Time and time again, The Love Dare book addresses unrealistic expectations.  Do you remember what you expected from your future mate in the beginning of your relationship?  What do you expect now?  The higher our expectations are, the more likely it is that your spouse will fail you and you’ll get frustrated.  “If a wife expects her husband to ….understand all her needs, she will likely live most of her married life in constant disappointment.”  (All quotes are from The Love Dare except where noted)

“Divorce is nearly inevitable when people refuse to allow their spouses to be human. So there needs to be a transition in your thinking.  You must choose to live by encouragement rather than by expectations.  The way your spouse has been for the last ten years is likely what he or she will be in the future apart from your loving encouragement and an intervention from God.  Love puts the focus on personal responsibility and improving yourself rather than on demanding more from others.”

Sounds discouraging, unless I focus on the line where change is possible with loving encouragement and God’s intervention.  If I didn’t believe this I wouldn’t be writing this blog and I would have no hope that my situation will change with my wife.  God’s intervention has saved my life repeatedly and He has presented people to me, who are willing to do His will, who pray and encourage me.  He has brought to mind people for me to reach out to and help me through very difficult times.  I believe in God’s intervention.

I have been very critical.  I rationalized my criticism by saying, “look, I am hard on myself and am examining ways to improve myself, why shouldn’t you do the same?”  Well for one thing it is not my place to tell anyone how they should be, or what they should, or should not do.

“Perhaps you’d respond by saying that the problem is not with you but with them.  If they really do come up short in a lot of areas, why is that your fault?  As far as you’re concerned, it takes both of you doing everything you can to make a marriage work.  If your mate doesn’t want you to be so critical, they need to realize that the issues you bring up are legitimate.  You’re not saying you’re perfect, by any means, but it does seem that you should be able to say what you think. Right?”

“The problem with this kind of attitude is that few people are able to respond to criticism with total objectivity.  When it seems clear that someone is unhappy with you—whether by direct confrontation or the silent treatment—it’s hard not to take their displeasure personally.  Especially in marriage. …. You must realize that marriage is a relationship to be enjoyed and savored along the way.  It’s a unique friendship designed by God Himself where two people live together in flawed imperfection but deal with it by encouraging each other, not discouraging them.”

I know I have one reader out there.  She has encouraged me to continue writing this blog, in fact every time I was going to stop, I’d hear from her saying that she is getting something out of it and to continue.  So here it is Katie, thank you for your prayers and encouragement.

I am glad, yet hesitant to announce that I am finally getting out of that ugly emotional pain I was feeling (for six eternal weeks!), and the dark thoughts that came with them.  I owe this to the goodness of God, AA meetings, my sponsor, my sons from different fathers, my other children, relatives, old friends, new friends, prayer, studying the Word, pastoral counseling, therapeutic counseling and a very good psychiatrist.  It is humbling to have so much to be grateful for, and so good to know I am not alone!

I am still hoping and praying for a breakthrough in my marriage, but if this does not happen I continue to pray for healing and blessings to all concerned.