By Edward Lee
“Here’s to the happy couple.” That is how the toast began at a wedding I recently attended. At these words, all in the room raised their glass of sparkling cider or champagne, ready to clink glasses and stand in agreement with the proclamation being rendered for long lasting happiness to the bliss filled couple.
But…then the words to follow caused people to start looking at each other and even a few to lower their glass of bubbly.
The speaker continued on with these words, “I know these are both good people, and because they are good, they will never argue or have any tough times in their marriage.”
Initially the words of that toast made me laugh out loud. I found the promise of a marriage without clouds laughable. Once I got over laughing about the humor of the speaker’s either nervous slip of the tongue or just completely misguided advice, I began to think about my own wedding day expectations and how they line up with where we now are.
Here are some of the things I thought when I got married:
- All that was wrong would get right once we got married.
- We would always be happy.
- We would eat dinner together every night.
- We would continue to take exotic vacations every few months.
- Money would not be an issue.
- We would both go to and serve in the church together – with a big Sunday dinner included every week.
- We would remain social butterflies and the life of the party.
- Things that were good would only get better.
- That our “bedroom life” would always be the same.
- That our 2.5 kids would be the best of the best – in everything.
- That I would handle the finances alone.
- That I would always be able to golf 3 times a week.
- We would have the same friends forever.
- That we would agree on major decisions.
- Etc, etc, etc…
Some of these are pretty silly, now, but the point is that life changes and it is never as rigid as our expectations planned or hoped it to be. I never really listed out my expectations and thought about them in this manner until now. But I can see that some came to pass, some are still works in progress and most have given way to reality. It does not matter which ones fall into which category. Rather, what is important is how we come to manage those pre-marital expectations against the marriage we really have. There was just so much I could not see before we got married and I am sure that as life continues there will be more surprises – both pleasant and not so pleasant, but that is reality.
I share all of this, to provoke thought and questions about managing expectations, as I go through my own reflection and evaluation. How have your expectations been met, how have they fallen short? Probably even more important, where expectations are not being met how can you now open up to the reality of what you have?
How we answer those questions, along with whatever ones you generate for yourself, go along way to regaining or maintaining health and sanity in your marriage. As I said in a slightly different context in another recent BMWK post – remain flexible. Stay open to reality rather than closed off to what was expected. As I am growing to understand, before we married we expected Ken and Barbie but we now see we have either more or less than that. The ability to remain flexible to the reality of who and what we married is the strength and path to relationship longevity.
BMWK family, as I think on my recently married friends, with the great wedding toast, I ask you what I am asking myself, “What did you expect?” and “What do you now have?” How do you need to let go of some expectations to live and enjoy the reality?
Edward is an Ordained Minister, Bible College Professor, Pastoral Marriage Counselor, and Author of two first of their kind marriage books, Husbands, Wives, Gsod: Introducing the Marriages of the Bible to Your Marriage and coming February 1st, Husbands, Wives, God – Weekly Devotions: 52 Weeks of Enriching Devotions. To learn more about Edward and Husbands, Wives, God go to edwardclee.com or follow on Facebook at Husbands, Wives, God.