My father-in-law regularly repeats a joke that used to do the macarena on my last nerve. “Your mom and I have a great relationship. Want to know the secret?” he’d ask my husband and me with a smirk. “Low expectations.”
As a woman of exceedingly high standards for myself and my relationships, I’d snort, roll my eyes, and think, “How sad!” Twenty six years of marriage and about a decade of personal soul searching have changed my view of the joke, however. My father-in-law is on to something.
I was the woman who dragged a whole train of expectations down the aisle with my white dress, and it hasn’t served me well. A long list of lies shot those expectations full of steroids.
Before I broke up with perfect, I said things to myself like “I always need to be my most perfect self.” That’s been replaced with a commitment to be my truest self. (Shaky sigh of relief.) I once truly believed that I could make the pictures of perfection in my head come to life, but now I’m content to live in the blessing of my reality. I used to measure the perfection of my marriage by holding it up to others. These days I focus on the gifts of the man that’s perfect for me instead!
Probably the worst lie I believed was this: I should help my beloved live up to his potential.
It sounded so pretty when I said it with my sweet southern accent, but the heart of the lie was rotten. I suspect I’m not the only one who bought the lie, though. You know the drill. “It’s not criticism. It’s help.” “It’s not manipulation. It’s showing him the right way to do things.” “I’m just encouraging him to have high standards, don’t you know?” Mercy.
We go into a relationship because of admiration, but somehow a growing level of commitment shifts us into improvement mode. He’s wonderful, but… He’s almost perfect, if only…
When I met my husband Barry, I was most attracted to the bold and hilarious way he spoke his mind. I love to tell people that he’s reverent about God, but everything else is fair game! Barry had this “good girl” in daily gales of laughter about the edgiest things.
Somehow the switch flipped after we married, though. He didn’t change a bit, but my attitude did. I was nervous when I didn’t know what he’d say, and I thought I could make him even more wonderful by refining his verbal filter. Needless to say, that belief wasn’t very popular.
Relationships shatter when we value perfection over people.
Sadly, it took years for me to realize the damage I was doing with my pick-you-apart methods, but thankfully my husband isn’t just funny. He’s also one of the most grace-filled people I know.
I asked Barry recently what expectations he brought into our marriage, and he seemed puzzled. “I expected to love you and for you to love me,” he replied simply, and I realized he was being honest. That’s a shocking statement for a woman who believes in the power of a life-changing tweak!
Click to Download Day One of Breaking Up with Perfect
For twenty-six years, Barry’s greatest gift to me has been that he truly lets me just be without an agenda to improve me. The trick for us reforming perfectionists is to learn to return the gift, and I’m determined that’s just what I’m going to do for Barry for the next twenty-six years plus.
This week I’m finishing up Kathi’s 21-day challenge in The Husband Project, and she’s been a huge encouragement all the way through. Almost every day in one way or another she’s urged all the participants to lower our expectations. Live in the real world. Give yourself (and your husband BTW) grace.
Kathi’s absolutely right. For about five years, I’ve been breaking up with expectations, lies, and mental pictures of perfection, and my marriage is the happiest it’s ever been.
It’s been a journey, but I’m now convinced. Low expectations add the gift of joy to our marriage. When unconditional love is elevated and perfectionism is banished, two individuals experience the freedom to grow into a bonded unit where happiness thrives.
That kind of marriage is even better than perfect, so next time, I’ll look my father-in-law in the eye, rare back, and laugh myself silly at his joke!
Author: Amy Carroll is the author of Breaking Up with Perfect and a speaker with Proverbs 31 Ministries. She lives in NC with her husband and a bossy miniature dachshund. You can find her on any given day texting her sons at college, typing at her computer, reading a book, or trying to figure out one more alternative to cooking dinner.
Join Amy for a FREE online book study of Breaking Up with Perfect from Aug. 1-September 5. Find out all the details about joining in the fun and community by clicking here.
Having trouble with the Husband Project when you’re not in the best place in your marriage? You are not alone.
It’s hard to talk about, but some marriages are difficult and you may be doing the Husband Project Online Bible Study with Proverbs 31 Ministries, but your heart is just not in it.
In this episode, I talk with Fawn Weaver who has interviewed over 110 couples around the world to see what common threads could be found in strong, happy marriages. What she found is surprisingly empowering.
Listen in to hear her tips on how to find hope when there is a marital mismatch or if you feel like you’ve tried everything and you’re stuck.
Mentioned in this episode:
Fawn Weaver’s TedTalk “The Argument Free Marriage“
I’m at my mom’s house, and she’s just asked me to do the dishes.
I don’t want to.
Now don’t get me wrong; I would do just about anything for the woman who gave me life.
But doing the dishes at my mom’s house comes with a certain amount of built-in humility.
Because I know that as soon as I’m done loading the dishes into her dishwasher, she will rearrange them all.
And for the rest of the night I will seethe. Not because of wasted time or effort. But because of my mom’s deafening unspoken message: There is only one right way to load a dishwasher— my way. And you, dear daughter, have done it wrong. Again.
I’m a grown woman with four grown kids. I load a dishwasher at least once (and if I’ve actually cooked and we aren’t just washing coffee cups and cereal bowls? More than once) a day. But my mom always has to make sure that her dishwasher is loaded right.
For the rest of our visit, I’m going to be silently steaming over the dishwasher redo. Because let’s be honest; there isn’t one right way to load a dishwasher. There are about 300 “right” ways to do it.
Have you been there? You just want to love someone, serve them even, but their need to be right squashes your effort to show love?
Sadly, too many times, I’ve been the squasher when it comes to my husband.
When we first got married and blended our family, I knew the right way to run a house. I knew the right place to store the mixing bowls and the right place to keep milk in the fridge.
And I also knew the right way to discipline kids, have a happy marriage, and, well, just about everything.
What I forgot? Roger had a right way to do all of those things as well.
I’ve learned how vital it is to have our priorities in order. To ask ourselves, “Is my first calling to be right or to be in relationship?”
How can you tell? If your priority is to win, if it’s to get him to admit that he is wrong and you are right, if it’s to prove that he should always just do what you say when you disagree because, again, YOU WERE RIGHT, then clearly your priority is to be right.
In contrast, when you focus on being in relationship, you put your relationship before results. You care more about you two as a couple that any one outcome.
What about when you’re right (because I’m guessing that happens a lot,) and want to value your relationship more than the being right?
This is when the third R comes in: Respect.
You can disagree, champion your point, and be right all while maintaining the relationship as long you do so with respect.
When Roger and I are driving to the mall and clearly he is going a different direction than I think we should be heading, I’m tempted to say, “You’re going the wrong way! Again!”
Instead, I can use my favorite “Respect” secret weapon: a Clarifying Question.
Such as, “Is there someplace you wanted to go before the mall?”
And one of the greatest gifts in all of this going from right to respect and relationship is this: when there is less need to win, you both can win by being on each other’s team. You are not opposing each other; you’re linking arms to confront problems, together.
Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Question of the day: What is one way you are going to focus on relationship over winning in your marriage this week?
Like my Facebook page, answer the question of the day on Facebook and you’ll be entered to win by book, Praying God’s Word for Your Husband.
The winner will be announced live on the live video tomorrow at 1:30PT.
WARNING: NOT FOR LITTLE EARS. WE ARE TALKING ABOUT ADULT CONTENT IN THIS EPISODE
Did you think we would have The Husband Project and NOT talk about sex? Of course not. So I brought in our resident sex-pert, Sheila Wray Gregoire, to share her wisdom.
As the author of the book The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex: (And You Thought Bad Girls Have All the Fun) and creator of the website To Love, Honor and Vacuum, Sheila has done the research and can answer the most commonly asked questions that I hear (and all the others that I DON’T hear.)
So, put the earbuds in to listen if the kids are around because we are about to have some serious girl talk!
Join Kathi’s Street Team!
a.k.a. The Krew
Would you like to be among the first to know about Kathi’s latest projects, launches and posts? Do you enjoy sharing helpful information with your friends, family, and followers? When you learn a new, useful tip, are you excited to share with others? If so, you’ve got the right stuff to be on Kathi’s street team.
We are forming a street team called The Krew, and we want to invite YOU to be a part of it!
What’s a “street team”?
A street team is a term used in marketing to describe a group of people who ‘hit the streets’ promoting an event or a product. (But in our case, the ‘streets’ are the social media outlets!)
If sharing Kathi’s fantastic tips and tricks and about her life-changing books and courses with your friends and followers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and through your blog sounds like fun – then, continue reading to find out all about Kathi’s BRAND NEW Street Team!
What will The Krew do?
• Complete special missions once or twice a week through sharing on social media.
o Read and comment on Kathi’s new blog posts
o Like, comment, and share NEW Facebook posts
o Tweet / retweet the posts on Twitter
o Pin the posts on Pinterest
• Share our message, events, and blog posts with friends, family, and followers
• Share your feedback to help Kathi provide more useful content
All you need is a positive attitude and a love for Kathi and her message. (And a Facebook account, of course, to join the private FB group!)
So, what’s in it for you?
• Exclusive access to a private FB group
• Exclusive webinars with Kathi Lipp
• Be the first to know about book launch teams, new products, exciting partnerships, and events being held in your area
• Get a sneak peek into everything Kathi Lipp so you can be ready to share it with your friends
• And more!
Does this sound like you?
Then, go ahead and click apply and fill out the application. We’ll be in touch with you soon!
We’ll select The Krew members from the entries we receive. We’ll let you know you’ve been selected and you’ll be added to the Facebook group!
Time for another GIVEAWAY!!!
Go to my Facebook page TODAY and answer my question of the day: What is your favorite thing to cook for your man?
One person will win a copy of my book, 101 Simple Ways to Show Your Husband You Love Him!
I hope you are having as much fun doing The Husband Project Online Bible Study as I am. My favorite thing is connecting with you all via Facebook, during our live daily video sessions, and emails. Oh and loving on my husband of course.
And I would love to hang out with you and your friends face to face. Let’s have a girl’s night out! Or a woman’s day in! Whatever works for your group. I would love to come to your church or community event and speak on The Husband Project.
So what does a Husband Project event look like?
Who: You, your girlfriends, and me! I am an author AND a speaker. Plus, the biggest cheerleader of making marriages great. In my events, I love to brings the fun, inspiration and marriage changing practical advice. I want you to have fun and go home inspired to put in the energy to make your marriage rock.
What: The Husband Project is a two session event. Each woman will walk away with a simple to-do plan for loving on their man no matter what the state of her marriage. By challenging women to complete this marriage building exercise together, this event also impacts the relationships between the women that attend drawing them closer into community with one another with a focus on loving their husbands.
Why: We all need some time to get together as women and be encouraged in our marriages! I speak about the importance of keeping your marriage fun and your husband encouraged as couples do life together for the long haul.
So how do we get this party on the calendar? If you are interested in inviting me to your next women’s event, or creating one for the women in your community, click here
, fill out the form and I or my fabulous booking agent (we call her the VP of Love here at Kathi Lipp headquarters) will contact you within 48 hours.