Mark Altrogge posts this helpful piece on What You Really Need In Marriage at his blog The Blazing Center:
Our culture is extremely self-oriented. We are continually bombarded by messages that tell us we need greater self-esteem. We begin to think, I need to do this for me, I need to be validated, I need to feel good about myself, I need to think about my desires for a change, etc.
It’s so easy to bring this mentality into marriage. We can think we “need” certain things from our spouse. But in reality, we often take our desires, which may not be wrong in themselves, and elevate them to the level of “need.” “I want” becomes “I won’t be happy unless I get…”
Of course, there’s a place for talking to your spouse about your desires. There are things husbands and wives should do for one another. They should serve one another. They should seek to bless each other. Each should bear their share of the load of caring for the children and household chores.
But be careful with desires. But what if your spouse fails to meet your desires?
I would first ask this: how much do believers in Jesus really “need” from their wives or husbands? I would submit that you DON’T “need” your spouse:
To satisfy you
To serve you
To make you feel good about yourself
To meet all your expectations
To fulfill you
It’s wonderful if you have a wife or husband who cares for you, serves you and blesses you. But remember, ultimately no human being can meet all of another human being’s needs. No human being can satisfy another human. It’s just not going to happen. Only God can meet all our needs and truly satisfy us.
We take vows to love our spouse for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in good times and bad. What will you do if your spouse gets hurt or sick and is completely unable to do anything for you? What if you have to care for him or her for years? You will have to look to the Lord for contentment, satisfaction and joy.
So what do you really need?
To love your spouse. Husbands, God commands you to love your wife, as Christ loved the church and laid down his life for her. Believers are all called to love one another and look to the interests of others. We’re not called to make sure others are serving us and looking to our interests.
To be a servant. Rather than dwelling on how much your spouse is serving you, determine to be the biggest servant in the house. And serve as unto the Lord, knowing that he will reward you.
To be patient and long-suffering
To ask forgiveness
You need grace
AND you also need:
To have low expectations. Yes, there are things husbands and wives should do for one another. Most of us do them very imperfectly. If you have high expectations, then you’ll constantly be disappointed and frustrated.
To expect your spouse to have many weaknesses and failures.
To expect your spouse to be slow to change. Even believers who pursue God wholeheartedly change slowly. Sanctification is a long process. Character doesn’t change overnight.
If you are frustrated, examine what it is you aren’t getting. Have you taken a desire, perhaps a legitimate one, and elevated it to the status of a need? Are you seeking a human to satisfy you or are you seeking to be content in Jesus?