Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Changing Expectations

Last month, right around Valentine's Day, I found myself with an empty house and a mountain of clean laundry, so I sat down to watch some TV while I folded clothes.  There wasn't much on that was worth watching that day, but I landed on the movie Fireproof that was airing on one of the inspirational channels.  I had seen it before, and despite it's less than stellar acting, I enjoyed watching it again.  I think it has a pretty strong message that most married couples probably need to hear once in a while.

In case you haven't seen it before, here's a quick summary: Caleb and his wife, Catherine, have drifted apart and have both given up on their marriage.  In fact, Catherine has filed for divorce.  Caleb's father, a Christian, gives him a book called "The Love Dare," which gives him daily assignments that should rebuild the love and commitment that has disappeared from the marriage.  Caleb works through the book in an attempt to win his wife back and save his marriage. 

What struck me as I watched it this time was the scene where Caleb fixes a beautiful candlelight dinner for Catherine.  You can tell that Caleb is finally really trying to win her back and has put some honest effort into this dinner.  But when Catherine comes home and sees all that he's done, she just storms off in disgust.  Caleb is crushed, infuriated, and ready to give up.  I really felt rather sorry for him.

What I started thinking about was that while Caleb had committed himself to changing and becoming the kind of husband that God wanted him to be, Catherine had no clue what was going on.  The Caleb that she knew was selfish, self-centered, violent, and...well...pretty much a big jerk.  For all she knew, this new attention from her husband was just an attempt to sweeten his side of the deal in the divorce.  Her experience with her husband had taught Catherine not to expect anything other than selfish behavior from him.

And then I started thinking about real life, and about how our experiences shape our own expectations.  Maybe one day you find your husband elbow-deep in dishwater, scrubbing away at the dishes.  Until then, he's always left them for you or complained that the dishes are never done.  And so you assume that the only reason he's washing dishes is that he got tired of waiting on you.  (As if you had been sitting on the couch all day eating chocolate and reading romance novels!)  So you unload on him about how hard you work all day and how he should just appreciate you more.

Or maybe you're used to a husband whose only understanding of affection involves you taking care of him in the bedroom, and after you finally get the kids to bed he offers you a massage.  I mean, really, that can only mean one thing, right?  And can he seriously think you're interested in that after the day you've just had?  And so you tell him exactly what he can do with his massage. Your husband is probably left feeling defeated, ready to give up before he ever really got started.  

What about the times when it's us -- the wives -- who have decided to change?  Like maybe we've decided to be more available to him in the bedroom, so we spend a little extra time getting ready before bed.  By the time we slip in next to him, ready to put the moves on, he's already sawing logs.  Frustrated, we want to just give up.

I guess the point I want to make is this: change takes time, and it may take even longer for the people around you to adjust to that change.  Don't give up trying when they don't respond immediately.  Be patient, and keep pressing on.  Consistency is one of the best ways to prove to someone that your change is genuine.  And don't forget to communicate!  Yes, it is fun to surprise your husband or wife once in a while, but if you don't communicate your intentions, you might end up being the one surprised when they don't react the way you expect them to.

I leave you with this thought from Galatians 6:9. While I doubt it was originally written with marriage in mind, it is so very appropriate as we work to make our marriage relationships look the way God intended them to.   
 So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.


  1. This is so profound and thought-provoking, Angela. I remember that part in the movie but haven't stopped to lay it up against the expectations that I have day in and out with my hubby. It's very revealing and penetrating--certainly a great challenge to be patient with the changes I want to see in my mate. Thanks for linking this up with Wedded Wed too. It's one that I think will certainly bless those who read it! Great job!

  2. Great thoughts on change and perseverance. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Thank you, Scott. And thank you for sharing the address of your blog!

  4. This was a very good post, with a much needed message. I have not seen Fireproof but have heard good things about its message, but like you bad news about its acting :)

    Thank you for reminding me about priorities in marriage and for linking up at Tending The Home Tuesdays at Road to 31!


One-sided conversations are no fun. Post a comment and let's talk!