While fairytales end with a princess marrying the handsome prince and living happily ever after, if you’re married, you know that fairytales are not reality. While marriage can definitely be amazing and wonderful (it can even make you live longer), it can also take a lot of work. One area that we can all work on is managing our expectations.
Here are 7 areas the experts recommend we each evaluate in our own marriage to make sure our expectations are helping rather than hurting our marriages.
First of all, don’t get married because you think that it will make you happy. We can’t expect marriage to be perfect and wonderful every day. Life isn’t perfect and wonderful every day. We’re all human, after all, and life has its ups and downs. On the bright side, you can be happily married without being happy all of the time. If you’re unhappy a lot, possibly see a therapist because there could be a bigger issue, like depression.
When you get married, don’t have expectations that you’ll be able to change your spouse. He’ll probably still have the same friends years later. He’ll probably still have the same hobbies years later. He’ll probably still have the same annoying habits years later. Basically, he’ll be the same person. You wouldn’t want him to try to make you give up your friends, hobbies and habits for him, after all.
Men and women are hard-wired differently when it comes to memories. It’s easier for women to remember things that have emotional significance. If your spouse forgets your birthday or your anniversary that doesn’t mean that it was intentional or that he doesn’t care. Don’t stay silent if this bothers you. Possible solutions include marking the important dates on the calendar, sending your spouse reminder emails or texts about important events or whatever reminder method works best for both of you. Also, be sure to express why it’s important to you that he remember.
Men have a “fix it” attitude when it comes to conversations, so chances are that when you’re venting about work, he’ll be listening with the intention of telling you how to fix all of your problems instead of really just listening to you like a girl friend would. Schedule a girls night out or call up your bestie if you just need to vent.
Nowadays, we have this sense that a marriage should be equal, but a better word to use would be “fair.” There are a lot of tasks that need to get done to make a household run smoothly, so instead of trying to do every task equally, it’d be less stressful to split up the tasks fairly. One way to do this is to make a list of everything that needs to get done, open a bottle of wine and decide who will do what.
Whether you love, hate or tolerate your mother-in-law, you should definitely respect her. After all, without her, your spouse wouldn’t even exist. It’s a good thing if your spouse loves his mom. Try not to feel jealous. Talk to your spouse when his mom isn’t around if there’s an issue that really bothers you, but if it’s something small, like sitting shotgun while you take the back seat, try not to let it bother you. If you have a child who one day gets married, you might want to ride shotgun too.
Just because you’re interested in something doesn’t mean your spouse will be, and that’s okay. You don’t have to do everything together. While he’s playing video games, you can go to yoga class. It’s fine. As licensed family and marriage therapist Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., says, “Give him the chance to feel your absence from time to time.” He’ll end up appreciating when you’re around even more. It’s good for your marriage to spend time apart.