15. No Returns, No Exchanges – The Gift Of Our Differences
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Summary: Tips for managing expectations in marriage
Hand in hand, the happy couple strolls the aisles of the department store, armed with their trusty scanner gun. BEEP! With the touch of a button, a shiny new espresso machine joins the hand painted dishes, sparkling stemware, and perfectly matched his-and-her towels on their computerized wish list. On their big day, they’ll get exactly what they want – including each other!
But marriage relationships, like wedding presents, don’t always measure up to our highest expectations. Flaws surface, cracks are created, and sometimes it feels like the operating manual is written in Mandarin. When the newness wears off, it’s tempting to think about returns or exchanges instead of cherishing what’s been given. In this video, Dr. Barb and Gary Rosberg discuss the importance of realistic expectations in marriage, and show you how to receive your mate as God’s perfect gift.
Dr. Gary and Barb Rosberg
Dr. Gary Rosberg: A few years ago, I was in a hardware store. Something broke in our house, and I was sitting there looking at the shelves and trying to pick out a piece to take it back and repair something, and a guy walked past me. He had a big parka on, and he said, “Rosberg, I know who you are. Hire it done.” And I thought, “You know what? My reputation goes before me.”
A lot of you wives marry a guy who is a lot different than your dad. Your dad could take a roll of duct tape and a Sears toolbox into the garage and put up the space shuttle. And then you marry a guy like me who just doesn’t have those skills. When something breaks in our house, I just say, “Put it in the garage sale pile, and let’s get over this thing.” But regardless of expectations, when we step into a marriage relationship - whether you are anticipating that, or you’ve been married for a while, - you may place an expectation that your spouse is going to be just like your parent, or whomever it is that you’re placing on that person as that expectation. Yet, we need to realize that when we get married, we can receive our mates as God’s perfect provision to complete us. And we can affirm their strengths, and even cover their weaknesses.
Barb Rosberg: Absolutely! Here are a couple of things that we have learned both in our thirty-five years of being married and also from coaching couples for many of those years. You can’t change your mate. In fact, in Galatians, it says this:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness…
…and other control. Or did I say that wrong? You can’t change your mate. No, the fruit of the Spirit is self-control. And the only person I can change – it’s not Gary, even though I may have good intentions, and I might want to cover his back – it is not in the Bible. It says this, that we are called to allow ourselves to be changed, and to experience the self-control of the Holy Spirit.
GR: You know, we’re all going to try to change each other, though, Barb. I mean, we’ve been married thirty-five years, and I know there are things you would love to change in me. But I think, when a marriage is growing and you look at those personality differences and those different expectations, you honor each other when the problems come by helping to cover that other person, by encouraging that person, by blessing that person, by really covering that person’s back.
BR: And you know when those differences really show up? It’s during stress. They’re magnified. For instance, when we get under stress in our home, it can become a real struggle for us. You may become very quiet and want to solve the problem, whereas, I may become more emotional and expressive and dramatic. But just about the time I get silent and I withdraw, that’s when you get very talkative and want to share it with everybody. It’s amazing how similar we are, but it’s when we’re under stress that those differences are exaggerated and it can be really hard on our marriage relationship.
Now, if you’ve been through this and you’re thinking, “I married the wrong person; maybe we weren’t supposed to get married,” that is a lie from Satan. It’s not true. Those differences are what expand you to complement one another in becoming one. And it’s a journey, as Gary said, of covering one another’s weaknesses.
GR: I think the bottom line is, we are different. And you know what? If we were the same, one of us might be unnecessary. And we’d prefer that not be the husband!
From “Marriage 101: Back to the Basics” DVD series