Is it Wrong to Long for MORE in Your Marriage?
I have a dear friend whose mother is mentally ill. The verbal assaults and criticisms my friend endures not only surprise but sadden me. When asked about it, however, my friend has an interesting response: “I know how she is. Her words don’t really hurt me, because she doesn’t know any better. Yes, I wish things were different and yes, I want more, but I can’t have that, so I just need to remember what I’m dealing with and not take her behavior personally.”
One of my kids has a super-soft spot in the heart for children with special needs of any kind. The gentleness, care, and compassion overflow for these special little people. When dealing with a sibling, however, there are times when one could wonder if compassion existed anywhere in this kid’s heart. When I asked about this, the answer returned that sibling “should know better,” whereas the special needs kids were just doing their best.
I find these things interesting.
As we launch into doing The Respect Dare together, and as the January Ecourse gets ready to start on Monday, before we even get started, yesterday we briefly considered our motives.
And I know I upset a few folks yesterday, and I’m sorry, but it is a question worth asking. “Are we obeying God’s Word because we want to fulfill the purpose of our lives, to glorify Him, or because we’re trying to purchase affection, or make our lives work?”
And you need to know there’s more to it than that.
Yes, we need to have the right motives. Yes, we need to be obeying God, learning to respect our husband because it is the right thing to do (even if it DOES change a marriage for the better in most cases). Ephesians 5:33 is clear – unless, of course, you don’t believe the Bible is a solid source of direction for our lives.
And yes, we need to have the correct expectations of ourselves and our husband (or a mentally ill mother) as in, not expect them to respond positively, not try to purchase affection, but rather expect him to be where he is in his journey with the Father – and leave it up to the two of them to sort it out.
I want to talk for a moment about hope.
1 Peter 3:1-6 talks in depth about putting our hope in God. The women in history who did this were beautiful to Him. And their husbands, whether believers who didn’t follow, or unbelievers, were won over by their gentle and quiet spirit.
These are women who spoke the Truth in love (which just to be clear, means your heart and motives are in the right place – there’s no pride, no intent to hurt, no bitterness or resentment – that’s how you can tell).
They didn’t lie, but they also built their husband up, encouraged him, appreciated him, respected him.
And they had hope – in what God would do, in His timing.
The bottom line is that it is healthy to hope, as long as your hope is in the right thing. It is healthy to want more for your marriage, for your husband, for yourself. This is different than having impure motives, or unreasonable expectations.
The sanctification process includes a “holy discontent” with sin in ourselves – and in our relationships. So know it is okay to want more, to long for health in your marriage, your husband, your parenting, in all your relationships, actually. But this is different from having expectations of other people’s behaviors, or attempts to control or manipulate, and health in terms of our relationships is discussed in Titus 2 – which, coincidentally, is also the chapter where older women are encouraged to teach the younger women how to love (friendship-style) their husbands!
Does this make sense?
I’m eager to get started.
Dare you to join us here by subscribing to the blog, especially if you are doing the dares with a group of women! Double dog dare you to share what He’s teaching YOU about expectations, hope, and motives in the comment section below, today.
Glad you are on the journey with us.
Love to you,
Just got around to reading this post… Wow, God’s timing is so perfect! I have spent much of the day in prayer talking to God about two things weighing heavy on my heart lately: A deep sadness over essentially no spiritual connection whatsoever with my husband, and how to find contentment with someone who has developed a different philosophy than mine about what are the most important things in life. We have a good marriage, but it grieves me because I know it could be so much more!!! I used to be angry, judgmental, self-righteous, even occasionally confrontational toward my husband over this. But through the Respect/Biblical submission teaching I have followed for the last year, I have identified and am working on my own sin in this area. Today as I poured my heart out to The Lord, He gave me Psalm 63, which helped me see that my heart is really thirsting for a connection to Him, together with my husband. But I don’t have to wait on my husband to have that. He can satisfy my longing, even if my marriage feels dry. His love is better than life! When I take refuge under His wings, meditate on His word, cling to Him, speak His praise with my lips, the lies of the evil one speaking discontentment to my heart will be silenced. I hope for more in my marriage, I pray for more. But I wait with joyful anticipation, leaving it to The Lord to work it out in His way and His time. This is a huge change in mindset for me! Nina, your words added confirmation and were just what I needed to hear today. Thank you for your obedience to His call. You are such a blessing!
Seeing your words and those of other women of faith in the same battle as I am in is a comfort.. not that I want others to suffer, just to know that I am not alone in my stuggles.
Remember, you will fail from time to time with showing respect to your husband.. don’t beat yourself up about it. Apologize to him and to God and move on. What I have learned is that no matter how underserving of respect I think my husband is at the moment does not matter. GOd has given me the task of UNCONDITIONAL RESPECT. I still fail too.. especially when my hormones and emotions are in a flare! Some times the best way I can show respect is by just being silent. THEN I pray pray pray!! My husband’s behavior affects me less when I can be silent and pray. AND 80% of the time I see a different attitude from my husband later. He appreciates my new respect (though he doesn’t tell me, I can feel it) and his behavior is SLOWLY begining to change. BUT even if he NEVER changes, its ok, because I have GOd
A person who judges you is NOT living a truly christian way. It is not our place to judge one another. Not all situations are the same and no one knows what you are up against accept you and God.
I truly hope you feel safe here to express what is on your heart. Part of why I do not attend a church regularly is the judgement I feel from other humans for my situation. I am learning (slowly) to not let others dictate what I am or do with my life. My councelor suggested a wonderful book you may find interesting.. its called “The Four Agreements”. THe very first one is about what it really means to be impecible with your word/words. Check it out!
I got informed about a reply and another post but when I go to the blog I just see Heidi’s and my answer to the blog…Is that just my computer or is something wrong?
Submitting my question it opended and now I can read all =)
I have come to the conclusion that:
1. Yes, basically I agree with what you say, Nina.
I have tried for years and I have learned a lot. In the last year I left my home and went to a country far away to safe our family. But over the course of that year I realized that:
2. Sometimes it is not possible to live that way. And then one has to decide to stay and die (emotionally or even physiclally) or to leave and live.
I decided to leave. And it breaks my heart, but if I had stayed I would have destroyed not only me but also my kids because they suffered seeing me fall apart and giving up on life.
I believe that there are moments where it is harmful staying in a marriage. People are different. Not everyone can handle the same things the same way. Many christians wanted to judge me for giving up. But I know that I did the correct thing. I am not a cactus. I am a delicate exotic plant and I need other care than a cactus.
Wow! I’ve been in a place searching for what is best with, perhaps, circumstances quite similar to yours… I’ve been in this place for the past two or three years. These past few days, specifically, have sent me back to where I was before… wondering what’s REALLY best. I was strongly encouraged by Nina’s post and the idea of hoping again… and then I read your comment and it kept things in perspective. It’s hard for me to be in the place because I don’t ever know what’s *really* right. Or is there anything that is right? I don’t know. My heart aches for what you have gone through and that you had to leave… but I am grateful that you have peace and know that it was what was best. I pray that God will continue to open your heart to Him and that, as you do that, your heart will be healed and whole again. God is forever faithful. He knows your heart and why you’ve chosen to do what you did… and I believe, with all of my heart, that THAT is what you will be judged on when the time comes… your heart. Be encouraged, friend! Thank you for your transparency and sharing. It is greatly appreciated. Both, Nina’s post and your comment, were things that I needed to see today!
I certainly can’t speak for Nina but I have had a number of conversations with her regarding my situation. She has never once told me to stay or leave. She has encouraged me to press in to the Lord and to let Him work in my husband’s heart as well as my own. She has also told me that some things that are discussed here just won’t work in my situation… they can’t be the same… because of the circumstances that I have in my marriage. In some of my deepest moments of darkness, Nina has been light that has helped me continue searching and seeking for where God is calling me to be.
I am forever grateful for The Respect Dare, for the women that I have met through The Respect Dare and FaceBook pages, and for what God is doing with this ministry.
I feel like I just got an “A” – seriously. THANK YOU for taking the time to speak to this sister… and know it is Him within me that shines. 🙂 I struggle sometimes with this calling… and hearing you say I’ve never told you what to do but rather to press in to the Lord let’s me know I’m doing what I’m supposed to do. None of us know what anyone else should do in so many areas – and yet we are called to walk with each other, to encourage each other in Him, and to persevere ourselves.
So I know I just made your comment all about me, please forgive me for being self-absorbed for a moment, but you really did bless me and I just wanted you to know that.
Love to you,
Dear Nina and Leah
Thank you both!!
I feel accepted and I needed that. I love the RespectDare and I believe it is from God. Thank you, Nina for being His voice here in this place.
Many times I wanted to write a comment in the last year, but I was afraid of the reactions… Today I felt strong enough to risk it. I am still here because I am still devoted to fight for marriage in my believes. Even if mine didn’t work out.
I am thankful to God, that my post even helped you, too, Leah. My heart goes out to you and I pray for peace in your heart. His wonderful peace.
I am praying for the same for my heart and for every woman reading here.
God bless you!
You’ll not receive judgment from us, Amanda. If God led you to leave, (and we trust your relationship with Him and His Word), then you know you have our support and encouragement. I am so sorry others have judged you. You know at the end of the day what God has revealed to you. I am privileged that you are here with us even now, and thank you for continuing to be part of our community. We have a number of women who have as you say, “given up,” but I wonder if they are also women who did hard things. You are smart to be safe and smart to keep your kids safe. If your husband has chosen the path of sin (to not live in an understanding way with you, to not love you) then his prayers are hindered. It IS sad. But you, as a listening follower, are responsible for your kids, for protecting them. Your husband will still be held accountable for his family. I’m also not perfect, btw. 🙂 I hope to continue in my calling as a prophet of His Word, and it is our ministry’s dream to share His love, His Truth with ALL women, regardless of their demographic. I mostly speak to the married with kids folks, but we have someone who is ministering to the re-marrieds and divorced. You might find continued encouragement here: http://katys9blessings.wordpress.com/2014/01/06/71/ and I hope you’ll continue in our community. Many women will benefit from your experiences.
Love to you, Amanda.
Amanda – I hear you sister, and I too fled a place where my life was the price for staying. Praying for you as you find a safe place to heal, and for your children to grow closer to God along side you!
Nina – this is a great post. And hope is something that we can hold on to when all else seems faint and far away.
In combining what you said, and what Amanda said in her comment I would only add that hope need not be cheek-and-jowl with someone. God can move hearts across many thousands of miles and He can move hearts that beat next to yours in bed at night. We can trust Him by holding on to Godly hope, and we can trust Him to take care of moving hearts without our ‘helping’ outside of doing what we need to do and praying and being faithful.
I have prayed for His will in a reconciliation for a number of years with some family members. It is happening, slowly and not how I expected but my hope was not misplaced. Nor were my healthy prayerful boundaries. Sometimes we need to be still (Exodus 14:14) and sometimes we need to circle round, sing, dance, pray and fight.
As far as expectations, when someone is doing their best and it falls short to me it becomes my challenge to deal with my expectations. When someone doesn’t want to try, or does the minimum and expects you to be happy with it because “well you are a Christian aren’t you?” or “this is all I think our relationship is worth” then I believe you can withdraw to a safe place, pray for them and do what God needs to you do while He works.
It’s a good place to be, here at the RespectDare.
🙂 Shanyn. 🙂
I love this Nina. It is very helpful, that part about what your friend said about her mother as well as your kids. It really puts things in perspective. I have had some unrealistic expectations of some very close relationships in my life and this is a great help. I am choosing this year to put my hope/trust in God alone and what He can do according to His purpose for me and my life. I have attempted to do the “Respect Dare” twice in the past and gave up half way through. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to complete it. I am excited to see that you are starting it online Monday. Does that mean you will post every day on this blog, something relating to that days dare? Thank you! Heidi
SO glad you are here! 🙂 That notion really DOES put things in perspective, doesn’t it? That we can have healthy expectations for the mentally ill or those with special needs – yet not realize that we are all broken, imperfect people in some of our relationships… I am still pursuing that level of health in all my relationships as well! 🙂 I’m so glad you will be joining us – the ecourse has consistent, regular content daily. I am just doing whatever God leads me to do with this, probably a few posts a week about related issues to the journey. They’ll coincide with the book and ecourse journey, but maybe not directly. I wish I could blog every day! 🙂
Love to you, beautiful.
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