Despite what you’ve heard, your spouse isn’t your other half.
All married couples learn at least one truth within the first seventy-two hours of driving off into the sunset: marriage may be sacred, but it’s far from ideal.
One of the easiest ways to ruin your marriage is by having unrealistic expectations. And that’s exactly what “ideals” are. They are fanciful and naïve expectations that will sooner or later let you down.
I thought being complementary was a wonderful and romantic idea. Turns out, my wife didn’t see it that way.
Our culture helps us build these unrealistic expectations into our marriages with a romantic phrase we like to use to describe our spouses.
“My other half.”
This seemingly harmless phrase reinforces wrong ideals and keeps you from being able to simply enjoy your marriage. Usually, we mean two things when we describe our spouse as our “other half.”
1. You complete me.
What we usually mean when we call our spouses “my other half,” is that that he or she makes us whole. We’re essentially saying, “In every way that I feel like I’m missing something, you’re what I’m looking for. You fix my brokenness. You fill the hole in my life.”
The problem with this is that it simply isn’t true. Your husband or wife will never complete you because people are not designed to fill God-sized holes.
To expect your spouse to meet every need you have adds an unbearable burden to your marriage, not to mention, to your spouse.
2. You complement me.
Photo by Vitalii Vitleo/Shutterstock.com
In other words, “Everything I’m not, you are. Everything I need, you are. Everything I can’t do, you can.”
I thought being complementary was a wonderful and romantic idea. Turns out, my wife didn’t see it that way. There is a fine line between complementing each other and compensating for the other’s lack of discipline.
Marriage may be sacred, but it’s far from ideal.
These two ideals that are communicated with the phrase “my other half” create unrealistic standards for your spouse to measure up to. They are simply unfair. Not even you meet all of your expectations.
So how do we break the “other half” mindset? Here are three of my thoughts:
1. Get rid of your wrong expectations.
Some of your expectations are not necessarily wrong in and of themselves, but they require your spouse to become something he or she is not.
In that case, a harmless expectation becomes harmful because you are measuring your spouse’s value by how they compare to the ideal spouse in your imagination. That will only frustrate you and discourage them.
You have to love your spouse for who they are and not who you want them to be.
2. Clearly communicate your right expectations.
Not all expectations are wrong, of course. You should expect faithfulness, honesty and love in your marriage. And there may be other expectations unique to your marriage that are okay.
So which expectations are okay and which ones are unrealistic?
A great starting point to figuring this out is to communicate your expectations with your spouse. Any expectation that isn’t clearly communicated and talked about is unrealistic.
3. Find out your spouse’s expectations.
This isn’t one-sided. If you are not listening to your spouse and what they need, why should you expect them to do the same?
Two servants create an indestructible marriage. Let’s strive to serve each other.
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