You’re engaged and excited about your future life together. Write down your expectations–and throw them away. What if you, sir, have the expectation of a clean house? You come home with the hope of the house looking good. It doesn’t. Your expectation just morphed into a right. Far better for couples to live with responsibilities than with rights. Civil rights should be accompanied by civil responsibilities. Sometimes they don’t. Victims claim rights; they don’t want responsibilities. My right becomes your responsibility.

So if the house isn’t clean, I have an unfulfilled expectation. That does not create fellowship; it engenders agitation.

Ephesians Five is the clearest statement of marital responsibilities. The husband is told to lead and to love, the wife to respond and respect. But the husband’s responsibility is not the wife’s right and vice versa. “Hey, Romeo, you’re supposed to love me as Christ loved the church. Get to work, senyor.” Nor can he say, “Submit, woman. Down on your knees.” He can only love as Christ loved, by laying down his life more for his wife. And she can only trust in God to produce in her husband what she is believing for.

Expectations easily become rights that turn into demands. No place for demands in a healthy marriage. There is room for trust and hope and love, but put your expectations in a God who doesn’t fail you. Otherwise, you are going to find yourself living with tit for tat and this for that. Not a fun way for two people to live together.

“You didn’t pick up your clothes.”
“Yeah, because you didn’t clean the house.”
“Yeah, because you left the living room a mess after watching TV for two hours.”
“Yeah, just like after you had your friends over last week.”

Rare? All too common. Instead of claiming your rights that grow out of expectations, how about accepting your responsibilities? If your spouse doesn’t accept his or hers, try trusting in God to change what needs to change rather than going to work yourself. It does not feel good to know your spouse is attempting to transform your behavior or your performance. Like the guy said, “Don’t get hitched at the altar if you have the itch to alter.”

Servants accept rights and do not have responsibilities. Jesus came “not to be served but to serve…” That should give us a clue as to our stance with others, and especially with our spouse. Serving our spouse with humility rather than voicing our rights allows the Lord to do the transforming work. I Peter 3:1-7 spells this out clearly.

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