Fast forward to being married. You text your spouse about how long your day is and how you’ll be home late. They respond saying they actually got to go home early and can’t wait until you get home.
You think to yourself, “Ah, so glad they’re getting home early, now they can get started on dinner and some of the dishes that have piled up.”
You walk in the door and let out a big sigh with the clank of your keys on the key tray and just as you’re about to say “I love you. How was your day?” you see the dishes still in the sink and the second thing your spouse says after “Hey!” is “What’s for dinner?”
I imagine you’re frustrated at this point. Your day was long and coming home to more things to do and no time to relax was not how you pictured the night going. However, did your spouse know your expectation was for them to do those things? Normally you take care of the dishes and dinner!
No one can meet an expectation they don’t know is there.
Unrealistic expectations are also unspoken expectations. If you and your spouse hadn’t talked about what you expect each other to do when one spouse gets home late, then it’s unrealistic to believe they would know what you want.
When you have unspoken expectations or aren’t willing to meet halfway, there’s no chance for either you or your soon-to-be spouse to win. What seems to be a very realistic expectation to you is very unrealistic to them because there’s been a lack of communication. You run the risk of resentment and disappointment when you judge your spouse on expectations they can’t meet or didn’t know existed in the first place.
Common Unrealistic Expectations:
Your partner is responsible for your happiness.
Your husband/wife will definitely play a role in your happiness, but they can’t be the only source. Think about things that make you happy and things that make your spouse happy. Are they all the same? Probably not. They can be your everything without being everything for you. You, like them, are human. You’ll make mistakes, you’ll fall short, and ultimately, that’s okay if you handle it in a healthy way.
Your spouse will anticipate what you want and all of your needs since you’re married now.
As amazing as that would be, being married doesn’t make you or them a mind reader. Sorry if this is a bummer for you! I’m definitely guilty of this. I often think… “Well, since my husband knows me more intimately than anyone else and since we’ve been together so long, he’ll do things without me asking. He’s just that aware. That loving. That good.” As time and experts will tell, the only way my husband can truly know what I need is by me talking to him about it. It doesn’t make his actions any less genuine because he didn’t come to the conclusion on his own (another unrealistic expectation I held when we were dating). Instead it gives him the opportunity to love and care for me in the way I specifically want and need.
The way you approach an expectation is the only right way.
If we’re honest, being right feels good, and there’s a comfort in doing things your way instead of someone else’s. However, there’s a time to set aside the “right way” if it means you get to a resolution. Choose your battles. If you expect your spouse to do the dishes, then putting the bowls on the bottom rack instead of the top rack like you do needs to be okay. Is the job still getting done? In short, yes!
You will handle conflict the same way.
You two have to come to an agreement together on how you will handle/manage conflict. If one of you needs space and the other needs to talk it out immediately, find a compromise that benefits both of you, like a timeout, and choose a time to talk about it a little bit later. Or, if your spouse feels like something needs to be said in the moment, be willing to listen first and then take a timeout. It’s important to voice your expectations so the health of your marriage doesn’t suffer on the account of unspoken words!
A Few Realistic Expectations:
- Communicate well and often; talk about how you’re feeling on a regular basis.
- Speak to each other with kindness, no matter what.
- Show respect to each other in every situation.
- Pursue each other daily.
- Say “I love you” every chance you get.
- Give your best effort at all times, and know this looks different depending on the week!
On your wedding day, you’ll vow to go above and beyond for each other, love one another wholeheartedly (flaws and all), and support each during all of the “for better or for worse” times. Remember, you’re starting your marriage with vows to meet halfway and sacrifice your preferences. Don’t let unrealistic expectations keep your marriage from being the wonderful relationship it has the potential to be.
Here are some blogs I think you might find helpful as well:
- Conversations Every Engaged Couple Should Have Before They Say, “I Do”
- 8 Must-Have Conversations for Couples
- How to Prepare Yourself for Marriage
- How to Deal With Unspoken Expectations
- EXPECTATION FRUSTRATION PART 1: Unspoken Expectations
***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***