Trick Questions and Expectations in Marriage

Trick questions can be…well…tricky. For instance, how would you answer this question:

“Have you stopped beating your spouse?”

Answering this question is tricky, because if you agree, it sounds like you use to beat your spouse. If you disagree, it sounds like your still beating your spouse.

Watch out for the trick questions. 

When I do premarital counseling, I often ask a couple to complete an inventory where they respond to a variety of statements on a continuum between “strongly agree” and strongly disagree. Some of my favorite statements to which they must respond are statements like:

  • I have never regretted my relationship with my partner.
  • My partner gives me all the love and affection I need.
  • We completely understand each other.
  • My partner has all the qualities I’ve ever wanted in a mate.
  • We are as happy as a couple can be.

A couple preparing to get married will usually agree with these statements, but a couple that’s been married for a while will usually laugh at these statements. The difference is the couple preparing for marriage is in LOVE, where as the couple that’s been married for a while are in LIFE.

It’s all about your expectations. 

There’s always a difference between our expectations and our experience. When we’re preparing for marriage, we have all kinds of optimistic expectations about how marriage should be. Remember those? Sleeping in. Leisurely sharing a cup of coffee together before starting your day. Always having your spouse’s attention and affection. Sharing the same interest in sex. Always having control of the remote. Having the same goals and plans. Spending your spare time together. The list goes on and on.

But after you’ve been married a while, those expectations aren’t always met, and you begin to struggle. So you attempt to get your expectations met. You start off by trying to talk to your spouse and explain why you need them to meet your expectations. If repeated attempts to communicate don’t get you anywhere, then you’re generally left with three options…

  • Manipulate or make demands to get your spouse to meet your expectations. This increases frustration, raises defensiveness, and tends to make marriage worse.
  • Leave your spouse for someone else whom you think will meet those expectation. This will bring an end to what could be a perfectly good marriage…not to mention the fact that no one will ever meet all your expectations.
  • Adjust your expectations to something more realistic. This will help you both relax and have a marriage that will go the distance.

Adjust your expectations.

Adjusting your expectations in marriage will actually teach you some valuable lessons…

  • You don’t have to like everything about your spouse, or your relationship with them, to have a good relationship.
  • You won’t always get the love and affection you think you need, but that doesn’t mean you’re not loved.
  • You don’t have to completely understand one another to completely love and support one another.
  • Your spouse doesn’t have to have all the qualities you want in a mate. (That person doesn’t exist.) But they have enough of those qualities to make it work.
  • The two of you could always be happier, but that doesn’t mean your not happy.

These are critical lessons for a long and loving marriage, but you can only learn these lessons by adjusting your expectations.

Don’t fall for the trick questions in marriage. Marriage is not about the two of you getting every expectation met. It’s about figuring out which of your expectations are realistic and which are not. It’s also about the two of you meeting as many of each other’s expectations as you can, while leaving room for you to be yourselves.

What is one expectation you have for your spouse and your marriage that…if you were honest…is probably not realistic? Which of the five lessons do you most need to learn? What’s one thing you can do to let go of an expectation and be happier?

Copyright © 2018 Bret Legg

A Seemingly Absent and Questionable God.

For some, their sexual abuse becomes their reason for rejecting the idea of a loving and powerful God. But for those victims who continue to believe in a God who is all-seeing, all-loving and all-powerful, the experience of sexual abuse raises some deep and difficult questions. Questions like:

  • Where was God when I was being abused?
  • Why didn’t God intervene and stop the abuse?
  • What kind of God would let this happen?
  • Does God even care?

At the outset, let me say I don’t have the answers to these questions. I don’t know why God didn’t intervene and prevent your abuse. As a minister, I still wrestle with such questions each time I work with a sexual abuse survivor.

It is beyond the scope of this post to decipher these deep theological questions, and even if I had the “right” answers, those answers would not feel sufficient, because they wouldn’t change your history or your hurt. These questions about God reveal a heart looking for solace more than a head looking for answers.

What I do know is that for some reason, God gives people (including you) the freedom to make decisions and act in ways that can be hurtful to themselves and others.

It doesn’t seem right that God would give an abuser the freedom to choose to abuse someone else. It feels Like God should have taken away the abuser’s  freedom and forced them to do what was right.

But, would you want God to take away your freedom and force you to do what you should do? If your old protective behaviors are hurting others emotionally, do you want God to force you to do what you should do? Victims often believe that God should have taken from their abuser the very thing they would never want taken from themselves – the freedom to choose what they’re going to do…even if it’s not the best for them or others.

I don’t know why God allows people the freedom to hurt and abuse others, but I know that God promises to be with us in the hurt and to give us the ability to reshape it into something better. That may seem a day late and a dollar short, but think about it. Any old run-of-the-mill god should be able to snap their fingers and make all the bad things go away. This requires no commitment and no relationship. It just requires a flex of muscle. But a God who is so committed to us that He comes to us in the midst of our hurt, walks with us through the tragedy of our life, and then brings us to a better place in spite of our hurt…this is a God who is worth our attention and trust.

You may not believe this or even like this line of reasoning, but that is the message of the incarnation of Jesus. A God who could have flexed his muscles and made everything the way he wanted it (like an abuser), instead comes to a broken world, is mistreated and broken right along with the rest of us, and in that brokenness offers us hope. He does this, not by waving his hand and making the situation better, but by walking with us in the midst of the brokenness and making us better.

Why Did This Have To Happen?

Statue Of Women On TombHow can someone be here one minute and gone the next?  How can life be going so well and then come undone?  How can I feel fine one day and get this diagnosis the next?  How can I buy a home and then find out later they’re doing away with my job?  Why did this have to happen?

If you’ve ever experienced life threatening news, you know these questions.   You’ve asked these questions.  You’ve looked for answers to these questions.  Maybe you’re still looking for answers.

All you want to know is, “Why did this have to happen?”

Read moreWhy Did This Have To Happen?