What did you expect?

“I just didn’t think it would be like this, ” Mary said. She looked completely exhausted and defeated.

Sam just looked angry. He didn’t want to be with me talking about his marriage to Mary. In fact, if the truth be told, he didn’t want to be married to Mary. He’d had i! “Fifteen years—fifteen years!—and this is what I get?”

Mary refused to answer; she just sat there and sobbed.

“Look what my hard work gave you. No one you know lives in a house like yours. No one you know has the things I’ve provided for you. No one has had the wonderful experiences around the world that I’ve given you. But, no, it’s never enough. Mary, I’m tired of your constant complaining. I’m tired of daily criticism. I just don’t want to do this anymore, and I don’t think you do either, ” Sam said, as his voice trailed off.

I looked at Sam and Mary, and I knew it had not always been like this. I’ve sat with many couples while they were in the process of considering marriage, which has often been a bit of a frustrating experience for me. No, I haven’t been frustrated because they were “madly” in love; I think it’s wonderful when a man and woman adore one another. I think it’s wonderful when they decide to spend their lives with one another. I understand that in the throes of the romance of the moment, they find it hard to concentrate on the preparatory work that needs to get done. None of this has frustrated me. I think that deep mutual affection is a beautiful thing.

Here’s what has frustrated me again and again: unrealistic expectations. There—I’ve said it. I am persuaded that it is more regular than irregular for couples to get married with unrealistic expectations. Again and again I have sat with couples who simply do not seem to be taking seriously the important things the Bible has to say about what every marriage will encounter in the here and now. Unrealistic expectations always lead to disappointment.

These are the opening paragraphs of Paul David Tripp’s book, “What Did You Expect?”

This book has played an important part in transforming my own marriage into one that is filled with more love, grace, and understanding. Our journey to become more like Christ and show His love and grace to each other is definitely an ongoing process, but this book has greatly helped us move in the right direction. For those who haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.

On March 18-19 those in the Aurora, IL area can hear Paul Tripp speak in person from the principles in his book, “What Did You Expect?”. He brings a biblically-focused message that is both challenging and hope-filled. There are many books and authors that speak about the secondary issues of marriage, such as better communication, conflict resolution, financial responsibility, sexual intimacy, etc., but not many that get to the core of what makes a healthy, Christ-centered marriage. Paul Tripp does that. If you’ve tried working on your “secondary” issues over and over but don’t seem to make lasting progress, this conference is for you. If you are contemplating marriage, or just starting your marriage, this conference will help build a solid foundation. If your marriage is struggling and you feel that you’ve run out of options and don’t know what to do, I urge you to come to this conference. I only ask that you come ready and willing to hear what God would want to speak to your heart.

Here is the information to sign up for the “What Did You Expect?” marriage conference:

Crossroads Worship Center
3003 South Eola Road
Aurora, IL 60503

Friday, March 18th

Saturday March 19th

$10 per person
Limited chilcare available for $5 per child. Ask for details.

Call Jan Knutsen at
(630) 585-7777


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