Having realistic expectations for your marriage can keep you from living with constant disappointment, frustration, and anxiety.
This doesn’t mean you have to compromise (in a bad sense) and never experience happiness. And it doesn’t mean you are doomed to an unhappy marriage. Not by a longshot.
It simply means being realistic about human nature, your personal needs and desires, and being willing to ‘give and take’ in your relationship.
In this article, we discuss the difference in realistic and unrealistic expectations for marriage.
You stood staring into each other’s face on your Wedding Day. Tears filled your eyes, because of this beautiful person directly in front of you.
You thought, “He’s perfect.”
Everything I have ever wanted. He is my soulmate. He will complete me. The list of qualifications was long but you scratched them off one by one. This is how you knew He. Was. For. You.
So, maybe the bar was set high, you thought, but… I have high standards. I know in my heart he can meet them. In turn, He looks at you. In shock that He snagged you as a girlfriend, let alone now becoming His wife.
He feels out of your league but wants more than anything to be the man of your dreams. He is smitten with you as much as you are with him.
You are everything he has looked for. Always looking for ways to show respect and encourage him. You had all the things wanted in a wife.
Today all He feels is love and expects to live happily ever after.
Even though He feels a slight pressure to measure up, he is certain things will settle down in the area of expectations.
At times, He wonders if He can fully please you. He realizes you expect quite a bit, but it seems small when He considers the love you have for each other.
We all set our bar pretty high. I do too. AS we think about our future, we have high expectations. We want our dream to come true.
When we start out, we all have certain expectations we talk about but some, we just assume will be met even though they are unspoken.
It doesn’t take long after the honeymoon to be enlightened as our lives merge together. Wow, she thinks, He is messier than I remembered his apartment being.
Does he always drop his underwear next to the laundry basket instead of in the basket? Does He always chew that loudly?
Geez, he thinks. I thought sex was gonna be a lot more frequent than it actually has been in this first year of marriage.
Plus, I thought she would cook a little more than she does. We eat out a lot.
I also didn’t think she would put pressure on me to make her happy all the time. I want to, but I am one person and her needs can be overwhelming as I attempt to meet what she is needing.
Both of them start to feel disappointment settle in, within their first few years of marriage. What started out fun and full of hope now looks much different than what they expected.
Having expectations is normal. It’s the type of expectations we have that will point us in the right direction or leave us frustrated about them being unfulfilled.
Setting realistic expectations in your marriage will keep you from having unrealistic expectations.
Unrealistic expectations apply pressure and can cause you to start drifting from one another.
When these demands are placed on our partner and they go unfulfilled we can go from being disappointed to eventually resentful because they aren’t meeting our expectations.
Criticism shows up in place of catching up at the end of our day. Our dream of living happily ever after is now turning sour in our mouths as we are left with our needs feeling unmet.
But are the needs we are wanting our spouse to meet realistic? Are they irrational or rational?
Do you view marriage through rose-colored glasses and through a fairy tale lens? If so, the letdown is great, dashing the hope you had about what marriage would look like for your life.
Here are 6 Unrealistic Expectations In Relationships
Movies romanticize what it should look like, along with culture. Our dreams can feel like a hole is poked in them, leaking out the joy of what we thought marriage would be for us.
Discerning between what is realistic and what is unrealistic can help you live with clarity and free you from putting unnecessary pressure on your spouse.
1. My Spouse Should Complete Me
No person has that kind of power. Your spouse can compliment you. You can grow together as one but no one, not even your soulmate has the power to complete you.
That’s a deity, not your spouse. When our spouse feels the pressure to complete you it sets him up to be some sort of God to you which is unfair to you and to Him.
2. My Spouse Should Always Agree With Me
Letting go of the need to be right can help preserve the unity in your marriage.
Letting go of pride or ego that says, I know I am right, allows you to be open to the possibility that your spouse could be right.
If both of you always have the same opinion, someone isn’t thinking for themselves. This isn’t a right or wrong thing just seeing things differently.
There is often more than one right way to solve a problem.
You can peaceably agree to disagree without pressuring your spouse to “agree with you.” Different perspectives can be a positive thing as you learn to problem-solve together.
3. We Are Always Going To Have Great Sex
Spoiler alert: You’re not. You might want to, but you won’t.
Work demands interfere. Your schedules could vary depending on your shift. Hormones. Stress. It might even be just, plain nominal sex at times.
Who sets the bar? What about small children? That can quench a thriving sex life. Johnny knocking on the door for his third glass of water since he was put to bed changes the mood at times.
Children can throw a damper on your sex life because they often need something from one of you.
Striving to make your sex life fulfilling and exciting is a great goal for both of you, but you won’t always be having great sex or even as frequently as you desire. Find the balance.
4. My Spouse Should Be My Only Friend
This doesn’t mean they aren’t your best friend, but it does mean they aren’t your only friend.
Putting all your eggs into one basket will leave your husband emotionally exhausted and you end up frustrated.
You will not feel adequately satisfied with what he can give you on a friend level because He isn’t a girl.
We are wired as women to be relational. To get our words out. Some conversations are better with a girlfriend.
They can hold a mirror up to us so we can see ourselves more accurately. Men generally want to fix their wives, but your girlfriend will listen with empathy as you, “get it out.”
She doesn’t want to fix you but she empathetically can support you which is a need she can meet.
Meeting needs comes through various things: friends, exercise classes, bible study groups, pottery classes, lunches out with a group.
A bar no spouse is supposed to reach is the high expectation we have for our spouse.
These needs are met in a variety of ways and our hearts become full and satisfied when we get them filled.
5. You Can Change Your Spouse
Changing your spouse isn’t fair to them or you.
It’s tempting to try and turn your spouse into a project instead of freeing them to simply be the person you married. We all change, but no one likes to be pressured to change.
Loving your spouse where they are and not where you wish they were will help you be more realistic.
When we are disappointed, the desire to pressure our spouse to change kicks in.
The more dissatisfied we are, the more tempting it is to apply pressure or bring up the things that disappoint you.
You expected your spouse to pitch in more with chores even though it was unspoken.
You thought it would self-correct but it hasn’t. As time has gone on you are beginning to seeth and now it’s turned to criticism. You start feeling resentment creep in.
He’s not unwilling to help but your expectations were not talked about. You struggle because you feel it’s obvious what needs to be done at the house.
He nonchalantly carries on right past the grass that is so high it’s embarrassing. He thinks nothing of it, on the other hand you have a lot of thoughts about it. You wonder what the neighbors think about it.
If these expectations were discussed and brought to the table about what you both expected around chores you wouldn’t be frustrated.
Talking about who does which chore would help and having a plan would cut out a ton of disappointment in the future.
6. You Can Have All Their Free Time
Of course, you want to know that you’re the top priority of your spouse. It’s realistic to want to be considered by him or her first, and not last.
What happens if you start to expect all of their free time?
The subtle manipulation used over them for having a hobby or hanging with friends at times comes by applying pressure for them to be the need meeter in every area of your life.
This isn’t realistic or fair.
The expectation of them giving you their undivided attention for all of the hours they aren’t at work isn’t balanced.
It could feel suffocating. Your spouse needs to replenish his soul through different friends and hobbies. Maybe He loves fly fishing. It relaxes him to be alone on the lake.
This doesn’t mean you aren’t His top priority, it means He has other things that interest Him that also meet a need in His life. Realistic expectations for both of you keep your marriage balanced.
- My spouse should complete me.
- My spouse should always agree with me.
- My spouse should be my only friend
- We are always going to have great sex.
- You Can Change Your Spouse.
- You Can Have All Their Free Time.
Here Are 7 Realistic Expectations for Marriage
Are all expectations wrong? Of course not. Healthy expectations keep your marriage safe.
Here are seven basic expectations that every couple should acknowledge.
1. Expect To Grow Together As You Learn Each Other Better.
From the beginning of the marriage, you learn each other’s quirks and little annoying habits. Make a wide place of grace for them because we all have them.
Learn the family values both of your backgrounds have held dear and keep the ones that work, discarding what does not work for you as a couple. This will help you forge your own path and values.
You will grow together over time, bonding even more as more of you is revealed to your spouse.
2. Expect Respect.
Exchange respect through kindness and courtesy to your spouse. Show honor to one another. Practice demonstrating respect by treating your spouse the way you want to be treated.
3. Expect to Communicate Regularly.
Talk openly and vulnerably about your lives together. Talk about your values, money, sex, your kids and your friendships.
4. Expect to have Disagreements and Work Through Them.
Fights happen. It’s how you fight that matters and tells your spouse a lot about your character.
Involve a counselor if you find yourself at an impasse.
Working through disagreements takes humility. Don’t allow your ego to get in the way.
5. Expect Honesty and Fidelity.
Expect transparency in your relationship. Without trust, you have nothing in your relationship to build on. You should have the expectation that your spouse won’t cheat on you. You are confident because you can trust your spouse.
6. Expect To Have Tough Storms You Will Both Have To Navigate Through Together.
You will have to navigate through storms. Life happens. Sometimes bad things come our way. This doesn’t mean your marriage is in trouble. It just means you have to learn how to navigate problems together.
You might have a hard blow. Hopefully not, but somewhere in your timeline, something is gonna be hard.
Maybe devastating or a gut punch. Lean fully into your spouse’s heart during this time. Seek outside counsel and weather the storm and ride it out together until the waves settle down.
7. Expect To Be Loved Well As You Love Your Spouse Well
Find out your spouse’s love language. Gary Chapman wrote a book, The 5 love Languages. (Affiliate Link)I highly recommend it. Once you identify the way your spouse feels loved the most, show them. It’s not enough to give empty words of, I love you out of habit. Really show them out of sincerity. If you do, their heart will be filled and their love tank full.
Everyone shows love differently, but if you love your spouse well, the natural reciprocation of love finds its way back to you. The nature of love is to give to someone else.
Keeping realistic expectations of your marriage will keep you from living in disappointment in your marriage. Let’s recap the 5 unrealistic expectations and the 7 realistic expectations listed.
Let’s also recap the 7 Realistic Expectations:
- Expect to grow together as you learn each other better.
- Expect respect.
- Expect to communicate regularly.
- Expect to have disagreements and work through them.
- Expect honesty and fidelity.
- Expect to have tough storms you will both have to navigate through together.
- Expect to be loved well as you love your spouse well.
Consider discussing these with your spouse so you are prepared as you navigate the first few years of marriage together.
6 Steps To Create Realistic Expectations
Healthy expectations create a better perspective in your life, and they are likely to set you up for success.
Here are six practical steps to create realistic expectations in your relationship:
1. Accept your partners’ strengths and weaknesses.
Accepting your partners’ strengths and weaknesses is the first step in creating healthy expectations. You will find that most relationships have both strengths and weaknesses; it is up to you to focus on the things that matter most to you and ignore or circumvent the rest.
2. Define what matters to you most in a relationship.
Knowing what you value is essential in creating healthy boundaries and expectations. It is not enough to know what you don’t want, you need to know what you do want.
3. Write down those key things that matter the most.
Turning your desires into a list gives you and your spouse an opportunity to discuss those items. Open dialog helps us find out if our expectations are realistic or not. It helps us bring things into balance.
4. Commit yourself to serve your spouse.
Make a commitment to serve your spouse to the best of your ability. Serve your partner on those things that matter most, and then follow through even when those things get tough (like when you are tired, stressed out, or just not feeling it).
5. Honor your spouse.
Be equally committed to honoring your partner’s commitments in the way that they have committed themselves to honor yours
6. Forgive and let go.
Be willing to forgive and give your partner a second chance.
Final Thoughts on Realistic Expectations of Marriage
Relationships can be challenging. Especially when expectations are unfair and unrealistic. Having healthy and realistic expectations of marriage takes work – working together as a team to define good and bad expectations, and working together to uphold positive boundaries.
Here is what we covered in this article:
- Here are 6 Unrealistic Expectations In Relationships
- Here Are 7 Realistic Expectations for Marriage
- 1. Expect To Grow Together As You Learn Each Other Better.
- 2. Expect Respect.
- 3. Expect to Communicate Regularly.
- 4. Expect to have Disagreements and Work Through Them.
- 5. Expect Honesty and Fidelity.
- 6. Expect To Have Tough Storms You Will Both Have To Navigate Through Together.
- 7. Expect To Be Loved Well As You Love Your Spouse Well
- 6 Steps To Create Realistic Expectations
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