HOUSTON - If you’re like many, you got married expecting more than you sometimes receive in marriage. Growing up with fairy tales, reading magazines or romance novels, and seeing sweet social media posts, it’s easy to begin believing your marriage is more work than you expected it to be. Marriage experts agree that one of the major contributing factors to marital unhappiness is faulty expectations.
Let’s face it, people are annoying. It’s counterintuitive; you’d think the longer you share a life together, the easier it would be to live with them. You begin expecting more of them, not less. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, the more we love someone, the more we trust them with honoring their promises. But expecting them to be flawless, read your mind, make you happy, or bring you life satisfaction is unrealistic and leads to resentful.
Marriage is a lifestyle, and it works best when both partners are emotionally mature and want what’s best for the marriage. Understanding yourself helps you take responsibility for your words and actions without getting into the blame game. Below are common unrealistic expectations that cause major problems. Readjusting your expectations will help you love better as a married couple.
Unrealistic expectation: When I get married, I’ll never be lonely again.
Realistic expectation: Feeling lonely is a human condition. One person cannot satisfy all your needs for emotional connection. Make new friends, volunteer, and catch up with old friends. Your marriage should provide intimacy and companionship, but friends are still crucial.
Unrealistic expectation: When I get married, we’ll always make each other happy.
Realistic expectation: No matter how long you’ve known each other, you will have good and bad seasons through marriage. You’ll take on new roles in your life together, and one of you may go through illness, career changes, or painful life circumstances. Expecting your partner to always making you happy is unrealistic. You are responsible for your own happiness.
Unrealistic expectation: Marriage is 50/50 investment. My spouse will always meet me halfway.
Realistic expectation: Marriage is 100/100 investment. The more generous you are with your willingness to help and improve the marriage, the more successful your marriage will be. There will be times your spouse disappoints you and doesn’t meet you halfway. It’s crucial to step up during those times for the good of the marriage.
Unrealistic expectation: We’ll always talk it out and never fight.
Realistic expectation: Part of a healthy relationship is having arguments, and you WILL argue. As you go through life together, new sides and opinions of your partner will come out, especially when they take on different roles. When you argue, it should be to resolve conflict and leave you both feeling more understood. When you brainstorm solutions together, it should be a solution that benefits the marriage.
Unrealistic expectations: When I get married, I’ll always have someone do stuff with, so I won’t get bored.
Realistic expectations: It’s not your partner’s job to keep you entertained. Find something you’re interested in lest you become self-centered and boring. It’s healthy to pursue your own interests, adventures, and friends or you may become codependent on your partner.
Unrealistic expectations: My partner will change after we marry OR my partner will never change after we marry.
Realistic Expectations: Both of these are incorrect. Your partner will change as they go through life, but it might not be in the areas you were hoping. Hoping they will stop being so hot-headed when they have kids or clean up more when you share a house? Unlikely. Planning on your partner never changing their career or always loving the same hobbies? Also unlikely. Convincing yourself of either is a recipe for misery. Give your partner room to grow while accepting them where they are at this time.
Unrealistic expectations: My partner and I have a great sex life and always will.
Realistic expectations: You and your partner will have great sex sometimes, but there will be seasons where work, children, and other obligations must take priority. Sharing your needs will help you work through the situation.
Talking about your expectations with your partner from time to time helps you make readjustments with your expectations. Your marriage will feel lighter, and your partner will feel less burdened knowing they don’t have to meet an unrealistic standard in order to be loved by you.