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My Expectation-Free Marriage

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak to a group of women about expectations in marriage. Some were married, a few were engaged, but most were single.

I had to admit to them that I had very few expectations when I got married. I had never been the girl who dreamed about being a wife or having a husband. I knew what marriage looked like when I was growing up and was certain I wanted no part.

So, I imagine that when it came time for me to say “I do,” I had been so set free by God from my former ideas about matrimony that I was essentially a clean slate. Can you imagine? A bride with no expectations?

Well, it should go without saying that being an expectation-free wife had a huge impact on my marriage and not in the way you might think.

I knew I had married a good man, but I could never have known how good until I was forced to spend every waking minute with him. Marriage suddenly strips away distance, time, and a fair amount of infatuation.

Whereas I once saw Jonathan through the filter of dating, which only allows us to view a person through snippets and carved out chunks of time, now I was living alongside of him day-in and day-out. Nothing allows you to see a person for who they really are…or are not, like marriage can.

Picture me as a brand new bride, in love and bursting with the promises of a new life together completely expectation-less. And let me tell ya, it was awesome.

My lack of expectations allowed me to enjoy my husband (and thus my marriage) for who he is and not who I think he should have been. I didn’t wake each morning grumbling under my breath because he didn’t wash the dishes the night before or make me breakfast in bed (I mean, I know there are some women who daydream about eggs Benedict in bed).

Instead, I awoke each morning filled with gratitude for the man that I had right in front of me–imperfect and yet perfect for me. Expectation-free. Able to enjoy and give thanks, appreciate and just be.

And this is what I shared with the group of women I speaking to–how letting go of expectations allows room for another, critical and vital attitude to take shape, gratitude.

When our expectations, however small, are not met, we will inevitably feel disappointed. But, when we surrender those expectations, we are automatically in a place to give thanks instead. Gratitude has room to grow when expectations are put aside.

Because if I expected my husband to call me every afternoon, write me love notes, wine and dine me well then, I’d be less apt to feel thankful for when he did. If I expected nothing less than for him to love me then I’d pretty much always be satisfied.

Whereas I once saw the institution of marriage as a sham, a piece of paper that hold no significance. Now, I was watching the love God has for me lived out wach day by my husband–Jonathan, my proof of God’s love.

And it was in true I’m-going-to-change-your-mind-fashion, God showed me the picture of His love for the Bride, represented when two people say they will sacrificially love one another forever. And I’m thankful that I entered into with no expectations, making room for the Holy Spirit to bring me to a place of thankfulness–where the little things matter almost more than the big.

Did you get married with expectations? Are you single, yet still hold a few expectations about marriage? In what area of life, has God most had to adjust your expectations?