love 1My husband Howell and I will be married 7 years this summer. I don’t want to gush, but in all sincerity, he is my greatest gift from God. We understand each other, even though our personalities are very different. I can’t remember the last time we had a fight, but it’s been weeks, maybe even months. I believe we have an extraordinary marriage, and when I really do think about it, I feel lucky.

But the Lord reminded me today that our journey to get here was paved with grace and forgiveness and hard work—not luck. During our two years of dating, we probably fought every day if not every other day—about something. Anything. And our first two or three years of marriage seemed only slightly better.

I was constantly offended; my feelings were always hurt. Generally, our arguments were based on this: I hoped/thought/expected that he would do/be/say X. And when he wasn’t doing/saying/being X, my feelings were deeply hurt. Clearly he didn’t love me because he if loved me, he would say/do/be X. And since he didn’t say/do/be X, I shouldn’t trust him, respect him, or love him either.

It was exhausting—for the both of us.

But today, our marriage is a source of joy and a safe place because we have chosen to persist in two major areas: expectations and forgiveness.

One of my issues—the creation of false expectations—was closely related to our culture’s view of love—our very false, very misplaced presentation and consumption of love: that love is romantic and fairytale, that love says your man will be transformed and will eventually—and at all times—meet your greatest desires with the right lines and big gestures.

So I had a lot of expectations about marriage and about Howell. Most of them were uncommunicated, too, so they became guesswork for him.

When we would argue, I would shut down, waiting for him to say the right line—the magical words. Read the script, Howell!

Of course, he didn’t know what his lines were supposed to be.

I remember one fight—a pretty serious one—where I left the house. I went to a park. I was hurting, and my instinct in our arguments was always to run. But in Hollywood, the boy always follows. He knows instinctively where she is. So I sat, and waited, and eventually (more angry than before), I went back home where my husband was also hurting and stressed out and unsure of what to do. I hadn’t given him the script then, either.

So maybe Hollywood and our culture are to blame, but the real ownership on my part comes from recognizing that my expectations were for Howell—not Jesus—to be my everything: to fill me, complete me, know me fully inside and out, comprehend my every thought and desire.

There is only one perfect man, and His name is Jesus. He made the greatest gesture any man could ever make for us; He became the ultimate example of self-sacrifice. Nothing trumps that. Nothing.

Stay tuned for Part 2 coming soon!

This post was written by Laura Brandenburg. To read more about her, click here