Cattails, Rabbit Trails, and Thistlefish: Marriage is Teaching Me... To Lower my Expectations

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Marriage is Teaching Me... To Lower my Expectations

First off...
I'm not going to tell you that I'm learning to lower my expectations of my marriage and my husband, and that you should do the same.
That you should not expect him to fulfill all your desires or emotional needs.
That he's a sinner and a he will let you down.
That, to be happily married, you have to overall lower your expectations for your husband.

But I'm not, because, if anything, marriage has taught me to have higher expectations for my husband.

We can talk more about that later, but marriage lately has been teaching me more about lowering my expectations for myself.

Before marriage...

Like I mentioned briefly in my last post, I grew up with fabulous parents who loved each other and have been with each other for almost 30 years. My dad has built his own company and my mom has always been a SAHM who homeschools the kids and runs the cleaning of the house and the feeding of the family flawlessly.

Let that be a small glimpse of the expectations I had for what a solid family should look like.

Similarly, Jon was raised by two awesome parents, with a southern mom who cooks great meals and keeps a spotless home.

Take both of those examples, and what kind of wife do you think I felt like I needed to be?

After the honeymoon...

Fast-forward to our second week of marriage as we are getting moved in and settled into our new apartment. Jon started his online classes and went back to work (up at 5 am, home by 4 pm) and I started my college classes and my part-time job. We almost had the exact same work load, if you take into consideration that I worked less but had more schoolwork, and he worked more and had less schoolwork.
In addition to all of this, we were both determined to keep leading Young Life, which requires the same amount of time as a part-time job.

But that didn't change the amount of pressure I had put on my own shoulders to immediately be able to keep a clean house and cook dinner every night.

Not sure how I thought that was going to play out practically, considering I still didn't know how to cook and I wasn't home very often, but I was determined.

Hitting the walls

As you can imagine, this only lead to breakdowns, and not just hitting one wall, but hitting multiple walls.
(My stubborn head doesn't learn any lesson quickly)

And it wasn't until just a couple months ago when someone pointed out to me,
"Casey, do you realize how many times you say 'I should' or 'I'm supposed to'?"
That was when I realized that I was constructing my life around expectations I had put on myself.

Jon wasn't telling me I had to stress out about dinner every night.
My mom wasn't telling me to keep a cleaner house.
The marriage books I was devouring weren't telling me I needed to quit all my dreams in an effort to be a great wife.

These were all expectations that I had put on myself.
And because they were high, unattainable expectations, I was only letting myself down, over and over again.

Being a disappointment to yourself is one of the worst feelings, and this was a recurring theme throughout this last year.
Not only that, but I started to assume that God was always disappointed in me. That's when things got really serious. Not only were my expectations making me cranky and disappointed, they were also making me unpleasant to live with and also skewing my perspective of God.

The solution?

Unfortunately, there isn't/wasn't a solution. I wish there was!
Solutions are easy, and they can be checked off a list. (I love lists!)
But instead, there's a process.
Thankfully, it is one that God created and my husband is more than willing to help me with.

But it's a process that involves making sure I am acting on what I am actually called to do, not just what I think I'm supposed to do.

It's actually ok to ask Jon to fold the laundry while I finish an assignment, instead of feeling like I have to do all the house work on my own. (Even more incredible, Jon actually doesn't mind! He likes helping me!)
It's actually ok to order Chinese when dinner didn't work out.
It's actually ok that dishes in the sink pile up because it's midterm week for both of us.

Because I am not called to keep a flawless house and make dinner every night and look picture-perfect every evening when Jon gets home from work.
I am called to be a supportive wife who is a safe place for my husband, who respects him with her words, who does her best to create a home but not at the sacrifice of her own sanity.
I am called to love Jon and follow him and respect him and support him.

Sometimes, this involves cleaning part of the house or cooking dinner. But the point is, I am called to be a wife to Jon before I am called to be a housewife.
I am called to be a wife; not just do wife things.
They are two different things.

So now...

So now I am trying to focus on my relationship with Jon before I focus on the housework.
I am trying to focus on who a wife should be more than what a wife should do.
And I am trying to lower my astronomical expectations for myself to include this train of thought.

Because, at the end of the day, both Jon and Jesus love me even when the house is a mess! 
What other opinions matter?

Have you ever struggled with having high expectations for yourself?
Linking up with MomfessionalsSept-FarmBright on a BudgetThe Closet by Christie, & Two Thirty-Five Designs

12 comments :

  1. I love this. Such a great perspective on marriage! I've been married for two and a half years, and am constantly learning that it's all about compromise, and no one is perfect!

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    1. Absolutely... which I'm so thankful for!

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  2. It's definitely a struggle to try to do it all or fit into certain expectations we have for ourselves. I'm definitely still working on this one! haha...
    ~Jessica
    Jeans and a Teacup

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    1. I think I'll be working on it for the rest of my life!!

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  3. That's a great line. "I'm called to be a wife not do wife things." I'll be thinking that one over!

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    1. Thanks; that is one that keeps coming up in my life!

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  4. It's definitely all about the balance. Marriage absolutely takes work. It's great to see someone so young have such a great outlook. New follower here from Turn It Up Tuesday. :)

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    1. Thanks so much! Glad you found my blog;)

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  5. This is so good! I definitely put really high expectations on myself as well. Now that my husband and I have a baby, I'm learning to lower them. It's totally ok to let some things go or ask my husband to help.

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  6. I absolutely love this! And I think this can be true of life in general; we are constantly placing expectations on ourselves that are sometimes completely impossible to achieve! I love your thoughts on this subject!
    Thanks for sharing at the Grace + Lace Linkup!

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  7. I am not married but am recently dating again after a 3 year hiatus. Its different and I put alot of unnecessary pressure on myself in general (grad scool x 2, work full time, and volunteer for 10 groups...) and when he came into he pic I cooked and cleaned and was on point. And it all crumbled. Thank you for sharing this letting me know this is a real life sturggle for others as well.

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  8. I am not married but am recently dating again after a 3 year hiatus. Its different and I put alot of unnecessary pressure on myself in general (grad scool x 2, work full time, and volunteer for 10 groups...) and when he came into he pic I cooked and cleaned and was on point. And it all crumbled. Thank you for sharing this letting me know this is a real life sturggle for others as well.

    ReplyDelete