Marriage is More than Your Expectations
I'm in the phase of life where the majority of my friend-time is spent with other married couples. Don't get me wrong, plenty of my best friends are still single or unmarried, but something switches when you enter into this phase of life. Your life is no longer your own, and every decision you make is filtered through the lens of, "How will this effect my significant other?" You naturally gravitate towards other people who get it because they are living it, too.
Last weekend, I was on a ski trip with a few other couples, and we all began to discuss our biggest lessons in marriage thus far. Everyone in the conversation had been married anywhere from 1-5 years, so we had a range of experience in the room. However, the overarching answer to the question centered around one topic: expectations.
Marriage, more than any other relationship, forces you to level with your expectations about yourself, your spouse, and your definition of a happy life.
No matter how alike or different you and your spouse are, expectations will creep into your marriage from both sides. In fact, the majority of expectations that you brought into your marriage probably materialized long before you even met your spouse. You built your expectations off of your parents, your romantic aspirations, and your natural tendencies. The question is not whether or not you have expectations in marriage, it's how you are going to deal with them.
From personal experience, I know that the majority of my expectations are rooted in a single lie: my husband thinks like me, so he should act like me. If you've ever met my husband, you know that, without a doubt, we do not process things the same way. Confusing, right? After all, didn't we all get married because we can see ourselves working and growing with our significant other?
News flash: just because you and your spouse are chasing after the same destination, that does not mean you will agree on the path to take.
Expectations come into play when two people have individual views on how to live a shared life. And to be honest, I don't know if they ever fully go away. I think the biggest thing I am learning is that it's important to have a standard by which to measure your expectations.
For instance, if I expect Ross to get something done without communicating with him, that's unfair. He's not a mind-reader. Just because it's my top priority, it doesn't have to be his. Sometimes, I catch myself asking him to do something that I wouldn't do, which is also unfair. If I don't feel like doing chores after a long day of work, why do I think he needs to? More than anything, it's important to remember that, for every expectation you have, your spouse probably has one of their own that you aren't meeting.
Communication is the only way to keep expectations from creating a false sense of reality in your mind and putting a black cloud over your marriage where it doesn't belong. Some expectations are healthy and spur your relationship on to better things, but if you find yourself constantly nagging, complaining, or feeling unfulfilled, it's time for a conversation, not another excuse.
Take a look at your relationships and where you might be placing unreasonable expectations. Look for ways to challenge your spouse to live a better story instead of finding the ways they don't "measure up".