Angie and I, and our couples small group, are currently studying an excellent marriage series called iMarriage by Andy Stanley from Northpoint Community Church in Atlanta, GA. The study has been excellent so far, and we are fortunate to have good, close couples friends where we can open up and share our struggles - AND, be supportive to those couples who share theirs.
This past weekend's topic centered around expectations and desires. Without getting into the discussion too much, the premise was simple. When we expect something, we: 1) Aren't gracious when it occurs, 2) Become angry/frustrated/disappointed when it doesn't. Basically, expectations of our spouse are unrealistic and often unfair, and lead to conflict. The study went on to explain that we need to try and move our expectations to desires. A desire is something that we want, for sure, but; 1) Are pleased when they occur, and typically lead to demonstrations of gratitude and 2) do not lead to anger when they do not occur. I am, of course, oversimplifying but this should serve as an adequate backdrop for my story.
A couple of days ago, Angie behaved in a way that was counter to my "expectations". This led to my becoming exceedingly angry. In fact, my angry was based not only on a unfulfilled expectation, but also my interpretation of her motives (see last weeks message at Springcreek for more on this one). As I begun to power up my big guns for an attack, I remembered to topic of our study. I began to process that I was expecting Angie to act a certain way and this is why I was becoming angry. I dissected why this was the case, and was able to "move" my expectation to a desire. My anger was reduced and I was able to think more clearly. By the time Angie and I saw each other, I was able to rationally and calmly discuss it with her. In fact, we experienced a time of closeness because we were able to talk about something that we would have fought about in the past.
You see, I can tear down Angie by my anger when she doesn't meet my expectations and clearly, scripture tells us that we are to build up people with our speech, not tear them down. (See: Ephesians 4:29).
I am so glad that I've had the lesson and now my job is to continue to "move" my expectations to desires. If you and your spouse have the same difficulty, of if your spouse is continually disappointing you, perhaps the problem isn't your spouse. Check out iMarriage. It is really excellent.