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The Marriage Plan That Can Lead to Divorce

Aug 18, 2007
Other people often fail to meet our expectations because we don't communicate those expectations clearly. Unfortunately, many of us come into marriage with expectations we don't know about -- until our spouse fails to live up to them. Then things get ugly.

Those expectations typically fall into one particular category -- the role of our spouse. Ideally, our expectations in this area will be discussed and understood in the dating/courting period. But too many couples never discuss their roles until after they're married. And, even if they do, it's very easy to cover them in broad strokes and leave out a lot of the details. But the details are where the trouble comes in.

Whether they realize it or not, many couples have a mistaken view of marriage roles that can cause tremendous problems. They think that each spouse is responsible for half of the work. And some people even think the other spouse should do most of the work. But that's not how marriage works. Dennis Rainey, the president of FamilyLife, says this can cause at least four problems:

1. Acceptance is based on performance. Many people unknowingly base their acceptance of their spouses on performance. Performance becomes the glue that holds the relationship together, but it isn't really glue at all. It's more like Velcro. It seems to stick, but it comes apart when a little pressure is applied...

2. Giving is based on merit. With the "meet me halfway" approach, a husband would give affection to his wife only when he felt she had earned it. If she always cooked tasty meals and balanced the checkbook, then he would drop her a few crumbs of praise and loving attention. She, in turn, would lavish affection and praise only when he vacuumed the carpet and always arrived home on time.

3. Motivation for action is based on how each partner feels. As a newlywed, it's easy to act sacrificially because the pounding heart and romantic feelings fuel the desire to please. But what happens when those feelings diminish? If you don't feel like doing the right thing, perhaps you won't do it at all...

4. Each spouse has a tendency to focus on the weaknesses of the other. Ask a husband or wife to list their spouse's strengths in one column and the weaknesses in another, and the weaknesses will usually outnumber the strengths five to one.

Marriage isn't based on what you can get from your spouse. And it's not a barter system where you give to get. Marriage is an institution where each spouse is supposed to give, and give, and give -- regardless of what is given in return.

Think about it. What happens if one spouse is in a coma and can't give anything to the other spouse? If you have a 50/50 marriage or a "meet me halfway" arrangement, your marriage is effectively over. But if you are dedicated to giving 100% each and every day, you're prepared for such situations -- and anything else that comes up.

Obviously, we're all human and giving 100% daily is difficult. But I'm not talking about perfection. I'm talking about character. What are you characterized by? Do you constantly expect your spouse to do this and that? Or do you focus more on what you can do to help your spouse? If you're characterized by the latter, your spouse will likely be far more forgiving when you fail to live up to expectations.
About the Author
Steve Kroening writes for Success magazine and also publishes Wisdom's Edge. You can get Biblical tips on health, finance, relationships, parenting, and success, delivered to your email inbox every week. Simply visit http://www.wisdomsedge.com and sign up for this free e-zine.
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