Life is full of expectations. Some are good. Some are bad. And sometimes we don’t even realize we have them. But one place that expectations can sneak up and bite us is in our marriages.
Be honest, before you got married, you had some expectations of what married life would be like. And chances are you didn’t lay out all those expectations ahead of time. (If you did, good work!) And so, no matter how long you’ve been married, you may still be dealing with those expectations, particularly the unspoken ones.
For example, let’s say your dad always changed the oil for the family cars. Now you’re married, and you tell your husband the oil needs to be changed. He calls a place and sets up the appointment. You’re upset because he should be doing it himself, not paying to have it done. But he’s never changed the oil in his life.
Or you grew up in a home where there was always a home-made meal on the table at the end of the day. But her mom didn’t teach her how to cook, and she survived college on box meals and eating out. So expecting her to have food on the table that’s homemade isn’t really fair either.
Those may be extreme examples, but the truth’s still there.
There’s nothing wrong with having an expectation as long as two things happen:
- You express that expectation.
- You don’t get angry if that expectation can’t or won’t be met.
Of course, we could just avoid expectations altogether. Instead of making expectations on our spouse, perhaps we should work hard to serve our spouse the best we can. If we’re too busy making their lives the best we can, the less time we’ll have to make expectations we’re constantly wishing were met.
And if you’ve never had a talk about expectations, sit down with your spouse this week. Share what you’ve been expecting, and find out what they’ve expected of you. You both may be able to pick up some of those things and do them. Or you may be able to be honest and say, “I’m sorry but I just can’t do that.” It might be disappointing initially, but it’ll save you both a lot of grief in the long run.