Lies Women Believe About Marriage
Day 1: Expectations in Marriage (Part 2 of 2)
Lie #21: “I have to have a husband to be happy.”
Yesterday, in way of introduction, we talked about the danger of expecting a boyfriend or husband to satisfy you and make you happy. We learned that the purpose of our relationships is the glory of God, not our own personal satisfaction, and therefore, we are to give in our relationships, not take. And the only way for us to be givers is to find all that we want, desire, and need in our relationship with Jesus Christ.
Making God your portion is not a simple, easy, or passive thing – it requires commitment, determination, and persistence. It’s also not a one-shot deal. It is something you must continually choose to do, or else you will quickly revert back to your natural instinct to take from others and expect them to satisfy you or make you happy. This is true not just of marriage but of any relationship we may have.
Unfortunately, as lies do tend to do, this one also multiplies. When we believe that we need a person (and usually it’s not a particular person, any one will do), we easily fall into the next lie, which is that it is that person’s job to make us happy. Sound the same? That’s why it’s dangerous. It’s a small step from “I need guy to make happy” to “It’s my boyfriend/husband’s job to make me happy.” And then it’s even easier to step right on over to, “My husband failed me and now I must punish/leave/find someone else.”
No one begins a relationship or marriage planning to destroy it, yet it happens. How? Idolatry. It starts with expecting the relationship and the person to satisfy you. Unfortunately, people fail us because… they’re human. How we respond when people fail us reveals our idolatry. If we sin because they failed us, we have an idol. If we sin in order to manipulate them to please us, we have an idol. And of course, if this person is our comfort and refuge from life, we have an idol. Here’s the most shocking part: The idol we’re really worshiping is not the person – we’re simply using them to worship ourselves.
The nature of idolatry is manipulation. We’ve talked before about manipulation, but let’s look again at at how this plays out in relationships:
STEP ONE: DESIRE
The issues that create frustration, anger, bitterness, and ultimately, broken relationships, are not earth-shattering events that suddenly strike. They always start with a simple, relatively small desire. The desire is based on something we don’t have that we want – therefore, it is a temptation.
There are two potential responses to our desires. One is to bring them to God, surrender, and trust Him to satisfy us first, and then let Him give us our desires if they’re right, or leave them with Him if they’re not.
The second response is to begin to focus on our desire. If you’ll remember, the process of believing a lie begins with dwelling on it – which is why dwelling on our desires is so dangerous. The more we think about it, the bigger it gets. The bigger it gets, the more we convince ourselves we need it.
STEP TWO: NEED.
We subtly transition from “it would be nice to have this,” to “I need this.” We’re really quite good at coming up with “reasons” why we need these things that we desire… but rarely are any of them valid. We’re simply looking for something to validate our desires to ourselves and others. Once we get it, we move to the next step.
STEP THREE: DEMAND.
Feeling that our need is valid and justified, we begin to demand it. We demand it for ourselves from those around us. Unfortunately, many times the demand is not actually communicated. Instead we try to “drop hints” that, realistically, no one would ever catch. But in our minds, we’re convinced that we have effectively communicated what we need from these people.
STEP FOUR: EXPECT.
Feeling certain that we’ve made it clear to those around us what we need, we begin to wait in expectation for them to meet our needs. And depending on how well you’ve communicated your demands, they probably will deliver. For a while. Of course, because we feel that what they’re doing for us is something we’re entitled to, deserve, and need, we rarely express gratitude, because at this point we’ve become entirely self-focused.
STEP FIVE: DISAPPOINTMENT.
Therefore, when eventually these people don’t deliver, we become disappointed. However, becasue we’ve been so invested in ourselves up to this point, so convinced that what we’re asking of people is right, just, and deserved, we feel this disappointment deeply. We become angry. How dare they fail to give us what is rightfully due to us?
STEP SIX: PUNISHMENT.
Feeling that our rights have been violated, we feel justified in punishing the person who has wronged us. Sometimes it’s the silent treatment; sometimes its an angry outburst. Regardless of the way we act out, it is for one purpose: to make them regret crossing us so that they won’t do it again. Make them suffer so that they’ll make it right. Thus we’ve set a pattern – you cross me, I’ll make you miserable. You serve me and do what I want, I’ll give you peace.
So let’s say you have a desire for your husband to make you happy by doing the dishes because you’re tired after a long day. The more you think about it, the better you like the idea; he doesn’t do enough to help you, you reason. It’s just dishes. You need a break. So you start dropping hints… but he’s also tired and had a long day, and he doesn’t catch your subtle sighs and groans, doesn’t understand the reason for your complaints. So he walks away and sits down to watch TV. Fuming, you started slamming things around the kitchen. Finally, he notices something is wrong and asks you. And you light into him, accusing him of not caring about you, being selfish and lazy. And he stands there shocked and clueless.
Does this sound familiar? Is it any wonder that so many marriages fall apart so quickly? When both parties are seeking to control the other person to get what they want, no one wins. This is idolatry in it’s clearest form. Manipulating people to get what we want. God doesn’t matter; other people’s feelings are irrelevant; only our own personal comfort and happiness matter.
Too many Christians follow this pattern. They’re miserable and frustrated and leave a trail of broken relationships behind them, clueless to their own behavior that has caused their own pain. Because idolatry and manipulation aren’t talked about nearly enough in churches today. No one seems to realize the destructive patterns they’re following. No one seems to think twice about walking all over people to make themselves feel good. Because, hey, at least they’re not drinking, being immoral, or stealing, right?
I’ve heard people say that marriage is “give-and-take.” It’s not. Divorce begins with a “give-and-take” marriage, because “give-and-take’ quickly becomes just “take.” A good, healthy, godly marriage is only “give.”
Ruth Bell Graham said, “A good marriage is made up of two good forgivers.” What is forgiveness? It’s choosing to release someone from the obligation that resulted when they hurt you. It’s about humility. It’s about laying down your rights. It’s the opposite of taking, manipulating, and controlling. It doesn’t feel good. But it is good.
It’s time to stop placing your happiness in people. Stop manipulating to get what you want. Be determined to give, bless, and encourage. Don’t look out for yourself – look out for your husband. Sound impossible? That’s what grace is for. But in order to receive God’s grace, you have to be surrendered to God’s grace.
Let go of your rights and your needs and your desires. Surrender them to God and let Him be the one who satisfies you. More than just “let” – rather, make Him satisfy you. You must be passionately determined that God become your all-in-all, the beginning and the end of you. Because if you don’t, you’ll look for that satisfaction in a man. And that man will fail you. But when you let God be God, you can let humans be human.
The purpose of marriage is not your emotional and physical well-being. It’s about glorifying God. And when you make that the priority, the emotional and physical benefits will follow. But if you reverse it, you’ll never get what you’re looking for and God certainly won’t be glorified.
It’s time to choose life.
Focus on what’s right, not what’s wrong.
Focus on others, not yourself.
Seek God, not pleasure.
Seek God, not people.
I promise you, when you put God first and let Him be the one to provide for you, you won’t be disappointed.
Key points to remember:
- The purpose of marriage is to glorify God.
- I cannot find happiness in anyone other than Christ.
- People will inevitably fail me; Jesus never will.
- Godly relationships are the result of giving 100%.
- 15 Ways to Please Your Husband (TrueWoman Blog)
- When Expectations Meet Reality (Focus on the Family)
- “I know my rights!”
- Surrender – it’s not a dirty word!
- Modern Day Idolatry
In a word: passionate. About Jesus, church, ministry, music, reading, family, friends, and sometimes even iced skinny soy mochas.