How did you read that title? Maybe you read it as ‘Dating God’ thinking this would be about having a relationship with the King of kings while dating someone. Maybe you read it as ‘Dating a god’ thinking this would be about what it’s like to date an exceptional person. Or maybe you read it as ‘The Dating god’ thinking this would be about the way we treat dating as an idol. This is about none of those and it is about all of those. This is about that crippling mistake we can make in both dating and marriage.
Has anyone ever failed to meet your expectations? You thought they would do something or they even promised to do it, but it never happened. Welcome to an imperfect world filled with imperfect people. Now, expectations can be a good thing. You should expect your employees to fulfill the responsibilities they agreed to by signing their contract. You should expect a certain quality of food and service depending on the price you’re paying at a restaurant. But when it comes to dating and marriage, expectations can take on a different tone. Certainly, its good for my wife to have healthy, biblical expectations of me. She expects me to hold to our wedding vows. She has expectations that I regularly take out the trash and who’s house we go to for Thanksgiving, because we have discussed those expectations. But in dating and marriage it’s the unspoken and unrealistic expectations that get us into trouble.
We can heap too many unspoken and unrealistic expectation on an individual. It wasn’t uncommon in middle school to hear of students writing long lists of what kind of guy or girl they wanted. Someone who was funny, good looking, strong, athletic, smart, etc. What kind of list do you have today? Maybe you haven’t written it out, but you probably have at least a few things that you’d look for. What our lists boil down to is someone who will meet our needs and desires. We can put so much weight into these lists and expectations, that we either don’t stay in a relationship very long or we just avoid such relationships all together. We can convince ourselves that we’ll never find “the one”.
And we never will. We will never find “the one” because the one that will perfectly meet all our expectations does not exist. We have unrealistic expectations on people, and dating in general, that cannot be lived up to. As Timothy Keller puts it in “The Meaning of Marriage”, “People are seeking a low-to-no-maintenance partner who meets your needs while making almost no claims on you.” This individual does not exist. We cannot make dating or the person we’re dating out to be a god, they will fail our expectations.
As I’ve said before on this blog, when it comes to marriage, two imperfect people coming together doesn’t make either one perfect. Marriage will not fulfill our spiritual needs through a spouse. We do not live “happily ever after.” Our flaws do not vanish. If anything, our flaws our amplified as we realize how selfish our spouse is and they realize how selfish we are. When our expectations are not met, we can become pessimistic toward dating and marriage because we’re too idealistic about what we want. Our gods deceive us into thinking they’re helping us when the reality is they hinder us. We must come to terms with our expectations, we must expose our gods so that we may walk more freely in dating and marriage.
What unrealistic and unspoken expectations do you have in dating and marriage? Do you expect your significant other to have a certain body type or a certain income? Do you expect them to never want to change you? Do you expect them to fulfill your spiritual and emotional needs 100% of the time? Take time to consider your expectations. You might need to let go of these gods and replace them with realistic and biblical expectations. Take time to talk these through with your spouse. You might even need to ask forgiveness for heaping unrealistic and unspoken expectations on them. It’s tough, but our relationship will be that much stronger and happier when we remove gods from dating and marriage.
It will take time, but we can remove those gods and replace them with the God. We can give those expectations up to God and let Him replace them with healthy and biblical ones. God can truly fulfill our needs. He knit us together and thus knows us better than we know ourselves. His love for us will never change. I’m not going to say that He’ll meet our expectations, because an imperfect being’s expectations of a perfect being don’t work. Since He knows us to our core, He’ll give us what we don’t even know that we need. He’ll bring that individual into our lives that will love us and will also challenge us to change so that we are more like Christ tomorrow than we are today. Don’t allow unrealistic and unspoken expectations to be deceiving gods in your relationship. Allow the One God to be your guide and give you holy desires for another.