Expectations, the great killer of love

I was watching an advice program on TV on sex, and it was tragic seeing what happens with couples. A wife rations her husband’s quota of sex each week; a husband loses interest if his wife doesn’t initiate sex, they blame each other, and on and on it went.

As I watched, the problem became all too painfully obvious. Each husband and wife had entered their marriage with high expectations. One wife, for instance, expected her husband to provide her with a better life than she had as a child. A husband expected his wife to be sexy at all times. And when a partner didn’t come up to expectations, that’s when the relationship began to crumble, and as soon as that happened, the couple lost interest in sex together too.

I had trouble watching the program because I learnt some time ago that the quickest way to wreck a relationship is to enter into it with expectations. Or, put positively, that the best way to build a relationship is having no expectations. I learnt that from God, who proves his love for us by dying for us while we were yet sinners, Romans 5:8. In other words, he began his relationship with us with no expectations on his part. He loved us at our worst. And that’s why, eventually, we come to love him in return, 1 John 4:19.

If only parents realized that too, that the way to build a relationship with their children is to love them “as is.” But what happens instead? They expect their children to get top grades in school, expect them to excel in sports, expect them to keep their rooms perfect, expect them be on their best manners with adults, expect, expect, expect. The child is hit from every angle with the parents’ expectations.

No wonder kids give up, get sullen and want to leave home. They can never be good enough for their parents, and eventually they reach the point they wonder, “Why bother? What’s the point in trying? Even if I do well, I’ll be told I could have done better. I give up.”

It sounds like many marriages are going the same way, too. Husbands and wives are giving up on their relationship because they can never live up to their mates’ expectations. They could, therefore, do themselves a world of good if they tried loving each other like God loves them. It’s a revolutionary love, because it’s love with no expectations. But it’s love that creates love in return.

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