The Problem With Expectations in Marriage

The Problem With Expectations in Marriage
One of the biggest mistakes that people make in marriage is to expect their spouse to complete them or make them happy.  True.  Your spouse may compliment you, but they will never be able to complete you or make you happy.  Furthermore, they are most likely to do in a marriage what they have done before the marriage.   So, one of the best things you can do for your marriage relationship and for yourself is to not expect your spouse to make you happy or give you something that they weren’t giving you before you were married.

Change

People do change, but it is very unlikely that your spouse will change because you want him or her to.  Your spouse may change certain things that he or she does because of the effect you have on them in the relationship.  For example, the husband may be an introvert, but may gradually change to being less of an introvert because of the influence his extrovert wife has on him over time.  However, he will not change at his core with regards to worldviews, mannerisms, etc.  A person’s heart will not change because of his or her spouse, or anyone else for that matter.

Expectations

A couple typically enters a marriage relationship with personal expectations.  The wife may expect her husband to provide all the emotional support that she craves, be a great father to the children that she badly wants to mother, be the home handyman, etc.  The husband may expect his wife to provide him with all the emotional support through sex that he desires, to be a partner to him, to keep a neat and clean house, cook, etc.  They soon realize that their spouse doesn’t seem to be meeting their expectations, which in turn may spawn seeds of resentment that eventually destroys the relationship.

Therefore, I believe it is so important to thoroughly observe and evaluate a person before you marry.  Sure, there will always be things about your spouse that you didn’t know.  However, you want to do all you can to be confident that your spouse is on the same page, so to speak, as you with regards to expectation.  Do you notice that your boyfriend/girlfriend is neat or sloppy?  Does he have a serious relationship with God through Jesus Christ?  Is he handy with tools or willing to learn new things?  Does she cook?  Why does he or she really want to get married?  How does he treat you in private and in public?  Know these things and more, not by just asking questions, but by observing and discerning their heart.

The Heart

Once you know a person’s heart, you know that person, and what they are really about.  Jesus said that out of the heart, the mouth speaks (Matthew 12:34) and that believing is with the heart (Mark 11:23).  Therefore, if your wife does not have it in her heart to be with you, then she will never be with you regardless of how much you make it known or how much you try to get her to be your partner.  In her mind, she got married so that she could have someone to take care of her or to provide a family for children, or whatever.  Her goal for marriage may not have been to be a partner with her husband.  Likewise, the husband may have desired marriage so that he could have safe sex, someone to cook and clean, or wash clothes.  It is very important to assess why your partner wants to get married, i.e., her expectations, and what is expected of you in marriage.

If your spouse works with you before you are married, then there is a good chance that she’ll do the same after you are married.  Her wanting to be your partner before you are married is an indication to you of where her heart is.  So, don’t expect your spouse to give you what he or she is not already giving you.  Don’t expect your spouse to be the person that you expect him or her to be if he/she isn’t already moving in that direction in the relationship.  Deal with what you have, ideally before the wedding day and make an honest decision as to whether you really want to spend the rest of your life with that person.

You Can Still Be Happy

Now, even if you have come to realize that your spouse doesn’t meet your expectations in critical areas, it is still possible to obtain the happy life and happy marriage that you desire.  Just stop expecting your spouse to fulfill you and appreciate what he or she is giving you because that most likely comes from the heart…from the core of their being.  Take responsibility to obtain your own happiness, which not only releases your spouse from that impossible responsibility, but it also provides you the opportunity to finally be happy.

If your husband is messy, then clean up. If your wife isn’t neat, then fix things yourself behind her.  She’ll clean up after you and you’ll clean up after her and together you will make it work.  This is also part of the resolution phase of marriage where you accept the person as they are.  I have had several couples, who were married for decades, highlight the importance of accepting their spouse as they were.

Conclusion

The main point of this article is that you should not expect your spouse to be someone he or she was not before the wedding.  Whatever your husband did before the wedding is the same thing that he will do after the wedding day. The same thing that your wife is about before the wedding is the same thing she’ll be about after the wedding.  So, don’t expect your spouse to blindly meet your expectations if they are not already moving in that direction before marriage.

Cherish what your spouse is doing and don’t focus on what he or she is not doing.  You may have to dump some of those expectations in order to build a strong relationship with your spouse.  IF there are critical differences, then simply communicate that and work it out together.  Marriage also involves compromise.  So expect your spouse to do the same thing he or she did before the wedding instead of expecting him or her to do what is in your head.

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