Expectations are an important part of daily life. We expect school to get out at the same time every day, we expect the grocery store to have bread and we expect to wake up in the morning. These are all reasonable expectations, but it is when the expectations become unreasonable that we start to create problems- specifically in our marriages.
These are 8 common expectations that have been singled out as marriage destroyers:
1. You expect your kids to not make a mess
We know that a freshly vacuumed carpet is not the ideal place to shove our face with crumbly crackers, but kids just don’t view it that way. They see a newly cleaned family room as the perfect place to lay out every single toy they own and leave it there for as long as mom will allow.
Kids will be kids and when we just expect them to be kids life goes much more smoothly. They will make messes and we will clean them. The house will never be perfect, but perfection is boring and time spent with our children is time well spent. So give up this expectation, enjoy your day, make messes with your children and be much happier when your husband comes home from work each night.
2. You expect your spouse to know what you went through that day
You don’t know what crazy things he did that day, nor does he have any clue what you’ve been through. Expecting your partner to predict your emotional and physical needs is a surefire way to start a fight. Be open about your day and really listen when he tells you about his. If you both take the time to listen, there will be no need for misunderstandings or a lack of fulfillment in the future.
3. You expect your spouse to do everything
This goes both ways. A marriage is a partnership, not a negotiation or an excuse to do nothing. You don’t take turns giving 100% in a marriage. In order for your marriage to survive, you both need to give 100% all of the time.
4. You expect him to always take your side
You guys are a partnership, yes, but that does not mean you always have to agree. It is OK and even good to have differing opinions; it is a necessity to talk about them. Open communication is essential to a successful marriage and when you expect him, or her, to always take your side and to never disagree with you, it shuts down communication.
5. You expect them to say sorry first
I don’t know why we all do this. We get in fights and then we sulk until the “wrong” party comes to apologize. You can see why this is a problem. When both sides think they are right no one ever apologizes and the disagreement never ends. Even if you are right, just say sorry. No fight is ever worth the cold silence that follows while you both wait for the other to say sorry.
6. You expect him to read your mind
This may sound redundant, but again, your spouse cannot read your mind. No matter how much you love each other and how open and communicative you are, they cannot know what you are thinking. It is sweet when they know what you want without you ever telling them, but that is the extremely rare exception, not the rule. One lucky guess does not mean he can always read your mind, so just tell him what you are thinking and why. Tell him what you want and he won’t ever have to guess wrong again.
7. You expect elaborate celebrations of your love and life
Some people are used to big birthday celebrations, expensive anniversaries and elaborate holiday celebrations- others are not. Chances are you and your spouse have different traditions, so talk about it and then make your own together.
Expensive expressions of love are not the only expressions of love. A hot drink on a cold day, help making dinner, a family outing with the kids and a simple “I love you” are all expressions of love. Take the time to notice those small kind gestures and you will find the big celebrations become inadequate to express the depth of your love.
8. You expect him to always be waiting
You may share your lives now, but that does not mean his life is your life and vice versa. You cannot live your life and expect him to always be there waiting in the background. Life is busy and crazy and hard, so make sure he knows how important he is to you.
These expectations manifest in our lives in many different ways, so take a moment to think about your own life. Think about all of the expectations and then think about their necessity and cut out the ones you don’t need. It is good to expect fidelity in a relationship, don’t cut that one out, and it is good to expect to feel loved and appreciated, but we have to be careful not to take these expectations to the extreme.
Try to expect less and you will receive way more love and joy than you ever thought possible in return.