There are countless times in my marriage when I’ve thought, “I have every right to ___________” or “I totally deserve to ___________.” It’s no mystery that marriage is about compromise and submitting to one another (Eph. 5:21), but one of the hardest parts of practically doing that is to lay down our rights.
Our right to be appreciated when we feel we should be.
Our right to be have a day off when we feel like we’re having it harder than our husbands.
Our right to have help around the house when we feel like we’ve been doing everything for the family.
Our right to react in the way we want and express all our emotions. (Hello, PMS.)
The past two weeks have been all about this for me and surprisingly for those around me as well. Please don’t get me wrong. We should be appreciated, get a break and have help around the house. We should feel loved and cared for…BUT when we start to feel the resentment rise up in our hearts because our expectations haven’t been fulfilled it’s possible that the problem lies in our own hearts.
I heard this quote the other day, and it’s been ringing in my ears since –
Expectations are premeditated resentments… Lower your expectations to only cover yourself.
WHOA, right? When our expectations of our husbands go unfulfilled, the natural reaction is to feel resentment. Does that mean we shouldn’t have any expectations? Of course not, but it could mean that we have lower or fewer expectations of them. It could mean that we show grace when they fail to live up to our expectations. It could mean that we don’t hold our disappointments against them or define their character by them (I struggle with this one the most). It’s not easy to lay down our rights. It requires lots of pride swallowing, lots of tongue biting, but most importantly, lots of looking at Christ, remembering what He did for us and having our hearts changed.
He laid down all his rights when he came down to earth to be born as a babe. His right to be in heaven next to His Father. His right to be fully known and worshiped while He lived on earth. His right to defend Himself. His right to receive unrequited love from those He loved unconditionally. His right to not be forsaken. He laid it all down because He loved us with an incredible, sacrificial love. He laid it all down willingly. His love motivates us, no, compels us to love our husbands by laying down our rights.
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross! (Phil. 2:1-11)
Laying down our rights may not result in immediate change in our husbands or maybe no change at all, but we are not without hope! In becoming like Christ through our marriages, we learn that He is our hope and our reward.