I cringed at the question, knowing disappointment would wipe the smile off his face at my dreadful answer. I looked down, hoping his own memory would be the one to break the news.
Crushed Dinner Expectations
The night before I had tried a new recipe. One that looked easy and simple enough, perfect for a quick supper after work that’d give us enough time to go for a walk before bed. However, trying new recipes while married is high-risk, high-reward. Being that we’re both creative cooks, sometimes we whip something up that tastes worthy of a 5-star restaurant, and other times one of us is left beating our head against the wall in frustration of that one missing (or unnecessary) ingredient.
“Isn’t it funny. We’re basically too good at cooking to follow a recipe anymore,” Silas proclaimed after tasting Monday night’s results. After discussing everything that could’ve made this dish so much better, I realized he was right. Most of the recipes we find online or in a cookbook we typically adjust to our preferred flavors over time. If it’s a completely new category of food I’ll typically try out what the veterans recommend – but you can definitely be confident that I’ll be adding cilantro to any Mexican dish (and avoiding it in all Asian recipes . . . is it just me, or do you also think cilantro just doesn’t belong with sesame?!).
Silas asked again. What’s for dinner? An audible groan escaped my mouth. I’m pretty sure I did that thing where my eyes grow bigger and my eyebrows wiggle (as if my obnoxious facial gestures will somehow grant my husband the ability to read my mind). Leftovers, I finally whispered (as if saying it more quietly would somehow enhance the flavor).
It’s Not Him, It’s Me
I melted into a puddle of despair as the reality of tonight’s dinner situation sunk in. My husband insisted it was fine (even though he admitted that whole wheat pasta tastes like cardboard to him the night before). He nodded in agreement that we couldn’t just throw away perfectly good – well, perhaps simply edible – food. Still, my heart turned sour as I thought about all of the times I’ve disappointed my husband with what I made to put on our plates.
I fumed over every comment my husband made in the past three months, bitter that I couldn’t meet his unattainable culinary expectations. I begged him to just tell me exactly what he wanted from me, what he expected me to do. Instead, his response was assurance: he told me he loves how I care for him, he is thankful for the hard work I put in around the house, and that I am the best wife ever. But I wouldn’t deem his words truthful until a little nudge from the Holy Spirit shook me from my misery. Let it go.
It was all I needed to snap out of the lies in my mind dragging me down.
You’re Responsible for Your Expectations of Yourself
Holding on to every small comment my husband makes doesn’t profit me anything at all. Storing up evidence that he doesn’t think I’m a perfect cook 100% of the time only makes me realize that exact truth. Sure, my husband recognizes my mistakes in the kitchen, but it is merely that, a recognition, nothing more. He never expected me to be a perfect cook 100% of the time.
The reality to my distress? I myself expected to be a perfect cook 100% of the time, and missing that mark crashed me into reality. However, those three simple words gently guided me to be able to look at the true fault of the matter. If I have unrealistic expectations of myself, my tendencies are to blame others for holding me to the standard of perfection that I myself created. I was blaming my husband for not communicating his expectations to me, when, in reality, his gratitude wasn’t dependent upon my perfect execution of an impressive dinner every night.
Realizing it’s my own expectation that’s got to go frees me from the burden of being that perfect cook 100% of the time. We are responsible for our own expectations. This includes making sure we aren’t holding our husbands to a ridiculous standard that isn’t attainable, necessary, or practical.
But, we are also responsible for making sure we aren’t holding ourselves to that standard, either. It’s much easier for me to be harder on myself and expect more from myself than my husband. Yet when it’s me with the problem he’s the first on my list to blame. Being aware of these natural tendencies and inclinations is the first step we have to take in order to overcome that terrible habit.
There’s Only One Who Can Meet Every Expectation
Let it go. Even if it truly is an expectation your husband had of you that was missed, you can’t keep score of every single negative comment he makes and mix it all up in a bowl and consume it like soft serve for your soul.
Your husband is just as responsible for his expectations as you are, and it’s quite possible this is an area the both of you will be growing in for years to come. It’s not your job to tally up every time your husband experiences disappointment (on your behalf or otherwise) and hold it against him.
Instead, God instructs us to: Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32, ESV). We really can’t keep score of his shortcomings without rejecting our gift of grace God freely gave us.
Grace is the glue God uses to unite husband and wife as one.
It can be difficult to know what your expectations are on the surface. I suggest spending time discussing them with your husband. Ask him what actions you can take to serve and show love to him, and talk through any concerns you might have of not measuring up. When disappointment arises, talk it through – and always be ready to obey the Spirit’s leading.
It’s important to be proactive, but sometimes God reveals more to us in the midst of a problem for the sake of our sanctification and his glory.
I am forever grateful for the Lord’s grace and love that both sanctifies me and waits patiently for me to be sanctified.
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