I’m willing to bet in every marriage there is one person that is cleaner than the other person. Who’s that in your marriage, you or your spouse?
In my marriage, Em is the clean one. She is always cleaning up after me. Heck sometimes I’ll be mid drink of my coffee and the next thing I know she’s rinsed out the mug and put it back on the shelf.
There are some spots that I really struggle with. One of those is my clothes. Between you and me, it’s really hard to put my clothes in the hamper….ugh it’s so far away. She does this fun little thing where if I leave my clothes laying on the ground she picks them up and puts them in the sink. :)
That’s better than where she used to put them. She used to put them in the trash and then I’d have to dig them out.
I get it though, I do leave my clothes laying around a lot. Actually, to be honest, I’m a pretty bad roommate. There are a lot of things that I do that have to be annoying to her. But yet, we never really fight about it and she chooses to love me every day in it.
What’s happening behind the scenes is this thing called the “expectation gap.” It’s where there is a gap between expectations and reality. For example, Em’s expectation is that I will pick up my clothes….the reality is I suck and don’t do it.
That space between expectation and reality is the expectation gap. What you put in that gap is so important. You can fill that gap with animosity, anger, rage, jealousy, grace, love, gentleness, humor, or something else.
But remember, you control what you put in that gap.
For Emily, she chooses to put love in that gap. I don’t know what goes through her head when she picks up my clothes and puts them in the sink, I can only imagine, but her actions say, “I’m not going to let this thing come between us.”
She fills in that gap with love.
That’s what love does. Even when it doesn’t make sense and I’m clearly in the wrong, she fills the gap with love. She doesn’t look at the expectation gap and get or keep score, instead, she sees the gap and fills it with love.
Paul talks about this a little differently, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Cor. 13:4–7
I’m starting to think this is the secret sauce to marriage. When there is an expectation gap try your best to fill it with love. Scratch that….I think this may be the secret sauce to all relationships.
Now it’s worth mentioning, there may be a point where the gap is too large and you just can’t fill it with love anymore. At that point, it’s important to talk with the person one-on-one and begin the process of Matthew 18.
Chances are you’re going to experience this expectation gap soon (it happens to everyone often). You may be experiencing it right now. How are you going to handle it? Will you fill it love?
Thankfully we have a God that saw a giant gap between our actions and his expectations and he chose to fill that gap with love. What if we returned the favor to the people in our lives today?
What would it look like to fill that gap in your life with love today?