What did you expect?

When we got married, I expected my husband had the same expectations I did.  I mean, duh.  Isn’t that why we are marrying each other? Don’t we both expect the same things out of this marriage?

Ah, no.

That is the lie many couples believe when they get married.

The Lie:

We believe that our spouse has the same expectations that we do.

In their book, Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts, Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott share this very popular marriage myth believed by newlyweds:  “We expect exactly the same things from marriage.”

Here’s the truth…”What we anticipate seldom occurs, what we least expect generally happens-especially in marriage.”

What we anticipate seldom occurs, what we least expect generally happens-especially in marriage.

-Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

That’s exactly how it was for us.  I came into our marriage with a highly romanticized view of marriage.  I also came in with the extreme expectation that we were going to be the BEST at being married…that we weren’t going to continue the cycle of broken marriages in both of our families.  The stakes were high for me, especially as an Achiever type.  I wanted to WIN at this marriage thing.

AND I wanted what I wanted.  I came into the marriage with selfish, unrealistic expectations that no human could fulfill.

I came into the marriage with selfish, unrealistic expectations that no human could fulfill.

-Lisa Goldberg, Side By Side Ministry

My husband came into the marriage expecting it to be peaceful and comfortable.  He also came into it expecting respect and LOTS OF SEX.

We all tend to live by a set of rules that aren’t necessarily spoken but are always known to us.

So, we enter marriage with our expectations and our unspoken rules and we ASSUME that our spouse has those same expectations and rules.

They don’t.

So, what do we do?

As I see it, there are two choices:

  1.  Continue on with your individual expectations and wait “patiently” until your spouse conforms to your desires or learns the magic of mind-reading.  Meanwhile, you are growing further and further apart because you are not operating from the same set of “rules” for your marriage.
  2. Openly discuss your differing expectations, set a new set of “rules” for your marriage that are spoken and agreed upon and know they will continue to change and evolve as you grow together as a married couple.  This creates a fertile soil for your unique marriage to grow, flourish and thrive.

We started our marriage with choice 1 and it nearly broke us.  We spent the first six years of our marriage in bondage to our selfish, unrealistic, unspoken expectations of each other.  It was painful and lonely.

When God miraculously breathed life back into our dying marriage, we began to humble ourselves (especially me!) to see our marriage as an opportunity to leave extreme expectations at the door and love unconditionally.

We also began to communicate those unspoken rules that we were holding over each other.  And we created our own set of marriage rules, so to speak, that were unique to us.

It’s not that we don’t have ANY expectations of each other.  We do!  We have REALISTIC, healthy expectations that are rooted in the expectations God has of each of us.  We now have a standard–set by Jesus–to live our life by.

When one of us veers off the course we have set for our marriage and our family, we do our best to gently restore the other.  And if new “rules” need to be set, we communicate that to each other. We don’t wait until the other “figures it out.” That would take us back to square one, right?

What are your unrealistic expectations?

What unspoken rules do you have?

How are your expectations working for or against your marriage?

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For the next several weeks, we are walking through the book, Save Your Marriage Before It Starts, by Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott.  We will be sharing our personal SYMBIS assessment of our own marriage as well as many tools for a healthy, thriving marriage.  We welcome you to follow along! Also, we are trained facilitators in the SYMBIS Assessment, so contact us if you’d like to take the assessment with your spouse!  It’s an eye-opening experience and great way to start or tune up your marriage.

www.sidebysideministry.org

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