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“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s how you carry it.”

It was summer 1996 and these were the words of my Senior Drill Instructor, Staff Sergeant James Porter.  He was demonstrating to my boot camp platoon how to properly carry our Marine Corps “pack” in preparation for the long days of hiking ahead.  For our next phase of training, we would spend some time in the mountains and hills over San Diego with more than 80lbs on our back.  I watched as those who took his advice and instruction thrived, while those who did not failed.

As a husband, there are many weights in my pack; however experience has taught me that one of these weights is typically larger than the rest:  expectations.

These expectations are typically broken down into two parts.

First, what do I expect my wife to do? (my expectations)

Second, what does she actually do? (her behavior)

In my short 19 years of marriage I have learned this one basic lesson: There is always a gap between expectations and behavior.  Maybe this gap is there because of how things were done with my family or how things where done in her family. Maybe this gap is there because of something I have failed to communicate. Regardless of the reason, the gap is there.

But here is the bigger issue: I will typically fill that gap with one of two responses: I can believe the best about her OR I can assume the worst about her.

I want to be clear… what we choose to put in that gap is fundamental to the health of our marriages. Our relationships will grow or fade depending on what we choose to put in that gap.

Stephen Kendrick, author of the best-selling book The Love Dare beautifully states, “Love chooses to believe the best about people. It gives them the benefit of the doubt. It refuses to fill in the unknowns with negative assumptions.” Centuries before Stephen wrote his words, the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Church at Corinth, boldly declared, “Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.”

Love demands we fill in the gap by believing the best.

When we assume the worst, our pack becomes heavier. Thankfully, we can lighten our pack by communicating our expectations and assuming the best! Remember, “It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s how you carry it.”

Brad Flurry
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