Unfulfilled expectations may leave us feeling disappointed and resentful
These are the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham fathered Isaac, and Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah … to be his wife. And Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife, because she was barren. And the Lord granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived. (Genesis 25:19–21)
Isaac and Rebekah seemed like the perfect couple. Their future looked bright. They started their relationship with love. But something went missing. God had promised the blessing of children through Isaac, and there were none. Do the math after reading on a few verses to Genesis 25:26 and you will discover that Isaac and Rebekah had been married twenty years before Rebekah became pregnant. This was not what either of them expected.1
We have a somewhat better understanding of conception now, but in ancient days if there were no children, people would conclude that something was wrong with the woman. Scripture records nothing to indicate whether Rebekah communicated the disappointment of her barrenness with Isaac, nor does it indicate if Isaac offered understanding support. But twenty years is an extremely long time and it is safe to conclude that Rebekah suffered because of her childlessness.2
Think of the pressure Rebekah must have felt. When you consider that Isaac knew of God’s promise to his father Abraham that a great nation was to come through Isaac, the expectation on Rebekah to produce a son had to be overwhelming. Tension between these two built up over the years, leading to poor communication between them.3
Consider your military marriage. What did you expect when you married a military man? Kay expected to see the world, but her husband’s first assignment was three hours from her hometown. Annie thought that since her husband did not have to punch a time card anymore, and worked a mile away, he would be available 24/7. Carrie thought she would be able to have her pick of any of the houses on her military installation. Melinda thought filling out a military dream sheet meant her family would have their pick of assignments. Shanna thought she would be the most important priority of her husband—and then duty called.
Unfulfilled expectations may leave us feeling disappointed and resentful. As we replace hopes and dreams with sadness, tension, anger, or conflict, we can become trapped in the breeding ground of poor communication. It may encourage us to realize that Isaac and Rebekah, whose marriage was a part of God’s divine plan, struggled with unfulfilled expectations too. We can choose to respond differently than they did, for sharing disappointments honestly with our spouse can actually enhance our understanding of each other and strengthen our relationship.
What were some of your preconceived expectations of marriage? What expectations did you have for life as a military wife? How do you manage unfulfilled expectations?
Prayer for the Journey
Lord, protect my marriage from the disappointment of unfulfilled expectations. Help us to identify any issue that keeps us from communicating with honesty. Amen.
1 Bill T. Arnold, The New Cambridge Bible Commentary: Genesis (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 231.
2 Robert Alter, Genesis: Translation and Commentary (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1996), 128.
3 Paul Herring, “Isaac and Rebekah: A Failure to Communicate,” Global Truth International, http://globaltruthinternational.com/2012/11/15/isaac-and-rebekah-a-failure-to-communicate/, accessed May 20, 2015.