Expectation Frustration

Of all the track and field events I did in high school, high jump felt the craziest. Fortunately, cell phones didn’t exist when I was in high school, much less phones with cameras, so there is no evidence of my brief high jumping career. But in case you’ve never seen the event, here ya go. The whole idea is to see how high you can get the bar and still get over it without knocking it down.

I wasn’t great at the event, but mentally I embraced the idea of setting a high bar and going for it. I wasn’t even deterred when my knee came crashing down into my nose during practice leaving both me and the mat covered in blood. I live for high bars.

My poor husband.

When we were dating, I think he found my drive attractive. Little did he know how readily and eagerly (and with little to no awareness), I would share my high expectations with those closest to me, which is why the first message in the “What Happy Couples Know” series hit hard and true. If you missed it, check it out here. The short version is that if we’re not careful, we take all of our hopes, dreams and desires and hand them to our spouse as a set of expectations. And expectations create a debt/debtor relationship. And those kinds of relationships leave little to no room for things like gratitude and love.

Yea, so…I did that to Clark when we got married. Oops.

I didn’t know I did it. I didn’t mean to do it. But I did, hard core. I walked boldly into marriage and the rest of our lives with expectations falling nowhere short of perfection – perfect marriage, perfect kids, perfect life. Bless my heart.

One of our biggest fights happened the first day home after our honeymoon. We got back to our shiny, new apartment on Friday night and I was headed back to work at the church where I was interning on Sunday morning. Clark went back to work on Monday. So, naturally, on Saturday, I got up early and started the laundry, made a grocery list, began putting away wedding gifts, and kept checking my watch every five minutes to see exactly how long Clark was going to let me do all those things while he slept. Tick, tick, tick… By 8:30, I was boiling. (I know, you wish you could be married to a gem like me.) I tried to play it cool when I finally woke him up at 9am.

I failed. By 9:15, we were throwing laundry at each other across our one-bedroom apartment and hot tears of frustration and unmet expectations were flowing down my face. To be clear, Clark also had expectations I wasn’t meeting – crazy ones like sleeping until 9 on our first Saturday together in our newly married home and life.

We pulled it together and ended up having a fun first day of “real life” together. And in the 13 years since, we’ve made steps forward, also plenty backward, and by the grace of God (and I don’t say that flippantly), we are still married and in love, and have the privilege of continuing the growth journey together.

For me, I have to remember that I didn’t marry Clark so he could meet my expectations. I married him because I love him and made a choice to share our lives. And so, he gets to keep his box of hopes, dreams, and desires, and I get to keep my box of hopes, dreams, and desires. And ideally, we can champion each other’s hopes, dreams, and desires for many years to come!

Don’t miss the next message in the series this Sunday at Ashley Ridge Church – in person or online!

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