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What Can You Expect?

By: Donna Martin

It is inevitable that when a couple gets married they will find out things about each other that they did not expect.  It may not happen right away or it may happen on their wedding night.  It might even be years into the marriage when they are surprised to find out something unexpected about their spouse. 

These unexpected discoveries could be good like a wonderful surprise package that you are thrilled to open.  They may make you proud of your spouse.  You may feel so thankful that you have married such a wonderful person.  Your discovery may brighten your day and make your steps a little lighter.

However, these unexpected discoveries might be irritating.  They may be habits or traits that irritate you.  You may be embarrassed to discover that your spouse exhibits such a behavior.  You may be disappointed.  You may be angry.

After much thought, we have determined that conflict and anger in a marriage is usually caused by some unmet expectation.  It can be an expectation about your spouse’s behavior, habits, or hobbies.  It could be an unmet expectation about what you dreamed your marriage would be.  It could be an unmet expectation about your children, your in-laws, your house, your career, or just the fact that you expected your husband to pick up the milk on his way home and he forgot (again).

When an unmet expectation causes conflict couples get angry.  Is it wrong to get angry?  No, even Jesus got angry.  The problem comes when we get angry and then do something or say something that we know we should not do or say.  In Psalms 4:6 and then again in Ephesians 4:26, the Bible tells us,”In your anger do not sin.”  Then in Ephesians 4, Paul gives us this list of things that will help us keep from sinning in our anger:

1. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.

2.  Do not let unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building up others.

3.  Get rid of bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander and every form of malice.

4.  Be kind and compassionate to one another.

5.  Forgive each other as Christ forgave you.

These 5 steps provide a good model for conflict resolution in marriage.  Working out our conflict before nightfall will keep us from brooding over something until we become more aggravated and bitter with our spouse.   When we communicate our concerns and disappointments in a loving, calm, adult manner without name calling we will more likely be able to work through the conflict.    When we are kind and treat our spouse with respect, most likely our spouse will return that same consideration to us.  And last but not least we must learn to forgive and forget.

The Martins currently present “Happy Together” marriages seminars for churches and organizations.  To schedule a seminar call Michael at 940-735-1515. They also publish a weekly “Happy Together” Blog about family and marriage issues.  You can order copies of their new books Dancing With Death and 366 Tidbits We Have Learned in 14,610 Days of Marriage, read, and subscribe to their “Happy Together” Blog by logging onto the Martin’s website at

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