Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s wellbeing.
1 CORINTHIANS 10:24 NKJV
Let each of you look out not only for his own interest, but also for the interest of others.
PHILIPPIANS 2:4 NKJV
Expectations. Oh, you have them. And so does your fiancé. You may already be aware of them or you’ve yet to experience a plateful of surprises.
For many couples, their expectations remain unspoken. Many of them are desires. Some reflect a dream or an ideal rather than a necessity. Often, they turn into assumptions, “My partner should know what I need”—which never works.
Let’s face it. We’re all selfish. We have a “me” attitude about life. We’ve learned to focus on “what I want, what I can get, and what the other person (in this case fiancé) is going to do for me.” This attitude runs counter to what your new married life is to behold.
See how author Gary Smalley learned this important marriage lesson:
He was in seminary, was engaged in ministry as a youth pastor, and was in his second year of marriage to Norma. At that time, it was dawning on him that marriage was perhaps not all he thought or hoped it would be. Disagreements and conflicts were increasing. Then he went to a seminar and heard a message that, as he told the story, changed his life. The point that hit home was this: if you are irritated by many things in a relationship, perhaps you are fundamentally self-centered and primarily looking out for your own interests.
Gary had a revelation of sorts about how he had been treating Norma. He expected her to respond to his various needs on his timetable and in the way he wanted.
If you are familiar with Gary’s work, you know he has a gift for expressing the needs of the soul in graphic word pictures. Upon realizing the depths of his selfishness, he held a funeral service for himself. As he told the story, he got down on his knees—just God and Gary—and prayed, imagining his casket, funeral songs, and being laid to rest in a deep hole in the ground. Six feet under. From there, he felt led to systematically give up to God various things that he held dear. He began to see just how much he had expected everything to go his way in their marriage—from the car they drove to the apartment they lived in to the priority placed on his work to about what they ate for dinner. Gary said of himself following this event, “I wasn’t the same any longer. Things were changing about me that I would never have imagined.”
If you were to hold a funeral service for some of your expectations what would you bury? It’s something to think about.
QUESTIONS FOR COMMITMENT
For You: Describe two or three examples of how you will put these verses into practice once you are married.
For You and Your Fiancé: Discuss what each of you would bury about your past and your expectations if you were to have a funeral service for yourself.
For God: Ask God to show you which expectations are realistic and which need to be discarded. Ask Him to give you opportunities to put into practice these passages of Scripture this week.
Lord, who may go and find refuge and shelter in your tabernacle up on your holy hill? Anyone who leads a blameless life and is truly sincere. Anyone who refuses to slander others, does not listen to gossip, never harms his neighbors, speaks out against sin, criticizes those committing it, commends the faithful followers of the Lord, keeps a promise even if it ruins him, does not crush his debtors with high interest rates, and refuses to testify against the innocent despite the bribes offered him— such a man shall stand firm forever.
PSALM 15:1-5 TLB
Marriage is a relationship of promises. “Promise me” is a common request from parents and friends alike.
As you grew up, you might have learned to “use” promises yourself: “I promise…really,” or “Hey, you promised!” or “Please promise me you won’t tell.” Promises eventually become an important part of friendships, showing trust. You even might have exchanged a promise ring with a special friend.
Simply stated, a promise is an agreement to do something or not to do something.
When you make a promise, you’re saying, “Trust me. You can depend on me. I will follow through.” It’s not just an agreement on your part, it’s a commitment. And until this point, every promise volunteered on your part—whether freely given or asked of you—was just the prelude to the promise you are going to make on your wedding day.
The details of a wedding ceremony—the processional music, the attendants, the seating of the parents, the flowers, the words of the minister, the food at the reception—are important, but you could have all of the above and still not be married. The heart of your wedding will be your vows! Sadly, I’ve counseled many couples that never gave any thought to the vows until either the rehearsal or the actual wedding.
It’s not just making your wedding memorable with heartfelt vows—these words will express what you will be doing with the rest of your life together!
The language of a wedding service should be the language of promising. That’s why the ceremony has such a serious ring to it. The promises are to be spoken seriously and without coercion. And once you make these promises through the exchanging of vows, you and your spouse will never be the same. You will move to a new life status by virtue of your promising. A transformation will take place. What was separate before will now become “one flesh.” And no matter what happens, this fact can never be erased.
QUESTIONS FOR COMMITMENT
For You: What are three promises that you will make to your fiancé?
For You and Your Fiancé: Discuss promises that each of you have made in the past and how you have honored them.
For God: Ask Him to help you discover the promises that each of you will make to one another, as well as to the Lord, when you marry.