Editor's note: This article was originally published on Consuela Parsons' blog. It has been republished here with permission.
There is one thing ruining marriages all across the world today…
Can you guess what it is?
Are you wondering how I could narrow it down to just one thing?
It affects all aspects of marriage: sex, money, date nights, household chores, raising children and even vacations.
Can you guess? OK, I will tell you … it is unmet expectations.
Sounds a little too simple right?
My husband and I are leading a small group at church and we have discovered, not only in the class, but also in our own marriage that unmet and un-communicated expectations are causing anger, bitterness, and disappointment in marriages everywhere. In some cases, it's even leading to divorce.
What does an unmet expectation look like?
A husband not bringing home flowers on his wife's birthday, a wife rejecting her husband's sexual advances, dirty dishes in the sink when a wife comes home, or the husband that comes home and the wife barely acknowledges his presence. None of these things are especially terrible or unforgivable. But after weeks and weeks or months and months of these types of rejections, they more than sting, they start to break hearts, tear down intimacy, and build walls.
We have all been there. We think: "This is so simple." "Why in the world can't my spouse just not do this?" … and make me happy, surprise me, help me, and on and on.
There is usually a simple answer … we have not lovingly and clearly expressed our expectations. I know you have yelled about dirty dishes or made sarcastic remarks about how you have to beg for sex. But, have you ever really sat down and told your spouse how important these things are to you? How these things make you feel loved, safe and supported?
Most times we haven't.
Here's a perfect example: I sent my husband a quick text asking if he was coming home for lunch. His simple answer was "I'm not sure." My heart fell a little because what I really wanted was for him to bring my daughter home from preschool. I was tired, it was cold out, and I didn't want to load my 3-year-old son in the car. Luckily, my husband followed up the text with "Why are you asking?" I explained that I was hoping he would bring our daughter home. He immediately texted back and said "Sure!" I was so happy. But, I could have spent the afternoon feeling like he was being selfish or didn't care about me if he had not asked a follow up question.
And, you know what? It would have been my fault not his. I was not clear and did not express my expectation.
Can you think of a time when your spouse let you down or disappointed you but a simple conversation could have cleared up the confusion? Can I challenge you today to discuss your expectations in a loving and clear manner? You will never know what your spouse is willing to do unless you ask.