In a healthy marriage your spouse meets some of your needs, but not all of them. It’s so easy to expect your husband or wife to make you happy, and I hope they do! But every human being, including your spouse, is limited and finite. It’s useful to consider what your spouse can and cannot do for you.
People get married for all kinds of reasons; for sex, for convenience, for money, for social status, for security, for love. Expectations differ, and what you thought your spouse would provide is often different from what they expected to give, and vice versa. Talking about expectations can help.
Some marriages are dysfunctional and traumatic. Abuse, manipulation, or infidelity are not OK. But even in a healthy marriage expectations can be misplaced, especially when you look to your spouse for something they cannot give.
Here are some things your spouse can and cannot do for you – even in a healthy marriage.
Your Spouse Cannot:
If your spouse is behaving badly it affects you, and you may need to take action. But even the most loving spouse cannot:
- Define your self-worth. Whether your spouse is demeaning or loving, looking to them to define your worth will always leave you disappointed.
- Fix your addictions. Marriage will not cure your attachment to pornography or any other sexual dysfunction, or strongholds in other areas.
- Understand you completely. Male/female differences, unique experiences, different personalities – those things and more mean your spouse will never see the world exactly as you do.
- Be there for you 24/7/365. Even the most loving spouse cannot be present for you every moment forever.
- Fight your battles for you. There are things in your character that only you and God can deal with. A godly spouse may be able to fight alongside you, but you will have to do your own fighting.
- Fill you up. No human being can satisfy every need in your soul. You must learn to feed yourself, and then to look to God for what only He can give you.
- Deal with God for you. When you stand before God in eternity the only thing that will matter is your own relationship with God, what you have done with Jesus, and whether your character has become like His.
Your Spouse Can:
A healthy marriage is a blessing! There are very real benefits to a godly marriage, and many reasons to work and pray for your marriage to get even better. Here are some things a loving godly spouse can do for you.
- Love and accept you. They won’t do that perfectly, but experiencing unselfish godly love from your spouse can do much for your human heart. We heal and grow best when we are loved.
- Mirror your character. Marriage is enlightening – not only because you find out about your spouse, but you also find out things about yourself that are both encouraging and in need of improvement.
- Support your growth. A cheerleader can be invaluable when you are wrestling with a significant change or challenge, such as in your character, personal healing, career, etc.
- Encourage you to be more. In the best marriages your spouse can see more in you than you see in yourself. Having someone believe in you is inspiring and helpful.
- Enjoy intimacy with. Remember that intimacy is not primarily taking the clothes off your body; it’s taking the clothes off your mind and heart. That full-orbed intimacy can continue to improve throughout marriage.
- Partner for the future. The synergy in a committed covenant marriage can often accomplish more for the kingdom of God than those two people could alone.
So Now What?
Perhaps you’ve read through that list and realize you’ve been focusing too much on the negative. Your spouse really is a gift, and you’ve taken them for granted. You can change that! Take the time to celebrate the husband or wife God gave you. Thank God deeply for how He has blessed you in your marriage. And then plan some special way to tell your spouse how you appreciate the blessing they are to you.
Perhaps you’ve read this and desperately wish your spouse would do some of those positive things for you in your marriage. Let me remind you that you don’t need a healthy marriage to be happy or successful. A troubled marriage does not limit God’s ability to do what He wants to do in you.
Here are a few things to do if your marriage is not supplying you some of those good things.
- Seek healthy friends. Same-sex godly friendships can be especially valuable if your marriage is not satisfying. You need uplifting people in your life; find them!
- Learn to feed yourself. You are responsible for your own emotional/spiritual nourishment whether your marriage is healthy or not. Invest in good soul food every day.
- Stay close to Jesus. The state of your marriage is no surprise to Him. And just maybe as you come closer to Jesus and become like Him your spouse will be drawn to do the same.
And one more important question. How well are you doing in giving your husband or wife the things they need from you?
Your Turn: Is your spouse giving you more than you realized? How can you focus on the good things they do give you, and look to God for what they cannot give? Leave a comment below.
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- Even in the healthiest marriage there are things your spouse cannot do for you. Healthy expectations focus on what your spouse CAN give you, and looks to God for the rest. Tweet that.
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