Sometimes as I’m going throughout my day, I hear a man’s voice talking to me.
This voice gives the perfect response to my feelings: “Oh, honey, you’re so right. Let me draw you a bath and give you a neck message as you tell me all about it.”
He is pure charm and devotion: a man who is at my beck and call without any exceptions.
And although impeccably dressed and always carrying a flower bouquet, this Prince Charming figure is probably one of my worst enemies. Truly.
You see, for years, this fantasy man has tricked me and given me the wrong impression about how my husband “should” treat me. Prince Charming has whispered impossibilities into my ear—falsehoods about what marriage “should” be about and about how my husband “should” respond in each situation.
He has established unrealistic expectations in my heart about how my husband “needs” to react. He has told me that, if my husband really loved me, he would answer me in this specific way or do this specific thing.
For years, these expectations robbed me of the true joys of my husband and severely limited our marriage.
And yet, I was the one who let these falsehoods take root in my heart! I was the one who said, “Prince Charming, you’re right and he’s wrong. Why can’t he respond the way you do?”
Do you hear this voice, too?
Proverbs 14:1 says, “A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands.” Oh, how true this is.
In those moments when I’d chosen to label Prince Charming’s words as “correct,” I’d been slowly and inadvertently destroying the beautiful walls of our home’s foundation—our marriage.
“This Is My Way”
Have you ever seen the movie Spanglish? Throughout the movie, we witness the undercurrents of one couple’s marital troubles (mainly rooted in the wife’s unrealistic expectations and her desire that he communicate with her in an idealized way). She is always talking about her need to share certain things or to express things in a certain way (in what she would term as her attempt to achieve marital closeness).
Her poor, good-guy husband (played by Adam Sandler) puts up with this drama throughout the movie, doing his best to please her unending list of unpredictable needs. Finally, in one pivotal scene at the end of the movie, he finally is able to communicate his frustration to her. When she is shocked at how he responds, he shouts, “This is my way!!”
I’m not necessarily endorsing the movie itself (I’ve only seen an edited version), but I have to admit that Adam Sandler’s refrain of “This is my way!!” challenged me and brought new light onto the unrealistic expectations I’d placed on my husband.
The reality is that my husband is his own person. He has good days and he has bad ones. He doesn’t live inside my head. He won’t ever respond in the “perfect” way that I think that he should!
And here’s the kicker: I shouldn’t expect him to respond this way, either!
I realized that this kind of “he should respond this way” thinking resulted from a warped version of what marriage is. Marriage is not about working my hardest to get my husband to meet my needs or to act the way I’ve deemed is “correct” in a certain situation.
Instead, marriage is about acceptance. Accepting—with open arms—the entirety of who a spouse is and loving them regardless.
How selfish of me to think that my husband loves me only if he responds in some random, predetermined way that the Prince-Charming-voice in my head tells me is correct!
Every time that I think “I wish he’d said this,” or “How come he didn’t ‘know’ that this was how he ‘should’ have responded?” I am tearing down my house with my own hands.
Reframing and Accepting the Love
God continues to heal my heart in this area. In those moments when I want to tell my husband, “Why didn’t you respond in ‘this’ way,” God gently reminds me, “This is his way, and rest assured he loves you.”
On a daily basis, God gives me new eyes to see the wonderful man I married, allowing me to see the ways my husband deeply and richly loves me:
- my husband tucks the kids in bed by himself on those days when I am exhausted
- he never complains about watching the kids so that I can go out with a friend
- he takes the time to listen to me and hear what I have to say
- he regularly encourages me in my homeschooling efforts
- he tells me “you’re beautiful” in those moments when I know I have bags under my eyes and my hair is a mess
And I can think of more amazing things he does! And imagine—for a long time I missed out on being able to see these blessings (“his way” of loving me) because I was so caught up in insisting that he could only love me in the ways I’d deemed “correct.”
While I am truly a blessed woman to be this man’s wife, I still know that my husband will never love me perfectly… and that’s the way it’s supposed to be.
My husband can not and will not ever complete me, and I should never expect this of him. That is God’s job.
I must first allow God to fill up my need to be loved and accepted, and then whatever else my husband gives is pure bonus.
God is also giving me new insights into how my husband best feels loved so that I can truly have a servant (instead of a selfish) mindset. This has been a wonderful avenue of blessing in our marriage as well!
After all, true love is about serving, not about expecting to be served: “For even the Son of man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)
Dear friend, I encourage you today to ask yourself: “Am I expecting my husband to love me in this false, Prince Charming way? How are my own expectations of his love limiting our closeness and shutting off the true purposes and blessings of marriage?”
Instead of seeing what he isn’t doing, discover with new eyes the ways that your husband is trying to show you love.
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Alicia Michelle writes about living a beautifully imperfect journey through homeschooling, parenting, marriage and all family-related matters at YourVibrantFamily.com. She has been married to her best friend for 14 years and together they spend their days lovingly guiding their four passionate and creative kids. Alicia is the author of Plan to Be Flexible and the Back to School Survival Manual. She’s also the creator/producer of Vibrant Homeschooling’s online video courses “bloom: A Journey to Joy (and Sanity) for Homeschool Moms” and “rhythm: Guiding Your Family to Their Ideal Learning Flow.”
She believes each day offers new opportunities to grow in grace and to trust God in unexpected ways; and that “acceptance with joy” is one of the hidden secrets to a full, contented Christian life. When she’s not keeping her household and the site firing on all cylinders, she can be found snuggled under a warm blanket with a cup of tea and a good book (and, if she’s lucky, something drenched in chocolate). You can find her at YourVibrantFamily.com, as well as on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Periscope (Alicia Michelle YourVibrantFamily).