This post is adapted from What Did You Expect?: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage by Paul David Tripp.
Expecting the Expected
Jim got sick and had to forsake his climb up the corporate ladder. This brought stress into his marriage to Jen that he would never have anticipated. Brad and Savannah got busier and busier and quit communicating as they should, and their relationship paid the price. Brent struggled with a secret sin for years, and when Liz discovered it, it almost ended their marriage. India and Frank always seemed to be in a battle for control. It was an exhausting marriage to be a part of. Alfie and Sue never seemed to be in the same place spiritually. Jared and Sally had an infectious affection for one another, but their financial woes brought much stress to their marriage. Jung’s mother pulled her into loyalty battles again and again. It caused lots of conflict between her and Kim.
There are two observations to make about all these marriages. First, none was a bad marriage. No one was about to walk out. No one had been unfaithful as yet. There had been no abuse or violence. But none was experiencing what God had in mind when he created their union in the first place. And all of them were surprised at what they had to face as a couple.
Second, everything that each couple faced is predicted by command, principle, proposition, or perspective in the Bible. These couples should have expected the expected. If they had approached the Bible as a wonderful window onto their marriage, they would have known what to expect and not been surprised at what came their way.
So what are the essential wisdom perspectives that Scripture gives us that enable us to have realistic expectations for our marriage?
1. You Are Conducting Your Marriage in a Fallen World
We all face the same thing. Our marriages live in the middle of a world that does not function as God intended. Somehow, someway, your marriage is touched every day by the brokenness of our world. Maybe it simply has to do with the necessity of living with the low-grade hassles of a broken world, or maybe you are facing major issues that have altered the course of your life and your marriage. But there is one thing for sure: you will not escape the environment in which God has chosen you to live. It is not an accident that you are conducting your marriage in this broken world. It is not an accident that you have to deal with the things you do.
God decided to leave you in this fallen world to live, love, and work, because he intended to use the difficulties you face to do something in you that couldn’t be done any other way. You see, most of us have a personal happiness paradigm. Now, it is not wrong to want to be happy, and it is not wrong to work toward marital happiness. God has given you the capacity for enjoyment and placed wonderful things around you to enjoy. The problem is not that this is a wrong goal, but that it is way too small a goal. God is working on something deep, necessary, and eternal. If he was not working on this, he would not be faithful to his promises to you. God has a personal holiness paradigm. Don’t be put off by the language here. The words mean that God is working through your daily circumstances to change you.
So, somehow, someway, this fallen world and what it contains will enter your door, but you do not have to be afraid. God is with you, and he is working so that these grieving things will result in good things in and through you.
Click here to read more.