6 Ways Your Unrealistic Expectations Hurt Your Husband

6 Ways Your Unrealistic Expectations Hurt Your Husband

Without any effort, expectations latch onto us before we ever get married. He must always be romantic, meet all of our emotional needs, take out the trash, manage the finances and make sure we have a fantastic and consistent date night. Together, we will have well behaved children, and live in an always clean and beautifully furnished dream home.

Sound familiar? Prior to meeting Mr. Wonderful, we’ve already mentally forced him into a box we crafted from our conscious and unconscious expectations. Pitted up against our expectations, reality will never measure up, leaving us disappointed.

So exactly what are we supposed to do with our ideals? Should we communicate our our unmet expectations to our husbands or simply abandon them altogether?

In fact, we see this illustrated in scripture through the life of Hannah. 1 Samuel 1:5 tells us that “the Lord closed her womb.” Then in 1 Samuel 1:8 we get a glimpse of how her unfulfilled expectations impacted her marriage. “Her husband Elkanah would say to her, “Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?”

Hannah’s expectations collided with reality and left her devastated to the point of not eating. In response, we see a husband who loved his wife, but was powerless to impact her longing to become a mother. Instead of pointing Hannah to God, Elkanah mistakenly pointed her to himself as the solution for her pain.

This is a mistake we too may be tempted to make in marriage. We may look to our husbands to fulfill expectations when the best place to take them is our heavenly Father in prayer. Taking them to our spouse may have negative consequences. Here are 6 ways expectations can negatively impact a husband.

  • #1 Unrealistic Expectations Destroy His Confidence

    #1 Unrealistic Expectations Destroy His Confidence

    It is very difficult for a husband to compete with expectations that may simply be out of his reach to fulfill. Although he may try, eventually he will come to the realization that he is no match for his wife’s ideals. Overwhelmed by a feeling of defeat, he may begin to believe he will never measure up.

    Wives, we have to stop ourselves from destroying our husband’s confidence. Let him know when you’re thankful for something he’s done. Better yet, let him know how much you love and appreciate him just for who he is. 

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  • #2 Unrealistic Expectations Kill His Communication

    #2 Unrealistic Expectations Kill His Communication

    If a man feels like he is unable to fulfill his wife’s expectations, one of the first things to go is communication. Withdrawing may become his goto coping mechanism. If he feels like a failure, hopeless, broken, or afraid he may deem emotional vulnerability too great a risk to take.

    One way to combat this is to ask his opinions on decisions you are making or ask for his thoughts on something you are studying in Scripture or trying to figure out in your head. Letting him know his opinion matters keeps those lines of communication open and lets him know you value his thoughts.

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  • #3 Unrealistic Expectations Wound His Heart

    #3 Unrealistic Expectations Wound His Heart

    Contrary to the tough exterior of a man, beneath his outward persona you will find a basic need to be valued and respected. If a man is emotionally healthy and feels safe, respected, and loved by his wife he will share his heart with her. However, when he feels wounded (whether done intentionally or unintentionally) he will erect a wall around his heart. How a wife communicates her expectations to her husband has the potential to create such a wound.

    Ask yourself: do I constantly communicate unmet expectations, without ever saying thank you for all the ways my husband does meet my needs? Sometimes, all we need is to reframe our situation to find gratitude and thankfulness for the spouse God has given us.

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  • #4 Unrealistic Expectations Undermine His Effort

    #4 Unrealistic Expectations Undermine His Effort

    No one flourishes under constant criticism, especially a man. If, he feels crushed by the reality of out of reach expectations, a man may cease to try. He may reason that since he can’t meet the financial, relational, or spiritual expectations of his wife he should just give up.

    The next time you see your husband trying, don’t be quick to offer critique. Instead, be thankful for the effort he is making. If your standards are so hard to meet that even an attempt is meant with scorn, it won’t be long before your husband just stops trying. 

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  • #5 Unrealistic Expectations Deflate His Courage

    #5 Unrealistic Expectations Deflate His Courage

    The fear of failure plagues many men who have stopped being being Mr. Wonderful in the eyes of their wife. He may deem himself the antithesis of what he once was and consequently, the fear of making matters worse may silently haunt him. This may result in a man who feels defeated and afraid to take risk in his marriage, career, and life itself.

    Praise your husband when he takes big leaps of faith and when he does something unexpected. Let him know you see his courage and are thankful for it.

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  • #6 Unrealistic Expectations Hurt His Faith

    #6 Unrealistic Expectations Hurt His Faith

    A man who is unable to meet his wife's spiritual expectations of him may choose to walk away from his faith. The more she communicates her frustration with his lack of spiritual leadership in the home the less motivated he will be to lead in that area. He may even choose to walk away from his faith completely; seeing it more as a measuring stick of his manhood than a source of strength to lean on.

    If we find ourselves overwhelmed by unfulfilled expectations in marriage we must recognize that God, and not our husbands, is the one who can handle our expectations and do something about them. Hannah discovered this in 1 Samuel 1: 10 - 11 (NIV) when she took her concerns to the Lord in prayer.

    “In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life. . .”

    Like Hannah, we too must lay everyone of our expectations before God, trusting that as we delight in Him (no matter what our circumstance) He will give us the desires of our heart as they begin to line up with His. Psalms 37:4 (NIV)


    Kia Stephens is a wife and homeschooling mama of two who is passionate about helping women know God as Father. For this reason, she created The Father Swap Blog to be a source of encouragement, healing, and practical wisdom for women dealing with the effects of a physically or emotionally absent father. Each week through practical and biblically sound teaching she encourages women to exchange father wounds for the love of God the Father. Download Kia's free ebook, Hope for the Woman With Father Wounds here. Additionally, you can connect with Kia on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.