Why We Need to Change Some Expectations with Marriage

Posted by on Mar 15, 2021 in Couples Counseling | Comments Off on Why We Need to Change Some Expectations with Marriage

Marriage involves a series of promises between partners. Some promises are explicit, like promising to honor one another through both sickness and health. But there is a lot more to it than that.  Many of the promises of marriage are implied or understood. Couples have usually talked a great deal about their hopes and dreams for the future and what they want it to look like. They know the other person and what to expect from them. We expect our partners to honor these explicit and implied promises. But when you think about it, a lot of these expectations don’t line up with reality. Why?

We are Constantly Changing

The reason why is because we are not stagnant beings. We are not going to stay the same person we were when we got married. As we move through life, our values and opinions can, and often do, change and evolve. Sometimes what changes is what we want from life, such as how many children to have or where we want to live. At other times, what we want or need from a partner is what changes. For instance, you may have valued stability and reliability when you first got married. Now you may yearn for adventure and spontaneity.

These inevitable changes mean that at least some of what we promised when we got married will no longer be possible. This can leave people feeling deceived or betrayed.

Changing Our Expectations for Marriage

So how can a marriage work under these circumstances? The solution involves shifting our expectations of marriage. It’s not fair to blame our partners, or ourselves, when we grow, evolve, and change. Although it can be disappointing and hurtful, it is not a betrayal when we or our partners are different now than we were then. We must accept that, despite our best intentions, some promises will likely be broken. Not maliciously but because we are constantly evolving and changing.

What People Can Keep in Mind to Sustain Their Marriage

Marriage is not an agreement between partners to keep being the exact same people forever. We can instead view marriage as a promise between partners to meet one another where they’re at as they change over time. it’s important for couples to regularly talk and communicate about what they want and need, even when it’s hard to do so. Partners should also give one another the chance and encouragement to become who they need to become, even if it’s different than what was wanted or expected.

It’s to be expected that your marriage will change and evolve over time. However, if you and your partner are struggling with those changes, or are discovering that your values have drifted apart, consider therapy. Contact me today to learn more about how couples therapy can help.

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