Won Without Words
winning the marriage you desire through wisdom

Shari Popejoy


January 17, 2011

The WORK of Marriage, Part 3 (Expectations)

I hinted that I’d tell you what annoyed me most about that sixty+ mile bike ride in the middle of August through the rolling hills of the Ozarks. My biggest frustration that day wasn’t with the heat, the hills, or the highway. My annoyance stemmed from a common frustration that occurs in many marriages because of the differences between men and women. My biggest frustration was with my husband, Marc. How could he have done that to me? Sixty miles is no big deal to a man who rode over three thousand miles last year. Got hills? No biggie. That’s challenging and exciting for a competitive man, who thrives on exerting himself and beating his personal best.

Except for the unavoidable labor of childbirth, my heart rate hadn’t been over a hundred in years. How could he possibly have thought it would be enjoyable for me? I ride for pure pleasure and enjoyment – not for the thrill of victory and accomplishment. How could he have placed me in a situation where I was forced to push myself to limits of endurance that were torturous?

I am competitive enough to complete what I start, and this was almost an impossible thing he had asked of me. It seemed that he had set me up for failure. I trusted him to tell me what I could handle, and I either had to admit I was weaker than he’d imagined, or kill myself trying to measure up. How could he have been so wrong about this ride? How could he have thought I would have enjoyed this? How could he even think I could handle it? How could our needs and expectations have been so far apart?

I stewed on this for many miles, and by the time the ride was finished, I was so exhausted, annoyed, frustrated and angry that I didn’t want to talk about it. I just wanted it to be over — to forget it, and to quietly harbor resentment and frustration in my heart. That would make me feel better — nursing a grudge always makes a person feel better, doesn’t it? Painful loneliness is always preferred to fun-loving forgiveness, isn’t it?

Have you ever had an idea or a perception that you were sure was right, and it controlled how you felt about your husband? Is it possible that you were wrong? What I didn’t know was that the route he’d researched was last year’s ride. He gets on all his cycling forums and looks at recommended rides, and does his research.

Turns out that Marc had researched the ride – but the route they’d posted was from the previous year. He knew that I could easily handle the challenge of a sixty-mile ride on pavement, and looked forward to this new adventure with me. It didn’t turn out like he expected, either. So, he arrives back at the truck after hauling his wife for sixty miles over hills in the heat of August, and on top of it, instead of making points with her, she’s visibly annoyed, exhausted, and is going to have some complaining sore muscles for several days.

To use this simple biking analogy, sometimes life’s journey is not what you are expecting, and you have to make some course adjustments, or push through and make it to the end, or maybe even get the SAG team to take you back to the truck, where you comfort each other in the mutual humiliation!

Just consider — if I’d let that August ride define Tandemness, I would have missed the fifty-mile October ride with my husband on the Katy Trail to the restaurant on the bluff overlooking the Missouri River. I’m glad I didn’t miss that!

Many of the difficulties of marriage arise from different expectations, different abilities, different strengths, different desires, different motivations, and differences in our enjoyment of mutual endeavors. We’ll talk about this in the next few posts, and perhaps we can gain a better understanding of our spouse as we begin to understand their perspective and needs in a different light.

We need to give our spouse a break and try to understand his perspective, or – conversely, we can get bitter and angry. If you choose bitterness, how’s that bitterness working for you? Having fun yet? Got hills?

Let’s take the down-hill route as we gain a few tools to help us understand our husband!


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Won Without Words by Shari Popejoy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at blog.wonwithoutwords.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.injoyinc.com/.

About the Author

Shari Popejoy
Shari Popejoy is the author of the book Won Without Words, and the blog Won Without Words, encouragement to wives. She writes the Livingstone Library, an adventure series for young people, and the blog Oh Joy!, (injoyinc.com/oh/) for busy moms. She is a frequent contributor to Christian print and online magazines, and writes from the quiet country of the Ozarks, where she lives with her husband, Marc, and their three children. You can find out all about her at sharipopejoy.com!


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