4 Ways to Deal with Expectations in Marriage (Fighting for Your Marriage chapter 14)

When you got married you were full of expectations. You were aware of some of these expectations. You might have even talked about them with your spouse. But then there were expectations you didn’t even know you had. And then there were the changing expectations. Some expectations ended up unfulfilled and you grew disappointed and frustrated. Other expectations you gave up on for the good of your marriage. And some were fulfilled and brought you joy.
Most marriages sit somewhere between expectation and reality.
Expectations are powerful and they shape marriages all the time. So how do we deal with them? In chapter 14 of Fighting for Your Marriage, The Denver Researchers give 4 ways.

1. Be aware of what you expect

Take a minute right now and ask yourself this simple question: What do you want from your spouse? You need to know what you desire. Make a list. Even if you don’t write it down, list your expectations. As you make a list, be specific. And don’t worry about how significant or insignificant the list might be.

2. Be reasonable in what you expect

Now, stop and ask yourself – how reasonable is my list? What do I need to let go of as an unreasonable expectation? Not all expectations are good expectations. For instance, is it reasonable to say: ‘We should always agree on everything’?
The answer is no, it is not reasonable. So, if you said yes you are in danger of placing unrealistic expectations on your marriage. Beware of doing this because it will lead to disappointment in your heart and to the destruction of your relationship.

3. Be clear about what you expect

You have a listed your expectations. You have eliminated the unrealistic and unreasonable expectations. Now, think about how to communicate those expectations. If you think your spouse will have the same expectations you have, you will be seriously mistaken. And your spouse is not a mind reader. You need to clearly (and lovingly – that is without whining or complaining) define what you would like in the different areas of your marriage.
Don’t unveil your list all at once. Open up a discussion in one area and make sure it is a discussion. This is not a time to complain.

4. Be motivated to meet your spouse’s expectations (even when they are different from your expectations)

The Researchers say, “Too many people quit paying close attention to what the other likes or expects.” It is easy to get so caught up in our own expectations that we fail to focus on meeting the needs and expectations of our spouses.
You need to make fulfilling your spouse’s expectations a priority. You need to take the time and energy to do what needs to be done, say what needs to be said, and invest in what needs investing in order to bring satisfaction to your spouse.
Proverbs 13:12 says, “Delayed hope makes the heart sick, but fulfilled desire is a tree of life.” You have a chance to fulfill the hopes, dreams, needs, and expectations of your spouse. And you have the chance to frustrate the hopes, dreams, needs, and expectations of your spouse. You have the chance to make your marriage sick. And you have the chance to make it come to life.
Ask yourself, ‘What does my spouse want, need, and expect?’ Think about the different areas of your marriage. Think about how you can help them by fulfilling their expectations.


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