Give preference to one another in honor. Romans 12:10, NASB
"I expect you to love me!"
"I expect you to listen to me when I'm speaking."
Nasty word, expect. Have you ever stopped for a minute to examine what it implies?
When we say "I expect ... ," we are basically saying that we are owed a specific kind of treatment and that it had better be coming. That way of thinking has permeated our society today. Our world is filled with messages of entitlement, and these messages do great harm to our marriages.
Intimacy and expectations are mutually exclusive concepts. By that I (David) mean that when we get what we expect, we end up not appreciating it. After all, why should we appreciate what we believe is due us? On the other hand, when our spouse doesn't do what we expect, we get angry and try to make him or her pay.
Let me suggest an alternative to expectations: communicating your needs. When you talk to your spouse, talk about what you need and not what you expect. That will go a long way toward getting your spouse to meet your needs. After all, "Honey, I need some quality time with you" is a lot easier to hear than "I expect you to be home more."
Matthew 10:8 reminds us of God's way: "Freely you have received, freely give." This grace—the unmerited, unearned favor from God—we have received motivates us to give to our spouses without feeling entitled to anything in return. Abundance in marriage hinges on our never getting over the wonder that we've received unbounded grace and limitless love, which prompts grateful giving to the needs of another.
We dishonor our spouses when we present expectations to them, but we honor them by humbly presenting to them our needs.
What expectations of your spouse do you need to let go of today?
God, help me to honor my spouse by humbly presenting my needs.