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Expecting a "You Complete Me" Kind of Marriage

Expecting a "You Complete Me" Kind of Marriage

I wanted my husband to do what I needed God to do
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"I'm expecting" is a grand open-ended statement of two little words loaded with hope. As a mom of four, I have lots of experience saying them, sometimes with excitement and sometimes with exhaustion. Each time I've been waiting for the baby, other expectations weren't so obvious. The dream of fulfillment, or unconditional love, or a stronger connection to my husband. They were unique expectations based on my distinct mess of personality and life experiences. What I was "expecting" with my fourth pregnancy was much different than my first, because I knew more about motherhood and I'd grown as a woman.

Though we associate the phrase "I'm expecting" with pregnancy, we could just as easily use it for engagement. Because we all bring both spoken and unspoken expectations to the altar on our wedding days. I even brought plenty I wasn't aware of. In the moment I couldn't have articulated the expectations if I'd tried, because I didn't know they were there until I was living in the context of a real marriage.

Having grown up with a single mother my entire childhood, my expectation for marriage felt pretty open. I didn't have a good or bad marriage to use as my model. It was simply void, like white, the absence of color; I suffered from the absence of marriage. I did have a few fantasies—at the time I would have described them as hopes. That I would be happier, more fulfilled, with my husband. In a sense, that he would "complete me."

And then real life happened. We lived on a shoestring budget with my paycheck from supporting migrant high school students for Catholic Charities. My husband was a full-time graduate student. Despite the fact that we lived in rainy Portland, Oregon, our apartment was beyond hot for six months of the year. Dinners didn't magically appear and the dishes didn't magically disappear. The reality of the "work" involved to maintain life, not to mention our relationship, was a letdown. Why was I still wanting more when I had what I wanted: a loving, stable, supportive husband?

It wasn't until a year into my marriage that I had the epiphany. I was putting expectations on my husband that no human could fulfill. When I had dreamed of what marriage would offer, I had dreamed of emotional fulfillment, filling the empty places that existed in my heart. For so long I'd thought, "When I'm married … then I'll be happy." Because I thought marriage was the answer to my heartache.

Growing up without a father, my understanding of boys, and later men, was complicated. I didn't trust them to stay around, I tested whether I could get their attention, and once I knew I could I moved on. They were mysterious and desired all at once. I met Derek knowing that what I desperately wanted was a husband who would not leave me. A force of security who would protect and provide for me and tell me I was worth protecting and providing for. During my epiphany moment I realized I'd expected my husband to fill the holes left by my father. Holes of insecurity and disappointment and mistrust. Holes resulting from life in a broken world.

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Displaying 1–3 of 11 comments

phyllis roimen

January 03, 2014  4:45pm

This is timely, & I can totally relate to it. I sincerely pray for God's forgiveness & sufficient Grace for expecting too much & ending up disappointed & wounded.

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Scott I

January 02, 2014  3:31pm

Another excellent article. The articles have really been on a roll in recent months. The devil has filled the world (and our expectations) with nothing but falsehoods and lies, knowing how the failure of those often sends humans on to bad choices and actions. Paul does the opposite: 1Cor. 7:28 But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh. We all want good things. Problem is, the devil knows that, too, and is determined to deny us, hoping we will give up God in order to finally get those things. We are being tested to see how much deprivation we will tolerate, within reason, while remaining faithful to God, which includes a marriage if we are in one. But life will never be a bowl of cherries as long as the devil has control. Luckily, he is about to lose that control in not much more time. Once Judgment has passed, then we will have the life we have wanted for so long.

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August 07, 2013  9:24am

Oh Janet, I so much see myself in your words. Imagine, I had christian parents who were there for me but still felt alone and rejected. It was years later that I realized that God singled me out for a personal relationship with HIMSELF. Before then, I felt totally abandoned by God. One day I simply said, Ok, God, I don't know what else to do, say, think or pray; have it your way...life or death I am just leaving myself to whatever happens... I even refused to attend church services...O yes, I was fighting with God... it is war, I didnt care anymore. I never knew then that was actually what HE wanted from me....brokenness, not trying to control my life and destiny in my tiny useless hands, seeking satisfaction in things that do not last. Gradually, without my even being aware, HE started counting HIS blessings in my life, not the things I lack; deep within me I knew. The seed started growing and here I am, not perfect but growing in HIS LOVE.

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