A couple of years ago, I was chatting with a young man who was sharing how the ministry had really helped him recover from a terrible divorce. He was saying that he just didn't understand what had gone wrong in his five-year marriage. "After all," he said, "we met through a very reputable matchmaking website. I guess I am living proof that those sites don't really work."
He went on to tell how he had filled out the profile and that his computer-matched wife had every quality he desired in a woman. As I listened, I could just imagine him filling out the profile much like one might custom order a car. He wanted a blond woman who loved the outdoors and quiet walks on the beach.
Perhaps he also ordered a woman who liked to keep a clean house, cook, and wanted exactly 3.5 children—two boys and one and a half girls! He even told me that he was able to request that she be of a certain Christian denomination.
Apparently, their problems began during the second year of their marriage when he realized that she didn't really meet all of his standards. He still wasn't sure if she had lied on the profile, or changed after they had gotten married, or if the system itself was flawed. He actually said to me, "They never asked 'are you willing to be there when your husband needs you?'"
This young man is a prime example of how people enter relationships with set standards and expectations. When people do not meet the standards we set, we become disenchanted with the relationship, allowing disappointment and frustration to set in. It's easy to get along with people when everything is going great and others are acting exactly the way we want them to. But what happens when something goes wrong and our feelings get hurt? If you're not careful, you'll begin to focus on the unmet expectations which will affect your attitude, and ultimately, your relationship.
But it doesn't have to be that way if we will just learn to have realistic expectations and let people off the hook. We can avoid a lot of heartache by simply giving people room to be human. We have to accept the fact that nobody is perfect, and even the best people will fail us at times. We have to choose forgiveness because it is not up to anyone in our lives to keep us happy; that is our own responsibility.
Too often, we want our mate to cheer us up when we are down; we expect our partner to always be loving and kind. We expect our boss to recognize our hard work and our friends to always be there for us. But those are unrealistic expectations. The perfect spouse does not exist, nor does the perfect boss, nor the perfect friend.
We would avoid a lot of disappointments by simply understanding that no matter how much we love people, no matter how much they love us, at some point, they won't live up to our expectations, or they will hurt our feelings in some way. But when we get our eyes off their shortcomings and on to Jesus, we open the door for His grace and healing in our relationships. We open the door for love which is all that matters in eternity.