We want what we want. But, as adults, we also realize we don’t get everything we want. And part of maturity is learning how to manage our expectations – neither demanding nor giving up prematurely those things we want.
To be sure, we’re not the center of the universe and we’re not entitled to have something just because we want it. It’s unrealistic to expect otherwise. But we must still figure out what to do with our desires.
On the one hand, some become demanding – believing that life and others simply owe it to them to give them what they want. Seeing the frustration this brings, others then opt to give up their desires altogether – believing they would be happier if they just didn’t want so much.
The third path is discerning the true heart behind our desires. What are simply our preferences? And what are our deeply held convictions? We hold our preferences loosely while holding tightly to our convictions.
For example, we might want a better sex life. But simply demanding more sex doesn’t create the atmosphere of love our sex life needs to thrive. At the same time, the answer is not to just give up in resignation and resentment.
In discerning the heart of our desires, we hold tightly to fighting for a meaningful and satisfying sex life, while holding loosely our particular preferences. We might have to give up our desire to swing from the chandeliers as it were, but this doesn’t mean we have to give up exploring other creative ways to connect.
And this allows us to reasonably manage our expectations. It’s not realistic to expect to have every quirky interest we want. But it is reasonable to expect this to be an important part of our marriage worth fighting for.
Whatever it looks like, rightly managing our expectations is the only way to advance love, as it calls us to pursue true goodness and not merely what we want.
It’s okay to expect a commitment to move toward God’s best. But it’s not okay to demand things always go our way or to give up altogether.