Kory takes the trash to the curb every week. I hardly notice that he does this chore. Except when he forgets. Because when he forgets, we have to go two weeks without a trash pick-up. The trash can and recycle bin fill to overflowing and things begin to get a little stinky. (On these occasions, I’ve heard him wonder out loud if all we do while he’s at work is sit around make trash! Sometimes I feel that way.)
I rarely tell him “thank you” for taking out the trash. Strike that. I NEVER tell him “thank you” for taking out the trash. And I never offer to do the job for him. In fact, when he’s out of town, chances are that the trash won’t be taken to the curb. Why? Because sadly, I don’t know when trash pick-up day is, and I just don’t think about it when he’s gone.
Same thing with the cars. If something needs to be repaired, it’s Kory’s job. Not mine. Pest control, yard work, and house repairs too. They all fall into the same category. Kory’s work. But don’t fret. I have my own list of jobs around the house that are my responsibility. Bills, grocery shopping, laundry, and cleaning to name a few. And generally speaking, I handle these jobs on my own.
I don’t recall that Kory and I ever sat down and made a list of “his” and “her” jobs around the house when we were newly weds. But over time, as we’ve learned to manage our marriage, careers, and children, different responsibilities have settled onto each of our shoulders, and now we have somewhat clearly-defined roles that help us keep our home in order.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But Kory’s new sermon series on marriage, “More Than Just Married,” and the marriage Bible study we’re leading together on Sunday nights has caused me to think about our roles a little differently.
Last Sunday night during our first Bible study session, we began discussing the difference between our “desires” for marriage and our “expectations” for marriage. No doubt that we both had dreams and desires for marriage before we said “I do”. But what about after we walked down the aisle? Did those hopes for marriage stay in the category of dreams and desires or did they transform into weighty expectations that we began to dump on each other?
As I’ve thought about this question, I’ve had to acknowledge that at least as far as I’m concerned, there are certainly some things that I “expect” of Kory. And I know that I expect these things because when he doesn’t perform to my satisfaction, my response may be fueled with anger, sadness, or frustration. I’m sure he feels the same way about me sometimes.
But when we carry around the weight of expectations, it dramatically changes the dynamic of our relationship with our spouse. Why? Because the covenant of marriage is transformed into a contractual relationship where each spouse’s decision to perform is contingent on whether the other is doing his or her part. This is score keeping at its finest, my friends. And the problem is that no one gets any credit for contributing because, after all, each of our contributions is expected by the other. It’s the baseline. The moral minimum. The very least we can do. To get ahead of the game, we have to do the bonus questions and earn some extra credit!
Now I know that Kory and I are getting some things right in this department. There are certainly things I consciously appreciate about him. But there’s always room for improvement if we really want to experience the fullness of God’s design for our marriage. So I’m taking some time to identify those things I expect of Kory, and I’m committing to transform those expectations back into desires.
On Sunday night at Bible study, I discovered two tools that I’m hoping will help me do this:
1. Expressions of Gratitude
2. Acts of Service
First, I’m going to try to start being more intentional about saying “thank you” to Kory for all that he does for our family. From taking out the trash to providing for us financially, he does so many things that are a blessing to me and to our children. He deserves some words of thanks and affirmation for all that he does and all that he is for our family.
And second, the next time I notice that Kory hasn’t done something that is part of “his jobs” around the house, instead of getting angry, sad, or frustrated, I’m going to do it for him. And while I do it, instead of grumbling about it, I’m going to try to consider it an unexpected opportunity to serve my husband and to show him the love and grace of Jesus Christ through the ordinary details of our life together.
Now I know this will be easier said than done because there’s no doubt I’ve formed some bad habits in this regard. And, as you know, habits are not easily broken. So in the coming weeks, this will be at the top of my prayer list as I try to change my way of thinking!
Now I better get going because I’ve got some trash to take out!