You start dating a guy. You expect him to take you out to a certain kind of restaurant. You expect him to be romantic. You expect to meet his family. You can see yourself marrying him. You expect he’s on the same page. You expect him to read your mind, ask your girlfriends, get the perfect ring. You expect him to propose in Italy. No you don’t. Yes you do. You expect him to know he better not propose after those other people got engaged in Italy. You expect him to ask any day now. You have a chat and expect to wait. You expect to wait a while. You expect to be witty and beautiful when he asks. You expect to plan and DIY and have the awesomest wedding of 2010. You expect to find a hall and a church and have no problems with the planning. You expect to choose pink and gerbera daisies. You expect to dance and party and have delicious cupcakes. You expect to be perfect housekeeper and work full time. You expect marriage to be easy and fun every day. You expect the babies to just wait to come until you’re exactly perfectly ready to be a parent. You expect the money to go longer than the month. You expect birthdays and anniversaries to be a big deal. You expect weekends to be pancakes and cuddling and cute couples grocery shopping. You expect to be a phenomenal cook and juggler of all things. You expect every day to be easy and beautiful and yea, you heard marriage is hard but, come on, you expect it to not be too bad because well, you did what you were supposed to do to get ready.
That simple paragraph is the summation of about three years with my husband. The three years I knew him before I did The Respect Dare for the first time. These were my thoughts and the expectations I had for the day-to-day. For the life we were building. For the marriage we were building. Are building.
I don’t think I ever realized all of those unspoken expectations or the impact they were having on the life we have together. But I was sabotaging, destroying the house we were building. (Proverbs 14:1 The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.)
Right, you think I’m being dramatic. Well let me go back and tell you what I was ruining in the opening paragraph.
Those “certain kind of restaurants” – Perkins for pancakes and making snow angels after is better than all of that.
And his family – is not like yours, and that’s ok because it is big and beautiful, and loud, and loving.
The conversation where he tells you that he knows he will marry you he just wants to pray and know when so he can know he’s ready and it’s a commitment he’s ready to make.
The ring? You can’t even express the rush of shopping. The RUSH of him telling you to go to a jewelry store as he leaves the country for 5 weeks.
And the proposal – really, truly believing that it won’t be for a while and then, all of the sudden, you are crying and not remembering to actually say “yes” and all you can fumble out is “yeah” and wanting to remember every word he said and so thankful that he is how he is and wrote it all down.
Wedding planning takes a crazy direction from four hours away and he wants to help more than you ever thought and pink turns to green and gerbera daisies turn to tulips and appetizers turn to a sit down dinner.
And work gets in the way and weekends are spent playing catch up and scrubbing week old dishes and taking the best Sunday afternoon naps.
It’s the day before Christmas break from your 2nd year of teaching and your first year of marriage and you get to walk through the downtown Christmas lights and tell him that you’re pregnant with who will be just the most amazing little girl.
And it’s hard – o my goodness so hard to have the right motives and speak with respect and think of interesting meals and keeping the house and folding the laundry and him working and not sleeping and everything you do to get through a day let alone a week or a month or a life.
And there it is, in an instant, and every single day, that life you expected, is gone.
I will be the first one to admit, hands down, that expectations get in the way of enjoying what is actually happening in your life. I mean it. Every minute that I spent planning the perfect proposal in my head or getting my hopes up over a certain celebration for my birthday took away from being involved with what was actually happening in those moments. I got mad about things that hadn’t even happened. I got excited about things that were never going to happen. I had conversations in my head instead of with my husband.
And all the expectations I have for my birthday or for what time I think he needs to wake up – how someone ELSE is SUPPOSED to act – all of THOSE expectations take away from joy.
(What about receiving love like he gives it? Why don’t you read this post.)
Dare 1 – we release our expectations of other people. I have to be willing to release the expectations I have for my husband. It is really not fair to expect him to read my mind. I can’t read his mind. Yes, I know him pretty well. Yes, in general I can guess some things to do to make him happy or to speak to him through his love language. But I cannot read his mind. And he cannot read mine.
If I really want something and it’s on my heart, I can and should tell him about it. If the baby had me up all night and I need a nap, he’s not going to read my mind. He might be able to see that I’m tired. He might suggest I take a nap if I have time (which I never do). But he will not know when I have nothing left to give and need to lay down. I have to tell him that.
And in other situations, like on my birthday, I have found that it can so freeing to just wait and see how he decides to celebrate it. I don’t decide in advance the best way – I just let it happen and remember that I can plan his birthday and the kids’ birthdays.
This is not easy – to let go of expectations. For many of us, it’s an issue of control. For some of us, the issues are bigger than birthday celebrations and taking naps. It’s not easy. It’s really not easy to realize we are having expectations and that some of them aren’t realistic. Some of them are but we need to speak them. That this is a journey. That the first time through The Respect Dare your expectations will look different than the expectations the second, third, or even the fourth time through.
Are you seeing what I am saying?
It’s a journey. We still have expectations to give up. I still have expectations to give up.
At the core of these expectations is that if we do this – if we respect our husbands, what if he never loves us back the way we want? What if I give up control and it goes to heck in a hand basket? What if? What if?
I want to encourage you, dear sister, starting out on this incredibly beautiful and hard journey which will change your heart in ways you never expected….
This is one of the dares you will come back to time and time again. Expectations form in our minds sometimes before we even realize it.
But I encourage you, take it to the Lord. Pray and ask God to work on your heart.
Because sometimes the ‘stuff’ that happens outside of our expectations – that’s the most beautiful stuff. That’s the stuff that makes our life busy, and blessed, and crazy, and full, and beyond messy and gorgeous.
I dare you to think of some expectations you have on a daily basis for you husband. Be thinking about what really matters and what you could give up. Look at this as a journey – for right now, God might be asking you to just let go and teaching you along the way how to communicate.
Would you share what you need to communicate and what you are ready to let go.
So excited to get started with you ladies on this incredible journey!
So, we’re blogging our way through The Respect Dare as a team. We’ll do a dare a week. Who is we? Nina Roesner, author of The Respect Dare and Debbie Hitchock, blogging for parents of Teens, Tweens, and Twenty-Somethings.