Before we got married, Mark and I went to premarital counseling. At the first appointment the counselor gave us a test. At the second appointment we reviewed our results. Before he started the review the counselor asked us, “So, do you two have a date?” We answered, “Yes, on March 4th.” We were 6 months away. He then said something that should have alarmed me more than it did. He said, “Would you consider changing it?”
The counselor then explained that Mark and I were very different in our personalities and in our expectations for our relationship. Unfair expectations in marriage are not uncommon, which was a relief to me at the time. But we must take the warning seriously. If you have unfair expectations, they can lead to discontent.
I still have to fight unfair expectations about Mark and marriage. Here are 5 that are at the top of my list.
I expect that he should get me.
My friends got me, so Mark should too, right? Mark really didn’t get me. He is still not my go-to when I need someone to get me. He is a concrete, factual processor. I am intuitive and broad and so our brains operate in different spheres. It’s okay if your husband doesn’t get you. Nowhere does it say that love hinges on someone “getting” you.
If you’re feeling like you’re unfulfilled because your husband doesn’t understand you, have a plan B. I have a sister and friends who get me, who I can turn to. I have accepted that if I need quick empathy, it will take Mark a bit longer to understand where I’m coming from and so I need to adjust my expectations. He loves me, but he doesn’t always get me, and that’s okay.
(How different are Mark and me? Take a look!)
I expect that he will never be tempted by other women.
You must expect that he will be tempted. That sounds unromantic, but men are wired visually. All men are tempted. On the other hand, it is fair for you to expect that he will resist that temptation. It’s important for a wife to understand this reality and for her to support her husband in the fight against temptation. If you feel like he’s disengaging from you, talk about it with him sooner rather than later so that you can get on the same path. Encourage him instead of taking it so personally that you get emotional and attack him.
I expect that he will always make me happy.
This expectation often starts in the early years of marriage, when you think you and your handsome prince will live happily ever after because he will always make you happy. But then, the passage of time reveals the gritty truth that a husband will disappoint his wife at some point. So if you rely completely on your husband to bring you ultimate happiness, marriage problems are bound to occur.
I expect that he can read my mind.
You may think your husband should know you well enough to predict what you’ll like or not like, or what you want him to do or say. Hints and subtle comments do not help your husband as much as a straightforward explanation. The more you are willing to share what you’re really thinking, the more he will be able to hear you and anticipate and understand what you’re thinking down the road. But he’ll never be able to get it right every time.
I expect him to have the same daily priorities as I do.
Many Saturday mornings I’ve started the day thinking that Mark and I were on the same page, only to discover that the plans we had were different. The key to avoiding my mistake is to talk about your expectations ahead of time. Don’t just assume that he will be available or open to your needs and your family’s needs — ask him about it first.
Expectations must be managed. I say that knowing that I have a lot of work to do in this area! Once we get away from letting our expectations rule us, our marriages will be a lot happier.
Much of this post was taken from the books Lists to Love by for Busy Wives and Lists to Love by for Busy Husbands.
Mark and I discuss more on this topic in the podcast below: