– Contractual arrangements work well in business. But when we hold our spouse accountable to our expectations it’s guaranteed to fail. What’s the alternative? in this video, my husband and I will share the difference between demands and desires. We all have both physical and emotional needs. “I do” is barely out of our mouth when we place the burden of our needs on our spouse’s shoulder and expect them to meet those needs. Eventually our desires become demands and expectations. What was once “I hope” for our marriage becomes “you promised”.
– When we got married, I had a desire to be validated to be told I was good enough and I was a good husband. Over time the longer we were married, what started as a normal natural desire soon became an unmet expectation or demand. And when Danielle wouldn’t validate me in the way I wanted, I’d get angry. Now there’s a part of wanting to be respected and validated that’s legitimate and normal. But because of me and my story, it had turned into a type of need that was no longer healthy. I needed to constantly be validated by Danielle that I was a good husband because of my deepest wound. Many of our conflicts have resulted from this unhealthy expectation. For example, Danielle could have a legitimate request like, “honey can you take out the trash before the garbage truck comes?” And that is a very normal request, but when I forgot and she would come in and say something like “I thought you were going to take the trash out.” What I would hear is “You’re not a good husband.” So I would get defensive. And in a frustrated, disgusted tone say something like “I was working hard, couldn’t you take the trash out?” So what was a normal and common question from Danielle about the trash not being taken out. What it did is it trigger a negative response in me because of my desire for respect. And it moved from a desire to an expectation or demand.
– Now I had my own list of desires that had now become demands. And one of them was for Russ’s attention because being ignored is one of my deepest emotional wounds. Now it’s not the type of attention you’d expect when you walk into a room full of people and be noticed. But I wanted Russ to give me his attention. All of it. For example, if I came in from a business, lunch, or a workout and he asked, “how was your day?” He didn’t really seem interested in my day. It’s like, he expected me to just say fine and move on. But as I began recalling the highs and lows and telling him about my day, Russ would start doing something else like check his phone or the news. He was my husband and I expected that he would want to hear more about my day than check the scores of the game or his latest work email. There’s nothing wrong with wanting your spouse to pay attention and listen to you share about your day. It’s really common courtesy. The reason I know it became something unhealthy was because of my reaction. I know when a desire becomes a demand is when I get angry. It helps me identify when the shift has happened. So next time you get angry, check and see if your desire has become a demand, and expectation. What started as I hope became you owe.
– When things go from a desire to demand it turns our marriage from a promise and commitment to each other, to a contract that we are measuring. This can happen without us even realizing it. Contractual relationships are not loving relationships. We have a contractual relationship with our utility company. We pay the money, they turn the power on. We aren’t in love. We aren’t friends. We don’t pay our bill. They turn off the power. That’s what a contract is. Nobody got married to have a relationship like that but it can become that when we think you owe me this, this and that. If you don’t meet these requirements then you’re failing the contract.
– [Danielle] The opposite of a contract marriage is a covenant marriage. In a covenant marriage, Both husband and wife put other’s needs first. Each spouse is committed to loving the other unconditionally and without demands. That’s the kind of love God shows us the kind he has designed to be fuel for thriving marriages.
– Because we all have needs. It’s natural and normal to have desires for our spouse to fulfill those needs. God often uses our spouse to meet our needs. So what can we do to help our spouse fill our needs? One principle, that’s been another top one that has helped our marriage, is learning how to coach our spouse on what we need. First, we have to identify our top relational needs and often our top relational need is tied to our deepest emotional wound. Once we learn this, we can coach our spouse on what we need with specifics. For example, I need validation that I’m a good husband because my deepest wound is, am I good enough? So I need a lot of specific validation like appreciation, respect, and words of affirmation. Danielle is great at all three of them. Now if she has a complaint, it helps to start with a soft startup, an example of a soft start up and to take out the trash example, if Danielle would start by saying, “I love you, and you know I think you’re a great husband but it frustrates me that you said you were going to take out the trash before the garbage truck came and you didn’t.” Instead of “I thought you were going to take the trash out.” with an angry tone.
– And for us wives, this is a generalized life statement. I believe we have a Disney affect. We do not want to coach our husbands. We feel like we’ve told them over and over and over but I would challenge you and ask you, how is your tone in your voice? How is your body language? using these gentle reminders and soft start-ups can really change the interaction between you and your spouse.
– But God didn’t design our spouse to meet all our needs. Our spouse will meet some of our needs but only God can meet all our needs. And as followers of Christ, we believe that God wants us to look to him, to meet our needs. This will take the pressure off our spouse and it will draw us closer to God as a result, closer to each other. We believe that in a healthy marriage it’s okay to have desires for your spouse to meet those needs. But when those desires become demands the healthy marriage can go downhill very fast.
– When we talk about the idea of desires and demands, questions usually surface, questions like what do I do with desires that my spouse consistently won’t meet? Do I ignore the desire? Pretend it doesn’t exist? Suppress it in an attempt to be selfless or just abandoned it altogether. There’s a verse that really speaks to this situation. Listen to what Peter says in first Peter five, six through seven, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” God didn’t design your marriage So your spouse would meet all of your needs. Your spouse will meet some of your needs but only God can meet all of them. His plan is for you to depend solely on him. And your marriage is healthiest when you and your spouse are in a dependent relationship like that with God. We may say that God is part of our marriage but in practice, it’s like, he’s a spectator. We go to him when life gets really bad. In thriving marriages, each spouse trusts God to meet their needs without making demands of the other. Your desires and dreams will always matter to God even when they don’t seem to matter to your spouse. Bring them to God and you’ll find that he gives you the strength and grace to carry on.
– That principle really makes all the difference in the world. Let’s go back to the example I used earlier about missing the garbage truck. When I asked myself, “why did I get so frustrated with Danielle When she brought up that I hadn’t gotten the trash out in time? I realized I feel like a bad husband and that she was keeping score of the ways I had failed that week. As Danielle and I have grown in our marriage. But more importantly, as I’ve grown closer, my relationship with God, I’ve learned where I have to go first for my validation and that’s to God. See, as we grow closer to God, we grow closer to each other. If I’m continually looking to Danielle to validate me then I’ll frequently be disappointed. But when I know that God has already validated me I respond differently to Danielle. That paradigm shift gives me the freedom to respond differently. Something like, “Honey I’m so sorry I got focused on work issue, please forgive me, Next time I will set an alarm to remind myself to take out the trash.” If I would have done that she probably would’ve said “No problem.”
– And while I still desire that Russ would want to hear all about my day, If there’s a day where he seems preoccupied or focused elsewhere I’ve grown to know that provides an opportunity for me to take my needs to God. I know Russ won’t always get it right, but God will. And he tells me to cast all of my concerns, worries and anxiety on him because he cares for me. The security of knowing that frees me up in the moment to pause and say to Russ, “you seem preoccupied perhaps we can find another time to catch up later.” In a thriving marriage, the husband and wife get better and better at coaching each other and trying to meet each other’s needs. But thriving couples, they recognize that their spouse will never fully meet all of their needs because there’s someone else who can more than handle that job, and that’s God. This could be an opportunity to invite God into your life in a much deeper way. Thanks so much for watching and we’ll see you next week. We all have a tendency to bark our demands. When we’re under stress try to communicate your desires lovingly and humbly to your spouse. Otherwise you might find yourself focusing on what they aren’t doing. Again, be sure to take this relationship quiz to learn how you can better connect with each other. And if you liked this video, check out this next video of what happy couples know about constant expectations. Remember to have an extraordinary marriage, be intentional.