Updated: Dec 17, 2018
One thing that most people don’t know about me is that I love sports. Not watching sports, but playing them. When we are at most family events and my son, brothers and nephews go out to play basketball, football, soccer, kickball, or anything that involves running and a ball, they immediately get my attention. As much as I love my sisters and nieces, I will quickly leave the conversation, change clothes, throw my hair up in a messy bun and join the guys. I don’t know what it is, I just love being in an intense game of just about any sport where it requires lots of movement, coordination and sweat. Yes, I did just say that, I love to sweat. I am a competitor by nature. I am not just partially all in when I play, but I am all in every moment. I am a work hard, play hard kind of girl.
Our newest adventure, due to having to be indoors in the winter because of the cold weather, is racquetball. To me there is nothing more invigorating than smashing a ball as hard as you possibly can against a wall as someone else is trying to return it back to you. It is not only a competitive game but also a very strategic game. You have to make sure you hit the ball well and at the same time be strategic and place it in a spot where the other person is unable to retrieve it. I feel bad saying this, but in all honesty, I get much pleasure out of hitting the ball as hard and strategically as I possibly can and watching my husband have to scramble to try and return it. The more I can get him running after the ball, the more enjoyment I get.
As much as I am enjoying racquetball, when we first started playing a few weeks back, it wasn’t as enjoyable as it is now. The reason for this is simple, we didn’t know all the rules of the game. We were avid racquetball players when we were first married but it has been quite a few years since that time, so we forgot many of the rules. Instead of looking up the rules that first day, we just tried to remember them and played the game the way we thought it should be played. This worked the first and second time but by the third time, I was beginning to get irritated with Travis. I felt like since we didn’t know the correct rules, we were beginning to call things more for our own personal benefit to gain a scoring point, rather than out of fairness. Everything was now subjective, and because of that the calls that we made in the game were not consistent. We had different expectations for each other.
The inconsistency was beginning to irritate me to a point that instead of laughing and having fun while playing, we were being sarcastic and pushing each other’s buttons. The entire point of playing together was to fill that need of recreational companionship that I have inside of me and make us closer, but it was now pulling us a part.
It is easy to look at the problem now, but in the midst of it, we couldn’t see it right away. All we needed to do was do an internet search for the official racquetball rules, so that we would each be following the exact same rules. It would keep us playing fair and there would be no room for arguing because it was an actual rule of the game. Without knowing the exact rules or expectations of racquetball, it allowed for unrealistic expectations to creep in which was annoying the heck out of each of us and causing conflict.
I am glad that the problem was solved only after a few weeks. The solution was easy, and now we are loving going to play racquetball on a regular basis. We are laughing and making memories all while getting a work out and filling a need inside of me. But why, why did we allow any frustration to come in? We have been married 26 years. Why would we let something so little come between us, even in something so simple as a game? We should know better than this by now. Why, because, we are human!
I can probably think of fifty more stories like this that have happened in our marriage. Times when we have allowed little things to creep in, stir up frustration and begin to build a wall between us. Small expectations that we have inside of us that the other doesn’t even know about.
So, what is an expectation? An expectation is a strong belief that something will happen. Because we have these expectations, sometimes without our spouse even knowing them, when they don’t come to be, we can begin to let disappointment and frustration come in. If this is not dealt with quickly, openly and honestly, it grows into bitterness.
Expectation will create a debt verses debtor mentality or relationship. This type of relationship basically says, you owe me and I owe you, or if I do this for you, you must do something for me. Here is an example. If I bring you a cup of coffee, you better pack my lunch. A big problem with this is that we don’t express gratitude to the people we feel or believe owe us something in return. If they owe me something, I don’t need to be grateful or thankful for what they have done. Can you imagine cooking supper, cleaning the house, mowing the lawn or shoveling, and your spouse not expressing any form of gratitude to you because they believed you owed it to them. They just expected it? That could cause a ton of frustration. So, what is gratitude? Gratitude says, I didn’t expect that, and because I didn’t expect it, I am grateful for it.
How do we not allow unrealistic expectations from creeping into our marriages? I love what Andy Stanley says about this, “Happy couples know that they owe each other everything, but they are not owed anything in return.” So according to this quote from Andy Stanley, what does your spouse owe you? Nothing! But what do you owe your spouse? Everything!
Wow, how crazy is that? It seems kind of like a foolish thought, doesn’t it? I have pondered this concept for a while now, and I came to a personal conclusion. I agree with it! If I have the mentality that Travis owes me nothing, I will be grateful for all the things that he is doing for me. If I have the mentality that I owe him everything, this will allow me to serve him and break the spirit of pride in my life. When I think of this concept even further, I realize the best example of this is Jesus. This is the exact demonstration of what Jesus has done for you and me. Looking at it from that perspective makes me fully agree and want to carry this concept into my marriage. Yes, I know at times I will fail in this area. It's not always an easy goal to attain, but I would rather reach for something than reach for nothing at all!
Marriage has taught me so many things. It has stretched me to limits that I thought were not possible. It is the greatest gift to my spiritual maturity that God could have ever given me. In the midst of my learning, growing and stretching, we will still continue to play racquetball and any other sport that comes our way. I will still appreciate sweating, and joining in on every intense game that I possibly can with my son, brothers and nephews. Most importantly, I will continue to strive to be grateful for everything, especially my husband!
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