By Mindy Jones, Crosswalk.com
Do you ever find yourself setting unrealistic expectations for Valentine’s Day? For some, this day is something that you look forward to, and they are so excited to see what unfolds!
For others, it could be a source of tension or lead to a spirit of discontentment. That could be from unmet expectations, comparing your relationship to others, or wanting to avoid the day altogether. There are many ways to protect yourself from unrealistic expectations this Valentine’s Day! Let’s look at a few and hopefully have a new focus on this day.
1. Read God’s Word
The number one way to protect yourself from unrealistic expectations this Valentine’s Day is to ensure you are in God’s Word. When you read the Bible and let it transform your mind, you won’t be focused on your own needs.
When you are more focused on the needs of others, those unrealistic expectations you have set in your mind begin to bend to God’s truth. Then you start to focus on how you can serve others as He has called you to do.
Sometimes the source of our discontentment comes from thinking of “love” in worldly terms. But what does the Bible say about love? God is love, and He is always faithful. Love is Him sending His Son Jesus to die on the cross for us. That should be our cornerstone of what love is, and we should form our thoughts and opinions around that.
When we do both of these things - think of love God’s way and focus on others - it can really help us let go of those unrealistic expectations and enjoy time with our significant other this Valentine’s Day!
2. Create an Attitude of Gratitude
Now that you’ve got your focus on what God says about love, it will automatically create an attitude of gratitude in you! Unrealistic expectations brew from a spirit of discontentment, and to battle that, you need to approach this holiday with thanksgiving. Be thankful for where you are in your marriage and what God has done in your life.
It’s hard to be sour about something when you go down the long, long, LONG list of things you can be thankful for. There are many Scriptures to read and meditate on in the Bible, and I would encourage you to let those rule in your hearts and let them transform your mind.
3. Communicate Expectations
Something so important in any relationship, marriage or not, is communication. And not just communication itself but how you communicate. One of my favorite quotes is, “you can be right at the wrong tone of voice.” So true!
Rather than being upset at your significant other because they didn’t meet your expectations this Valentine’s Day- tell them! If you want to be taken out to dinner, make a home-cooked meal, or receive flowers, simply tell your spouse. No one is a mind reader; this is a foolproof way to avoid unmet expectations.
However, before you do that, make sure you are going back to numbers 1 and 2 so you can identify what your expectations should be. We can’t expect our spouses to do everything, but we can communicate with them things we would like or enjoy and ask them the same. You have goodwill toward one another, right? Then when you both focus on each other’s needs because you have communicated them clearly, you can enjoy whatever comes your way!
4. Avoid Temptations to Be Discontent
This is a big one, especially for us ladies around Valentine’s Day. Sometimes we think of temptation in this way being something men struggle with. And while men and women are created differently, and this is a real struggle for them, there are so many temptations for women too!
Be careful what you read, listen to, watch, and guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. You may not be receiving what you think you “want” or “need,” especially during Valentine’s Day, so you read a book that shows those needs being met. It could be an innocent love story in a book or a movie. But suppose it’s brewing discontentment in you, and you find yourself fantasizing or imagining yourself in that story. In that case, that’s an emotional boundary you are crossing, and it needs to be brought before the Lord. Craving something fictional or not real begins to bend your mind towards what? Things that are fictional, not real, and you begin to have expectations that NO one can meet. People running through the streets of New York to make it just in time before the person they love leaves on a plane forever - yeah, that doesn’t happen in real life!
Real love sacrifices. Real love takes care of one another, gets up when the baby needs to be fed, grabs groceries on the way home, and goes to work every day to provide for your family. That’s what you should be content with! And ultimately, real and TRUE contentment can only be found in Christ, no person here on Earth.
Remember the old saying, “be careful little eyes, mouth, and ears what you see, say, hear?” This is true even for adults and can help you avoid giving Satan a foothold in your life.
5. Don’t Compare Your Relationship
One of the biggest pitfalls we can fall into in our marriages and relationships is to compare them to others. Whether you are comparing your spouse to another person, or your relationship as a whole, it’s a surefire way to plant a seed of discontentment in your mind.
You may see other couples and the fun and wonderful trips they take on Valentine’s Day and wonder why you only get a dinner out, and that’s it. Or maybe you see social media, which is a whole other topic on its own, and the picture-perfect houses and marriages. But something to remember is you are just seeing the highlight real from others. They aren’t showing the tough times, the hurt, or the struggles they may be facing.
So how do you combat this need to compare yourself or your relationship to others? Begin to thank God for your relationship with your spouse, and ask Him to plant a desire in both of your hearts to show that love to one another. Guess what? God knows your spouse better than you do, and even you! He created you both. Ask Him for new and creative ways to love your spouse and begin to live in that joy found there. Maybe you see something fun that another couple is doing - that doesn’t mean you sit back and wish you could too. There’s nothing wrong with saying to your spouse, “Hey! Did you see that [Name] went to that new game place? Maybe we could go there too; I think we’d enjoy it!” Do you see how that is different from, “[Name] went to that new place, and you never take me anywhere. Why can’t we go?” I bet you’ll get a much better response from the first one, right?
Be the change you want to see in your relationship because there is always room to grow and improve. Stop and take time to thank God for where you are, and remember to go back to 1 and 2 when these thoughts creep in.
I pray that these five simple tips help keep you from unrealistic expectations not only this Valentine’s Day but every day of the year! Remember to thank God for where you are, communicate clearly with your spouse and view things from the lens of Scripture.
Mindy Jones is a Christ-follower, loving wife, and stay-at-home mom. She is a graduate of Campbellsville University with a Major in Business Administration and a love for writing. Her mission is to guide Christian moms in being more intentional in their faith, family, and homes with practical tips and authenticity! She hopes to inspire moms to be fervent in raising children who love the Lord, offering tons of activities and resources to do so on her website, Mindy Jones Blog.