Saturday, June 25, 2016

Going Viral: The Virus of Unmet Expectations

Written by my husband, Ken Alexander

Lori's recent viral post struck a chord where women on both sides of the issue lined up to voice their agreement or stark disagreement over a husband's responsibility towards household chores. A few days later, it made it to the Daily Mail news source out of the UK titled Blogger is blasted over 'outdated' advice for a happy marriage as she urges women to 'do your housework cheerfully'. The reason it struck such a viral cord is twofold: First because it did not fit with the progressive women's agenda when Lori teaches that a wife married to a husband unwilling to meet her expectations should just take the high road and love him anyway. Second, because this is one of the hottest sources of frustration for most wives in the modern world. 

In my early years of marriage, Lori was often frustrated with me as her perception was that I was not doing enough to help her. I was at the time struggling to build a consulting firm and my head was stressed to its max as I raced across the US and Europe seeking success and security that comes from a good reputation. Hardly was I focused on housework after working a sixty hour week, and to be honest, I really detested household chores. But I had no issues caring for the kids, or cooking meals, and vacuuming. But dishes and cleaning was not my idea of my role in the relationship. 

Too often the root of this frustration came to Lori after talking to a family member or friend who helped to create the heart of the unmet expectations. I recall having a wonderful weekend with my wife, enjoying each other and the kids, and walking along in harmony together. I left on a trip and just after I got the the hotel in New York City, I grabbed the telephone and dialed the woman I had just spent a great week with. Looking out over Central Park from the 18th story with the lights surrounding it and darkness at the center, Lori answered the phone.

How's it going babes?

Oh, I'm fine?

Did you have a good day?

It was fine.

Well I had a good trip out, and my client put me up in a really nice hotel room overlooking the Park. It's way too expensive, but a really nice view. I wish you were here to share it with me!

Ya, you know Ken, you really don't help me enough around the house. We have four kids now and you know my stomach is not well. You really need to help me more.

Oh, WOW! Where is that coming from? You know I help a lot with the kids, and when you are sick I often cook the meals and take care of things. I don't get what you want from me? What happened between the time I left you this morning and I landed in NY?

I was talking to a friend today and she told me that you really should be helping me more. What I need is more help. My friend's and sisters' husbands help their wives more. 

Wait a second. You are telling me that when I kissed you goodbye today, you were doing great with our relationship and fine with how much I was helping around the house? Somehow between that moment and now you have talked to someone and you are upset over our relationship?  I don't know what to tell you, but I don't understand how your friends have anything to do with us and how we live out our marriage together.

Unmet expectations will kill any relationship. Lori's post hits the nail on the head, that many wives are dissatisfied with their husband's efforts to help them around the home. It is into this angry cauldron of frustration that Lori's post struck a cord, and those who are frustrated, or controlling, or just angry feminists lashed out at the clear and appropriate message that Lori gave.

And guess who gets to decide how much housework is "their fair share?" The wife does! And if it is not enough, or not done in the right timing, she gets to delve out the punishment of a bad mood, upsets, headaches and withholding affection. After all, my needs are not being met, so if you want me happy, you will do as I tell you to do. It would be an interesting survey to discover what most men think about housework and their wife's moods to control them in this area of the marriage.

What Lori did say was, if you expect your man to help more around the home, and your expectations go unmet, don't allow this to destroy your relationship, as so many young wives have a tendency to do. You may also discover that your husband is not the cause of your upsets, but instead it is your own unsubmissive heart that God desires change by His Word, to make you and your marriage more like Jesus. 

This is our story. We could not be happier with each other now, yet we suffered needlessly with unmet expectations destroying our harmony and intimacy. Did you ever think that true love and intimacy comes from accepting your spouse just the way they are, flaws, foibles and all, yet praying that God will do His mighty work in their hearts to help turn them into the man or wife of your dreams? And all the while much of the real journey is God's work in your own life, helping to use marriage and your spouse to make you more like Jesus, and show you what it means to truly love one another.

This same Jesus taught us to be servants, to expect little of others, to give grace upon grace, and to lay down our lives for our friends. But when expectations are unmet, will you continue to allow them to ruin the very thing you are looking for in love and intimacy?  Or will you put your own perceived needs aside for the good of the relationship, and to try to win your spouse by heaping love upon the heartache? By seeking their good even when they are not always in tune with what is best for you? 

This looks much more like the Jesus I know and love. The one who gave his life for others, and washed their feet first. I am also grateful for a wife who after 20 years of being disappointed in me finally deciding to try things God's ways in pleasing her man. Helping me to grow a heart much more like Jesus, and a joyful marriage done God's ways, with no nagging or bitterness, just love and acceptance.

Go ahead, and make your husband's life as happy as you can, because in doing so you become the big winner as God makes you more like Jesus. Then trust that God will do his mighty work in your man's heart as you invest the love and life of Jesus in him. Who knows, maybe he will indeed be won by the promise of God, as I was, to fall head over heels in love with my wife, even more than the day we were married. At the heart of marriage is vulnerability, and until we are ready to let go of our own selfish expectations and put the other spouse first, we can never find that same unconditional love that God gives to us every day, in Christ Jesus. 

"Why do two become one if life is trials and fears? 
If minds and hearts become stunned, by the person we hold so dear?
The answer lies in love you see, struggles will help us grow,
For only through pain it seems can be, the commitment of love that two can know.
We can't forget love's purpose here, for Christ is the one we wed,
He's the one who holds us dear, my Lord is the one who says,
"Take my hand I will lead you on, through joy and sorrow loves endeavor,
I am by your side the victory is won, your lives are mine together."
Ken Alexander, 1980 (our wedding day)

If any one would be first, he must be last, and the servant of all.
Mark 9:35