A question that comes up often in my talks with spouses is “When do I give up hope?” After all, if divorce isn’t an option and you can’t make your spouse do anything, what are the chances that they’re just going to “come around” and be the spouse we want them to be? At what point do you give up, settle for what you have, and just continue, waiting until one of you dies.
The problem is, I think the question is flawed. Often, we fail to state what it is we are hoping for. Either that, or we aren’t truthful with ourselves, or God, about what our hope really is. Early on in our marriage, when we were going through our sexless years, I hoped and prayed that my wife would suddenly have a ravenous sex drive. I hoped that she would want sex every morning, noon and night, and not be able to get enough of me, dragging me off to bed whenever we got a spare moment. That’s what I thought our marriage needed: an excessive amount of sex.
When we finally did resolve a lot of our issues regarding sex, we had daily sex for a while. Turns out that’s not what we needed. What we needed was intimacy, not just sex. More sex led to more intimacy, which did lead to more sex, but intimacy was the need, not just sex.
My point is, what I was hoping for was flawed, it wasn’t what I needed. In fact, my hope was for something unattainable and thus was unhealthy. Sometimes, we need to let go of the things are are hoping for, so that we can hope for something healthier. After all, hoping is a bit like praying, and praying (particularly when requesting something), is asking God for something. Sometimes, when we hope, we are asking God to give us something that would not be good for us. In these cases, we are asking God to sin, to go against His own will, and then we wonder why our prayers aren’t answered.
We should always be willing to let go of our desires, our prayers, our hopes, so that God can show us what our desires, prayers and hopes should be, because the Bible tells us that desires, hopes and prayers can be good things. After all, God has desires and hopes as well. His are mostly centered on us loving Him and His getting to spend eternity with us. Hoping for a restored relationship is good. Hoping for an improved marriage is good. Hoping for a shortcut to more sex without putting in the effort of improving the marriage. That’s bad. Hoping our spouse will just suddenly “flip” and turn our view of the the “perfect” spouse, probably bad as well. Our sense of “perfect” is usually way off.
So, should we give up hope? Never. Should we give up what we are hoping for? Sometimes.
Are there some hopes you need to exchange for godly ones?