8 Unrealistic Expectations That Can Destroy a Marriage

When you and your spouse first recited your vows, you were happy, young, and idealistic. You meant everything you said but were unaware of how your vows would play out over the years. You went through premarital counseling and had the necessary discussions. You even spoke periodically to your pastors for additional insight. As you continued to evolve but stick to each other through thick and thin, it became evident how the rose-colored glasses of unrealistic expressions could ruin a marriage.

Having expectations isn’t bad, but choosing to make your expectations your reality without considering your reality becomes damaging. In your mind, your expectations are reasonable, valid and fair. Still, you neglect to consider how they don’t only involve you but those around you, particularly your spouse. Unrealistic expectations won’t ruin your marriage unless you let them, but they can harm your marriage, especially if you become a prisoner of your expectations. Through freedom in Christ, give your expectations to Him and let God mold them with you into what’s realistic for your marriage.

Our expectations are cares that we willingly cast on Him, as detailed in 1 Peter 5:7. As you give your expectations to the One who’s always sensible in ways you can’t imagine, God will work on you and give the wisdom and clarity for each expectation. Wisdom teaches us that communication, prayer, and compromise are the antidote to unreasonable expectations. Here are some unrealistic expectations that can ruin your marriage.

“Your spouse is your everything.”

We’ve heard the idea expressed as “my husband or wife completes me.” By putting your spouse on a pedestal, you might forget that they’re a person like you with their needs, making it hard for them to fulfill your needs. Eventually, your spouse won’t be able to live up to what you’ve placed on them. Although you’re married, no one person can be everything to another because we’re not wired this way. If you depend on your spouse more heavily than God, you’re setting yourself up for trouble. Change your focus and look up to see what’s around you.

“It’s your spouse’s job to make you happy.”

Your spouse can and will make you happy sometimes, but your long-term happiness isn’t in your spouse. Like you, your spouse can have a bad day or say the wrong thing, but sometimes you won’t be happy with your spouse. Pursuing a constant state of happiness will lead you to a stagnant state of misery. Instead, choose to grow in your relationship and know that the miserable times are bumps along the road to your love and maturity.

“Your spouse can read your mind.”

You left the house and expected to have dinner ready when you came home. However, when you walk through the door with your stomach growling, there’s no sign of a cooked meal. Now you’re angry and hungry. It’s cute when your spouse reads your mind, especially when it’s agreeable to both parties, but in most cases, this becomes a problem because your spouse doesn’t think like you. Assume the best in your spouse and discuss your expectations for a given situation.

“Your spouse has to serve as your spiritual leader.”

Aquila and Priscilla were a couple who studied the Bible together while building the church at Corinth. Essentially, they were co-leaders in their home. They were both so informed that they could teach Apollos, a man knowledgeable of the Bible and the ways of the Lord, as detailed in Acts 18:24-26. Know yourself, your spouse, and God. Your knowledge doesn’t detract from His covering over your marriage. God is the cover.

“You’ll naturally pray together.”

If you and your spouse are believers, you might expect that you’ll automatically always pray together. You may be one flesh, but we are individually responsible for our salvation. You may grow at different paces and not always pray together, but having that desire is good. As your communication grows, this area can also grow. Praying together is a form of intimacy that may be more intimate than physically coming together. Let this area develop at its own pace while making yourself vulnerable. Pray individually and for each other until you can pray together.

“You’ll do everything together.”

Your spouse’s favorite hobby is soccer, while you might enjoy drinking tea. These activities never intersect. However, you’ll learn that when the other is doing something that makes them happy, it improves your marriage. There’s an opportunity to grow and learn. You may never feel compelled to participate and attend every activity together, but once you realize that pursuing your interests makes you better together, you check in with each other and enjoy the things that make you happy.

“You’ll fall into gender roles.”

Cleaning, cooking, and tending to the house may not make you happy, but they’re necessary, so that’s how most people approach them. In your marriage, you may have fallen into classic typical gender roles, which may not be easy for you and become an ongoing discussion during your marriage. Not all women know how to clean or cook, not all men know how to change a flat tire, and some are terrible with money. Oppressive gender roles oppress both genders. Instead, you can work together with each other’s strengths instead of cultural norms so your marriage is harmonious.

“Your intimacy will be incredible.”

For some confused couples, marriage permits them to encounter all sexual activity with intense frequency, never considering their partner’s needs or desires. Still, Christian couples recognize that marriage has a mutuality. As detailed in 1 Corinthians 7:4, your bodies belong to each other. The overriding theme about marital sex in the Bible is love, not dominion. In this area, both spouses might need to relearn healthy expectations regarding sex so that the marriage can flourish. Take your spouse’s needs into regard for a satisfying sex life.

There’s nothing wrong with having expectations from your marriage. However, putting unrealistic expectations on your marriage will undoubtedly strain things and could ultimately lead to your marriage’s demise. Instead, discuss expectations with your spouse before walking down the aisle so you’ll be on the same page.

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