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Expectations: Setting the Bar

What are your expectations for your marriage? Do you expect your marriage to thrive? Do you desire to grow closer to God together? Do you want to connect at ever-deeper levels as a couple? One would be hard-pressed to find any couple that wouldn’t want those qualities to be true in their marriage.

Now the follow-up question: Will your behaviors and values achieve your expectations? What we have found is that while couples will say that their expectations are for a growing, vibrant, Christ-honoring marriage, their choices and values lead them further from those expectations. As a result, expectations are not met and their joy in marriage is diluted at best and dashed at worst.

In the “love” chapter of 1 Corinthians 13 the Apostle Paul actually addresses our choices and values. He wrote in verse 6 that: “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.” Evil is anything that is contrary to God’s standards of what is right. To delight in evil means that we justify it, approve of it, or simply accept it.

Paul contrasts that with “love…rejoices with the truth.” In other words, love embraces God’s expectations for our lives and how we should live.

So back to your expectations in marriage: where have you set the bar? Is it set at the world’s expectations or God’s? Here are some things to ask yourself and then talk about with your spouse:

“Love does not delight in evil”

  • Am I protecting my mind and expectations in what I choose to watch or read? Am I evaluating media by: how they portray marriage? Sexual purity? Roles in marriage? Faithfulness?
  • Have I compromised what I view or read by claiming, “But it’s real life!”? (By whose definition? Real life in marriage by God’s standards or the world’s?)
  • Do I indulge in “secret sins” of the mind that erode my purity? (e.g. unforgiveness, bitterness, lust, anger, jealousy, a critical spirit, etc.)
  • Have I been so focused on my spouse’s faults that I’ve failed to see their good qualities? Has this become a way to elevate myself and power-up in the relationship?

“Love…rejoices with the truth”

  • Do I pick and choose what I want to believe of God’s standards based on my desires—or have I fully given myself to His truth and following Him?
  • Am I guiding people I love toward God-honoring, God-trusting decisions in their marriage? In their sexual choices? In purity before marriage?
  • Will I consciously make decisions to do the things which will build my marriage rather than tear it down?
  • Have I encouraged and celebrated those who are making God-honoring choices in their life and marriage?
  • Have I affirmed my spouse for all of the good things about their character and life—the things that are true about them?

It takes guts to stand for what is right and to do what is right for your marriage. Make the right choices and fulfill God’s expectations as you build your marriage!