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How PB & J Changed Our Marriage


I’ve been in charge of meal planning and cooking our whole married life, and most of the time, I do a decent job keeping up with that never-ending task. Early in our marriage, when I would fail in some area of that task, Joe would communicate his disappointment. He was expecting a nice dinner. He’d get cranky and give me the look.

Several years later, Joe made a huge adjustment in this area, and I remember it like yesterday because it impacted me so much. It had been a long day with little kids, and I hadn’t figured out how to get a meal on the table by the time Joe was home from work. I felt like a failure; I felt discouraged. So when Joe asked me about dinner, I told him, "I don’t know" and got ready for the look.

Instead he just hugged me, smiled, and said, “That’s all right. I can have PB & J.” My man, and his love for peanut butter and jelly. Do you know what a gift this is, that those three ingredients make him so content?

But that moment changed everything because it took all the pressure off. He had put no expectation on me that I had to do this and this to make him happy. My emotional well-being was more important than his desire for a nice dinner. It was not about his love for PB & J but all about his love for me. His contentment was a tangible act of love towards me.

That moment also made me rethink the expectations I had placed on him, expecting him to be this for me and do that for me and love me in this specific way. I would hinge my contentment on my husband’s ability to meet my expectations perfectly and then let him know when he had failed me.

When I look to my husband- or anyone- to meet my every expectation, I will always be disappointed. The more I expect from my husband, the more distracted I am from the One who does meet my needs the way no one else can. I need to place all my expectation and hope in Christ, who truly satisfies. When my needs are met in Him, I can take the pressure off of my husband and find contentment.

Joe and Tara Buchanan

Joe and Tara Buchanan have been married for 23 years and have four children. They have a passion for building strong marriages, and they share more of their story on their blog, Behind Our Smiles.

For He satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul He fills with good things. (Psalm 107:9)

In our marriage, lowering expectations has helped our love for each other grow. I want to serve my husband and make him happy, especially when he’s not expecting it! Joe can do nice things for me and not worry if he’s doing enough or doing it right. Those things become acts of love, not duty. And most importantly, I still love to make him his favorite dinner, which is grilled salmon with pineapple salsa, not peanut butter and jelly! 🙂