Are Your Expectations About Marriage Unreasonable?

BY: - 4 Nov '10 | Relationships

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by Tara Pringle Jefferson

I just got finished reading Fighting For Your Marriage, a book that I think should be required  reading for EVERY couple – whether they are  about to walk down the aisle or if they’ve been married for 20 years. It’s just that good. After reading  it, I felt like my marriage was brand-new and I was ready to be the best wife I could possibly be.

One of my favorite chapters was the one about expectations and how whether we like it or not, the expectations we bring to the marriage can ultimately predict how happy we are. It makes sense if you think about it. If your expectations are never met (you always feel disappointed rather than satisfied) it is easy to see how you could quickly be headed for divorce court.

The authors give four guidelines for handling expectations:

  1. Be aware of what you expect
  2. Be reasonable in what you expect
  3. Be   clear about what we expect
  4. Be motivated to meet the other’s expectations

1. Be aware. You might think you know what your expectations are: You want a companion who is there for you, cares for you and rides through storms with you. But what does that actually mean? Do you want your husband to quit spending so much time with his friends because you think your  free time should be spent together as much as possible? Do you think your wife is disrespectful if she doesn’t check with you first before she commits to going on double date with another couple? Step one is to figure out what do you expect and how does your partner fulfill that expectation?

2. Be reasonable. Now this step takes a little maturity. Think deeply about the expectations you uncovered in Step one. Looking at it through your partner’s eyes, ask yourself: is it reasonable? Do you really expect your husband to never have a guys’ night out? Do you always have to solve your problems before you go to bed? Let go of unreasonable expectations for your sake and watch the relationship improve.

3. Be clear. Since you now know what your expectations are and you’ve ditched the unreasonable ones, it’s time to make your expectations clear. Start with something simple and use lots of “I” statements: “I really feel loved when you XYZ.” Or, “I love it when you ____. It makes me very happy.”

4. Be motivated.I think this might be the hardest hurdles  for couples. Once you’ve learned what your partner’s expectations are, you should be motivated to meet those expectations to the best of your ability. So often, if we don’t see eye-to-eye on expectations, or if we don’t receive love in the same way, it’s hard to truly understand why your spouse’s expectations exist. But by making the effort to fulfill their needs, you’re validating their expectations and desires. You’re letting them know you love them.

BMWK family, looking at this list, how did you do? Are your expectations reasonable?

Tara Pringle Jefferson is a freelance writer and blogger living in Ohio with her husband and two children. Visit her blog,, to read more of her observations about life, motherhood and love.


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  • Dianne M Daniels

    Love this – will send it to my married friends and to my married children to begin with…then after I’ve thoroughly read the book, I’m willing to write a review of it as well…

  • Diva2275

    I agree that so many of us go into marriage with certain expectations and are very dissapointed when our partners don’t meet those same expectations. this is the most challenging part of any relationship, accepting them as they are and accepting what they offer not always what we want….

  • reefinyateef

    #3 is so key. Its challenging because things way say are clear to us … We said it after all! It can be hard to out yourself in the other persons shoppes regarding something that you said.

  • M.Phenomenon

    #3 can be the most frustrating part for men. It seems with myself and some guys I know, women just communicate on such a different level, that the simplest things can remain so unclear. It is still something that I’m working on in my marriage, but it is not easy. You would think it would not be difficult to communicate the simplest things, but it’s probably one of the hardest one on the list.

  • Patricia Johnson

    Looking for suggestions on how to cope when you’ve done these steps multiple times and your reasonable expectation(s) remain unmet.

  • Pingback: Want a Happier Marriage? Research Says Do This, Not That. | Happy Wives Club()