It Looked Different in the Picture




It Looked Different in the Picture

In Marriage, Unrealistic Expectations Can Set Couples Up for Disappointment, Write Dr. Paul and Terrie Chappell in New Marriage Guide ‘Are We There Yet?’


LOS ANGELES—Some husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends may have experienced a disappointing Valentine’s Day last week because of the expectations they had set up in their minds for a perfect romantic holiday that perhaps didn’t end up quite the way they planned.

Such is the case with marriage itself sometimes.

Dr. Paul Chappell and his wife of 37 years, Terrie, write about expectations and how they can often fall short of reality in their new travel-themed marriage guide Are We There Yet? Marriage—a Perfect Journey for Imperfect Couples.” Dr. Chappell also recently authored a commentary for The Christian Post about expectations in marriage—especially timely as February is National Marriage Month.

He shared a humorous story about how a picturesque expectation of horseback riding on the beach in Mexico fell woefully short. While they can laugh about it today—and learned not to be so trusting of the pictures in travel brochures—the Chappells say the story is an illustration of how husbands and wives can fall into the trap of unmet and even uncommunicated expectations in marriage.

“A photographer can capture a small snapshot that is wildly different from the full experience,” Chappell said. “And so it is in marriage. We see snapshots of marriage in other people’s lives, on social media and in culture. From these, we build our own expectations. But we soon discover that our mental images are vastly different from reality.

“Expectations and misunderstandings can set couples up for an ongoing stream of disappointment,” he continued. “In offering marriage counseling, Terrie and I almost always find that marital disappointment comes from unrealistic, and often unspoken, expectations spouses have of one another.”

As an example, Chappell pointed to the powerful biblical account in 2 Kings 5, where the Syrian captain, Naaman, went to the prophet Elisha to be healed of leprosy. Naaman arrived at Elisha’s doorstep with a large entourage, but Elisha simply sent his servant to the door with instructions for Naaman to dip seven times into the muddy Jordan River. Naaman was offended, and he left Elisha’s house “in a rage”—a classic indicator of unmet expectations.

“Naaman came to Elisha with a full set of unspoken expectations,” Chappell said. “He expected Elisha would come to him in person, perform an elaborate ceremony and bring on-the-spot healing. When this didn’t happen, Naaman’s disappointment turned into anger. It was only the persuasion of Naaman’s servants that brought Naaman around to the place where he was willing to let his expectations go and humbly do as the prophet had told him. And just to not leave you hanging, Naaman did then experience the miraculous healing of God.

“But think about Naaman’s initial response,” Chappell added. “‘Behold, I thought…’ When you hear yourself say, ‘But I just thought…’ that’s your clue that you’re dealing with unmet expectations. And when you feel the frustration and anger rising that is another indication that you are responding to unmet expectations. If you remain married for longer than five minutes, you will experience unmet expectations. It’s part of life, and it’s definitely part of marriage.”

Read the entire Christian Post commentary here.

Whether newlyweds or married for decades, husbands and wives will find truth in “Are We There Yet?” that will help them clarify their destination, communicate their needs, grow as a couple and even shed some baggage along the way. With chapter titles such as “Paying with Foreign Currency,” “Traveling Light,” “Roadblocks” and “Booking a Room,” “Are We There Yet?” explores topics from needs and forgiveness to conflict and intimacy.

Chappell has served as senior pastor of Lancaster Baptist Church for the past 31 years and is also the president of West Coast Baptist College.

Read more about Lancaster Baptist Church, West Coast Baptist College, “Are We There Yet?” and the Chappells here. For more information on Dr. Paul Chappell and Lancaster Baptist Church, visit or, or connect via social media on Facebook, Twitter or the church’s YouTube or Vimeo.