on that characteristic.

However, if you ask yourself the question about who would be whispering that to you, you’ll realize that your Heavenly Father would NOT be telling you how lazy your husband is.

God’s voice would be saying, “I love this guy, and I sent my son to die for him. Treat him as I would.”

The same obviously applies to woman as well, but I will just pick on the men!

Ultimately we need to change the way we approach situations because if we continue to expect the same thing without changing anything, we will continue in the crazy cycle.

You’ve heard it said, “Insanity: Doing the Same thing over and over and expecting different results.”  Albert EinsteinReEngage - Lesson 11 - Daily Dependence - Albert Einstein - Insanity

The book had this great definition of what expectations are, and if we can grasp this, we can get out of the insanity cycle.

“Expectations are attitudes and thoughts regarding the way things could be or should be, and you have expectations for every area of your life.”

Right before I was married by my wife’s uncle, he said something which has stuck with us for our entire marriage,

“The things that attract you to your spouse have a flip side.  Over time the very thing that you loved can cause conflict.”

For instance:

  • You could be attracted to someone who is very dependable and that you can count on, the flip side of that is that person may be boring.
  • You could be attracted to someone who is very good at managing money, the flip side of that is that person may be very cheap and never wants to go out anywhere.
  • You could be attracted to someone who is very healthy and works out all the time, the flip side of that is that person may be at the gym all the time, leaving the other person home alone often.

This piece of advice really helped us to keep an eye on our expectations and understand the reality of this “flip side.”  ReEngage - Lesson 11 - Daily Dependence -FlipsideSo for a bonus action item, think about what attracted your spouse and then think about whether the “flip side” is causing conflict or hurt right now.  Then discuss it together.

“You joy is your job…I own my emotions, emotions don’t own me.”  Steven Furtick

I think everyone will agree that expectations can be a very dangerous thing, especially when they are not met.  I love this quote,

“In marriage, your spouse often doesn’t have the same expectations or isn’t aware of yours, which can create tension in a relationship.”

Amen?  I think the book nailed it when they said that,

“Generally, your expectations are not right or wrong; however, the way you deal with unmet expectations can have a lot to do with whether you experience oneness in your marriage.”

Most people have an idealized view of marriage that it will be the perfect fulfillment of all their dreams…that the woman will be swept off her feet by her knight in shining armor and the two will live happily ever after.

Months and months are spent planning a wedding, working on all the intricate details, but what is usually left out of the equation is what happens when the Honeymoon’s over (literally).

  • How will we raise the kids, will someone stay home?
  • Who will manage the checkbook/finances?
  • How will we handle conflict? Etc.

When you think about this, it is absolutely insane, planning for months for one day but giving little thought for the future.  We have all done it, whether consciously or unconsciously, we all came into marriage with expectations.  The lesson made this point,    

“Expectations are powerful. When they are unmet, they lead to disappointment, frustration and often anger.” 

Proverbs 13:12 (ESV) says,

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”

That is so true!!  What else is true is the point that,

“When you’re disappointed or frustrated, you may stop giving your spouse the benefit of the doubt.”

“When you are angry, small disagreements can escalate, and you can begin to believe the worst about your spouse. You may begin to think that they are doing (or not doing) things out of spite.”

Like not taking out the garbage, this is an easy shot since I miss that mid-week pick up all the time!

“Unmet expectations lead to negative emotions, and these negative emotions are the soil from which bitterness and anger grow.”

In the book, they talked about “How to Handle Expectations.”

  1. Identify Your Expectations.

“Most of the time, you don’t realize the source of your expectations. Your expectations about life and marriage or formed from a variety of sources like family, friends, church, books, movies and television.”

Ask yourself, “Where does this expectation come from?” And “Is this expectation reasonable?”

  1. Communicate Beforehand.

“Remember, expectations are clear in your mind, but need to be communicated so that they will be clear in your spouse’s mind.”

Your spouse is not a mind reader.

  1. Believe the best.

“If your expectations are met, don’t let it negatively affect how you view your spouse and marriage. Give your spouse the benefit of the doubt, and be gracious and kind.”

“Relate to them the way you hope they will relate to you the next time you don’t meet their expectations.”  Remember “The Golden Rule”

  1. Communicate with God.

“Because your spouse is human, they will disappoint you and let you down. God is the only one who does not disappoint. When your hopes are placed on Him, you will not be disappointed or let down.”

Which one of these do you struggle with?  My favorite quote from the lesson is the “The Great Irony”…

“Just as your spouse is a source of unmet expectations, remember that you are the source of unmet expectations for them. This levels the playing field and reminds you that you need to be gracious and forgiving.”

“The temptation is to focus on the fact that your spouse did not meet your expectations and blame them for your reaction.”

The book reiterates this over and over, the key is to draw the circle around you and work on changing everyone inside that circle.  You cannot change your spouse; Only God can…so we need to stop trying!!

“Regardless of the circumstances, you are responsible for the way you handle your negative emotions. Therefore, the proper response is not to focus on what your spouse did or did not do, but rather how you can best honor God in the midst of your unmet expectations.”

If you would like to read the next installment in the re|engage class, click here★ Re|Engage – Understand ★

If you want to read previous re|engage lessons click here…

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★ Thought for the Day – Who Are You Imitating? ★

You have heard the expression before that,

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”  Charles Caleb Colton 

I have tried telling my daughter that when her sister is echoing everything that she does but to no avail…hahaha!  But whether we realize it or not, we are imitating someone…it could be the latest pop sensation, or a Hollywood movie star, or the newest offering from the fashion runway…We are continually influenced by the culture around us. The question of the day is…Who is that?  And to further the thought…Is it good for us?  1 Corinthians 15:33 (NIV1984) says,

“Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.””

This is a principle that I have tried to pour into my daughters’ spirit throughout their lives.  That they need to decide now whether they will be a leader or a follower?  I love this quote from Tom Lane,

77 - Daily Dependence - Leader or Follower
“You’re either an influencer or you’re being influenced.”

The people you surround yourself with WILL, NOT MAYBE, influence you to go down one of two paths, the one that leads to destruction or the one that leads to life.  77 - The Path to Life or DestructionToo dramatic?  Maybe, but also true nonetheless.  Experience has taught me that if you don’t set standards up beforehand of the people you will associate with, when the time of decision comes whether to take that first sip of alcohol as a teenager or that first experimentation with illegal drugs, you will be in no position to make the right choice. It is hard enough to resist temptation but when you surround yourself with the wrong people, compromise will always follow.  Perry Noble made this great statement,

“The first step away from God is always a small one.”

I can vouch that this is the truth!  I learned this lesson the hard way as I failed in both areas and was trapped in a downward spiral of self-destructive behavior involving alcohol and drugs.  Jesus referred to the two possible paths or gates in Matthew 7:13-14 (ESV)…

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

I barreled through that wide gate and spent so much time on the wide path to destruction, but let my hindsight be your foresight…Who you hang out with is critical!!  Ephesians 5:1-2 (HCSB) gives us the direction to follow,

“Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children. And walk in love, as the Messiah [Jesus Christ] also loved us and gave Himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.”
“Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children. And walk in love, as the Messiah [Jesus Christ] also loved us and gave Himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.”

“Be imitators of God.”  Not really a bumper sticker you see is it?  But imitating God, being more like Jesus Christ, and less like the world around us will keep us of the path that will lead to life.  I love this image of a son imitating his father moving the lawn. The same is true with Jesus.  When He was here on earth, Jesus continually said that He does only what He has has seen His Father doing.  One reference (out of many), is found in John 5:19 (NLT)…

“I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by Himself. He does only what He sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does.”

Jesus Himself imitated God the Father and so should we.  Let’s look back at the last portion of verse 2 of Ephesians 5…Jesus “gave Himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.”  Could there be something in sacrifice that could unlock the key to happiness?

One of the most famous Kings of all time was Solomon. Son of King David, Solomon is known for being the wisest man who has ever lived…but do you know how that came to be?  It wasn’t from any human effort of exhaustive learning, but from an act of humility and reverence to God.  At the beginning of his reign as King of Isreal, Solomon had presented an extravagant offering to God.  1 Kings 3:5 (NLT) says,

“That night the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream, and God said, “What do you want?  Ask, and I will give it to you!””

Stop…What would your answer be?  Money, power, fame, you fill in the blank ______.  My guess it would be something that would bring happiness to your life right?  I am no different, I highly doubt it would not have been so selfless as Solomon’s…1 Kings 3:7-9 (NLT) records his answer,

“Now, O LORD my God, you have made me king instead of my father, David, but I am like a little child who doesn’t know his way around.  And here I am in the midst of your own chosen people, a nation so great and numerous they cannot be counted!  Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong.  For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?” 

Wow!!  That is amazing!  What an example for us today!  How many of us would like to be presented with a “blank check” like that from God?!  How many of us would answer like Solomon with such humility and self-awareness of his shortcomings?   Look at the result in 1 Kings 3:10-14 (NLT).

“The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom. So God replied, “Because you have asked for wisdom in governing my people with justice and have not asked for a long life or wealth or the death of your enemies— I will give you what you asked for! I will give you a wise and understanding heart such as no one else has had or ever will have! And I will also give you what you did not ask for—riches and fame! No other king in all the world will be compared to you for the rest of your life! And if you follow me and obey my decrees and my commands as your father, David, did, I will give you a long life.” 

If we get our priorities right, God’s favor and blessing will follow!  And once that happens who knows where God will take you?  You and I know about the wisdom of Solomon as a result of his humility and obedience, or you could say his imitation of God.  Now as you read 1 Kings, Solomon made his fair share of mistakes but by all accounts Solomon was a world changer!  Lysa TerKeurst said in her book, ‪”The Best Yes”…

77 - Daily Dependence - Lysa TerKeurs - Humility“Humility opens the door of opportunity. In hard conversations, if I truly want to be heard I must humbly approach the conversation.” 

Like Solomon, to be a world changer, humility is key!  Even though he was king, Solomon realized his need for wisdom to govern the people and look at the opportunities that followed!  If we want to be on the path of life, to be a positive influence to the people around us, our friends, our spouse and/or children…to be a world changer, then we must make sure that we are imitating the “One” who created everything and approach people in humility!  When you do, your happiness will not come through imitating culture, but through service to the One person that really matters, Jesus Christ!

I will close with this last thought from Marty Collier,

"The path to happiness is holiness." 
“The pathway to happiness is holiness.”

When you imitate God, you will be on the path of life which will lead to holiness and will bring you far more happiness than anything else in the world!

If you would like to read more on this topic, here is something I posted that you may like, called:

 

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