Unreasonable Requests: Who me?


I can’t say that my requests from my wife are “unreasonable.” (At least not to me.)

The latest one: It’s my day off and I sat down to veg just for a moment and she decides it’s time to vacuum in front of the TV.  My request: “if you’re gonna do that in front of the TV, can you do that naked?”

Now that doesn’t sound too pastoral so I apologize for the shattered image of me I may have just developed.  BUT…
1. I’m human.
2. I love my wife.
3. I know it makes her laugh.
4. I’m kinda serious and hope she takes me up on the request.

She smiled and turned on the vacuum as if she was trying to suck the life out of the request.  I love that after almost 15 years, I can still make her laugh.  It has taken time, patience, and timely communication to do that.

If you were to ask me: I believe ALL of my requests are reasonable.

– Can you (insert random activity like folding laundry or cooking) naked?
– Can we have thanksgiving dinner once a week throughout the year?
– Can you rub my feet?
– Do you want to buy a bigger TV?
– Can we sell the children?
– Is there such thing as too much sex?
– Can I get a tattoo?
– Can we eat Tuna Helper at least once a week?

(I’m now noticing that most of my requests have to do with food and intimacy. Yep…that’s about right.)

Unfortunately, many couples struggle with the complexity  of “Unreasonable Requests”.  These requests are questions that convey needs and wants based upon the individual’s sense of reality. The requests, many times, comes from deep expectations of what marriage is and what it should look like. The expectations come in a variety of shapes and colors.  The problem: Expectations that are let down lead to resentment.  Resentment that  isn’t processed correctly leads to infection.  Infection leads to death.

Unrealistic expectations come from a gross amount of miscommunication and assumption. Many times couples step into marriage with the assumption things will work themselves out with a liberal application of time and patience.  Others assume that he/she should KNOW what is needed as if reading minds was a real ability

Do you have unrealistic expectations? Have any of these statements come out of your mouth?

“This is the way I was brought up. I should expect this because that’s what I’m used to.”
“Regardless of how my spouse grew up in their home, my parents did it this way and it worked for them.”
“I watch my friends husband/wife and they (insert action).  Why aren’t we more like them?”
“I do (insert activity) all day.  I should expect you to (insert activity).”
“This is who I am and this is what I need.”
“Biblically, you can’t say no.”
“I should get what I want. I work hard all day.”
“I noticed on facebook he/she does this. Why don’t you do more of that?”
“You’re not as romantic as the guy in the movie.” and the counterpart “I wish you had the sex drive of the girl in the movie.”

As silly as some of those sound, unrealistic expectations come from 2 things: 1. A false sense of reality and 2. A struggle to communicate. Some of that reality was brought into the marriage by the way you grew up.  Some of it is comes from the social sides of life. Other parts from the culture around you.

1. Get a healthy biblical view of marriage. TRUTH: Having a healthy biblical view of marriage helps become the filter for expectations. Just to name a few things: Learn how to serve your spouse (Ephesians 5:21).  Learn to put your spouse’s needs above your own (Philippians 2:3). Love him/her unconditionally (1 Corinthians 13). Forgive him/her frequently (Luke 17:3–4).  Confess your faults (James 5:16).

2. Have the guts to ask your spouse about your “requests”. If you refuse to do this step…you may have your answer all ready.  Humility is a priority in marriage. It doesn’t mean you’re a doormat.  It reveals your heart to your spouse.

3. Learn how to ask. Your mannerisms, your tones, and your words all go into the equation that make up a request AND can transform it into an unreasonable request.  Do you talk to your spouse in such a disrespectful way that they feel more like your child than your spouse? Does the way you ask sound as if your spouse should have known about it, and therefore, should feel shamed for not knowing the request?  Are you speaking in the language they understand (see 5 love languages)?

4. Know a proper way to respond.  Can you take getting a “no” from your requests? Better yet: Does your spouse have the freedom to tell you “no”?  If not, you are the unreasonable one.  Anne will say it’s my fault for saying “yes” to many times..lol. But there’s a lot of truth to that in marriage and parenting. Saying “no” is an art form. There are hurtful ways to say “no” and there are better ways to communicate “no” without shattering your spouse.  This comes from patience, communication, time, persistence, and forgiveness.

5. Show gratitude. Future requests are far less “unreasonable” when, no matter the response of “yes” or “no”, gratitude is shown. Gratitude paves the way for humility.  Show you’re thankful and that you are appreciative.

6. Develop a fun atmosphere of “ridiculous requests”.  WARNING: DO NOT TAKE THIS STEP WITHOUT TAKING TIME TO GET HEALED FROM UNREASONABLE REQUESTS.  Have fun using playful banter of some outlandish requests to set a tone of laughter and joy in your home.  Remember what I’ve always said: “The two elements in a successful marriage are laughter and Jesus.”

Thanks for letting me ramble…

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