Why Isn’t He the Person I Thought He Was?

How to be realistic and hopeful in your marriage.

Unrealistic Expectations

Many couples have trouble in their marriages because their expectations are unrealistic.  Expectations are a strong belief that something will happen or that someone will or should do something.  Synonyms are hope, anticipation, and belief. 

An expectation, which is a belief centered on the future, may or may not be realistic.  Less than expected results give rise to disappointment. 

Expectations in marriage are dangerous.  Some expect that their mate will be able to fulfill ALL their deepest longings and needs.  They expect their spouse to make them happy.  Having such an expectation puts an undue burden on your marriage and increases the likelihood that you will be unhappy. 

Lowering truly unrealistic expectations is a good thing to do.  As Christians we believe Jesus is the answer to fulfill ALL our deepest longings and needs.  No one human can manage that.

What Did You Expect?

When you got married you expected your spouse to be the perfect husband, and of course you would be the perfect wife as well. It’s usually not big things that drive us crazy, but it’s the everyday annoyances. 

Early in your marriage you either didn’t notice them or didn’t think they mattered because you felt love would conquer all.  But the longer you are married, the more you desire to change him.  And if you are like me, you probably held out a confidence that you could change him if there were any habits that needed correcting in the future. 

I’ve heard it said that a husband usually lives up to 80% of the wife’s expectations.  That leaves 20% she would like to change.  And she may work on chipping away at her husband for years trying to do this.  Wouldn’t it be much better if you enjoyed the 80%, prayed daily for your husband, and trusted God to change the 20%. 

What you may find out is that you will be the one getting the 20% change!  Funny thing is when we pray for other people, God ends up changing our own heart.

Must He Change for You to be Happy?

Sometimes we feel there is a long list of items we would like to change in our spouse, and we think they all need to be changed for us to have a great marriage. 

Here is a risky exercise if you are up for it.  Ask each other “What is the one thing you would have me change that would make our marriage better”.  Be ready to accept the answer, and then make a commitment to change it, with God’s help.  Take ownership of your one thing to change.  And stop trying to change your husband’s one thing. 

Don’t come back with the answer, “Well, that’s just how I am, and you should accept it”.  True, we all have differences that we need to learn to respect and accept in each other.  But here is an opportunity to find out the one thing that your spouse feels needs changing, and then ask the Lord to help you do so.

and to change the things in your heart that are not pleasing to Him.  (this seems like a separate thought)

Who Really Needs to Change?

Philippians 2:3-4 tells us to “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each to the interests of others.”

My selfish ambition was to change that 20% of my husband to make him how I felt he should be.  My vain conceit said that I know more what he needs to do rather than allowing God to work in his life. 

So now the first thing I’m doing is praying to God to change me from my selfish ambition and vain conceit.  To not only value my husband above myself, but to look for his interests over mine. 

Change your expectations of what you think your husband should be.  Instead change your expectations to what God wants him to become, and then strive to be the wife that God wants you to become.