Valentine’s Day wreaks havoc on a girl with unrealistic expectations. I know. I’ve been there.
My husband, Mike, set the bar very high during our whirlwind courtship, fairytale wedding, and over-the-top honeymoon. He pursued me like a glass of cold water in the middle of a desert. He spoiled me with gifts and sent huge bouquets to my work (too big to fit on my desk!) He was a man on a mission. I felt loved and valued.
So, when we got married, I expected him to continue to pursue me with the same fervor he showed while dating.
Before you laugh, I felt justified in that expectation since he promised to pursue me in his wedding vows.
We were both naive to think we could pour into our marriage the same level of energy we had before the wedding. I brought an adorable daughter into our marriage (my second), and we added two more children to the mix in the first three years. Mike went from single to married father of three almost overnight.
Add to that a job change and a move and you can see how his focus necessarily changed. Any reasonable person might have given her husband a bit of slack in the area of creating romance. I can’t always claim that title.
I held on to my expectations, creating a bar too high for Mike to clear.
And little by little, the romance faded.
I wanted (expected) him to initiate dates with me and go all-out for birthdays and holidays. One of my top “love languages” is gifts. My expectations made it hard for him to feel confident in buying gifts. He thought it wouldn’t be enough (and, in all honesty, he might’ve been right). I expected thoughtful gifts that reflected his love for me and that showed he really knows my heart. (No pressure, right?)
Mike’s love language is acts of service. He’ll do anything for me: chores, filling the gas tank, he’ll even go grocery shopping. If it can be checked off a list, he’s happy to do it.
That’s all wonderful, but what I really wanted was to know that he still loved me as much as he did when we dated, when he expressed his love in ways that flooded my heart with joy. All his acts of service just weren’t doing that for me.
My expectation kept me from enjoying him in the present
Every time Valentine’s Day rolled around (or any other special occasion), my expectations soared and were dashed.
I knew Mike had it in him to shower me with romance and create a memorable day, but he didn’t. My disappointment festered.
Then, after a lot of pain and struggle, I laid down my “right” to be pursued and dated, and began to accept the husband God gave me.
Now, anything he does – a gift, a date, holding my hand on a walk, or simply cuddling on the couch to watch the latest installment of Victoria — I express my gratitude to him. More than that, I feel gratitude toward him. It’s a great place to be.
And you know what happened? He started exceeding my expectations!
If you have unrealistic expectations this Valentine’s Day, here’s what you can do:
1. Let your husband off the hook. He’s already proven his love to you. Let him know he doesn’t have to vault over the high bar of your expectations anymore.
2. Shower him with gratitude. If your husband gives you a Valentine’s Day gift or card, let him know you appreciate it. If he doesn’t, pick something else to express gratitude for. Focus on what he brings to the marriage.
3. Accept your reality. Celebrate Valentine’s Day in a way that works for you, your unique marriage and your season in life.
Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to look like a Hallmark movie – or even a Hallmark commercial – to be special. Celebrate the man God gave you, not the fantasy of who you think he should be. Celebrate your love free of unrealistic expectations and I promise you’ll have more fun!
Elizabeth M. Thompson is an inspirational writer and speaker who helps women lead Scripture-based, Spirit-graced lives. She lives in Gold River, CA, with her family and enjoys kayaking and walking along the American River with her two adventurous dogs. Connect with her at www.elizabethmthompson.com
Too often when I crawl into bed I realize that the day has brought little (if any) emotional connection with my husband.
I might be living and married to this man, but I often wish I had more quality time with him.
I realize I miss him. I miss us.
Busy lives and families
Families today are busier now than ever before. It’s common for both parents to work full-time jobs outside of the home, and many of us report feeling stressed, tired, and rushed (New York Times)*. Whether we’re working inside the house or outside of the house, the busyness of life leaves couples feeling more like friends than intimate partners.
Consider our leisure time. According to my own informal survey, though couples spend time ‘together,’ women often report time spent on electronic devices steals precious time and causes them to feel disconnected from their spouse.
Couples experience shoulder-to-shoulder time, but lack face-to-face time.
Reconnecting with your husband
So, what is one thing you can do when you miss your husband? Incorporate daily ‘couch time’ with your husband.
One Small Win: ‘Couch time’ is 15 minutes of uninterrupted conversation time.
And while ‘couch time’ doesn’t have to be on the couch, choose a place where you can preferably sit across from one another and away from distractions.
Determine the time and place it will take place.
- Right after dinner?
- Before leaving for work?
- Face Time over your lunch break?
- Set your alarm 15 minutes early to chat in bed before getting ready for the day?
- Sit down at the table as soon as you are both home?
And yes, this even goes for those of us with young children! Prime your kiddos for this special time by telling them, “Mom and Dad will be visiting for 15 minutes. When we are done, then we’ll be happy to help.
It doesn’t take long to connect with your husband. It does take intention.
Imagine catching up with your husband about your day. Sitting down and truly listening to each other. Filling your husband in on that funny story or frustrating situation. Talking about the next day and what you each have going on.
Don’t wait. Chat with your husband about couch time today. Plan it, and enjoy your special time together.
* Miller, Claire, C. “Stressed, Tired, Rushed: A Portrait Of The Modern Family.” The New York Times. November, 2015. www.nytimes.com. Web. 14 Dec. 2016.
Amanda Davison is on a mission to share how her education in counseling and God’s word changed her marriage. She is sure to share personal, laugh-out-loud moments, which are woven with challenging yet inviting perspective change.
As a Speaker and Wife Coach, she tackles topics such as: becoming a confident wife, handling the real frustrations as wives, knowing and owning our high call as wives, and obedience. She wants to hear from you and hopes you will join with her on the journey of learning to love God’s people well. Learn more about Amanda at www.amandadavison.com.
Have you ever felt overwhelmed by relationships? We have lots of friends and acquaintances and all require some of our time. Some feel they should get a bigger chunk of time than you have to give. Those friendships can become overwhelming. There are safe and unsafe relationships and we can’t have everyone as our close friend, We can’t manage all those relationships.
How do we manage our expectations in relationships in a healthy way?
Kathi and Overwhelmed co-author, Cheri Gregory discuss times in their lives when they had to set boundaries or when they had unrealistic expectations of relationships. Kathi talks about a time when “I couldn’t be a good friend, but I needed a good friend.”
Listen in as they discuss how decluttering relationships is hard but it’s necessary to make room for the ones God has called you to.
Carey Scott, is a new friend, but boy – when you read just what her mother-in-law did to sabotage her Christmas – you will instantly bond with her, just like I did.
Be sure to head over to Carey’s blog to enter to win her latest book Untangled.
She left out one of the main ingredients.
As my mother-in-law was writing down the recipe for her crowd-pleasing breakfast casserole – the one my husband really wanted me to make for Christmas morning – no one realized she was angry.
Even though we had spent Thanksgiving with them and planned on Christmas Eve too, the fact that we’d wake up at my parent’s house on the 25th made her spittin’-mad.
And as my husband stood over her shoulder, he noticed she not only skipped a flavor-delivering ingredient, but also tweaked the measurements of the others.
I was being set-up for failure – a label I already wore when it came to all-things hospitality. A label she wanted me to continue wearing.
Truth is I’m not a confident cook or baker, so I’d have followed the recipe to a tee. The result would have been one nasty casserole. And ruining the Christmas morning meal would have heaped guilt and shame on me for not being better equipped in the kitchen — tightening the tangle that said “I’m a culinary catastrophe.”
There’s something about the holidays that brings out the nasty in family and the insecurity in us.
… Maybe we step back into dysfunctional family patterns, the ones we’ve paid big bucks in counseling to overcome.
… Maybe we feel like mom is judging the way we celebrate the holidays today because it’s different than how she did it when we were kids.
… Maybe old tapes replay in our minds, and we hear the tangling messages from childhood of “You’ll never be good enough” all over again.
… Or maybe growing up in our home was so painful that spending time there causes us to feel oppression all over again.
In a season where we’re supposed to step out of hectic schedules, set aside disagreements, and gather together to celebrate the important things in life… we find ourselves tangled in the messy-ness of family.
And instead of looking forward to the holidays, we dread them.
So what can you do to make family-time be tangle-free during the holidays?
Be prayed up
If you don’t ask God to prepare your heart in advance of these self-esteem-draining situations (and people), you’ll find your tinsel tangled. Start now praying for grace … for peace… for perspective… and for God to tender your heart while He strengthens your spirit. Ask Him to remind you of all the ways He delights in who you are. It will make a difference.
Plan to step out
Instead of maxing out your time with family that maxes out your confidence, be clever. Find opportunities to regroup. Make a run to the store. Take an extra long shower. Take the dog for a walk. Find ways to step out of the insanity so God can replace those age-old lies of worthlessness with His truth.
Breathe grace in
Experts agree a fail-safe way to keep from unleashing your anger on someone is to take a deep breath in. I don’t know the physiology of it, but I know how many times this simple idea has saved the life of the person standing in front of me (#justsayin). When your self-worth gets dinged and your hurt turns to anger, take a God-sized dose of grace into your lungs so you can exhale kindness and mercy. You don’t want to be a tangle-maker.
My mother-in-law and I never saw eye-to-eye. In all fairness, I wasn’t always easy to love. But neither was she. And while we made peace before she passed a few years ago, she was a tangle-maker through and through. Each time we got together, I asked God for help, I found pockets of time to regroup, and I inhaled grace. Lots of it.
The holidays can get us all wrapped up in the wrong things because we’re around the people who know what buttons to push, and have often been the ones to hurt us the most. But this year can be different.
Remember friend: Be prayed up. Plan to step out. Breathe grace in.
And never forget that the Creator of the world – the one whose virgin birth we’re about to celebrate – delights in you… stumbles, fumbles and all.
He created you to be a gift to the world… and you are.
Looking for encouragement to help you recover from that pesky problem of perfectionism? Today’s featured book is Untangled.
You can enter to win a signed copy by leaving a comment directly on Carey’s blog.
PLUS, you’ll also be entered into the grand prize drawing for the Wrapped In Grace gift package: signed copies of all five of our books, a $100 Visa gift card, and a bunch of other fun goodies. All winners will be announced Saturday, October 24th at http://www.WrappedInGrace.info.
Carey Scott is an author, speaker, and life coach, honest about her walk with the Lord… stumbles, fumbles and all. Her passion is reminding women of their immeasurable worth, something the world is quick to discount. She speaks to women’s groups and writes about the issues that matter most to the heart of a woman.
Carey lives in Northern Colorado with her husband and two kids where she tries to be domestic, and appreciates the grace when she’s not. You can learn more by visiting her website and blog at www.CareyScottTalks.com, or by tracking her down at the closest Starbucks.