10 Unrealistic Expectations that Can Destroy Marriages

10 Unrealistic Expectations that Can Destroy Marriages

This year will mark 30 years of marriage for my husband and I. Where does the time go? When we said our vows at the altar on that overcast morning all those years ago, we were young, happy and idealistic. We meant every word we said, but we had no clue how those words would play out over the years. We went through premarital counseling and had the necessary conversations. We even spoke to our pastors periodically for additional insight. As we continued to evolve yet stick to each other through thick and thin, it became apparent how the rose-colored glasses of unrealistic expressions could drain a marriage.

Having expectations is not bad, but choosing to make your expectations your reality without ever considering your reality becomes detrimental. In your mind, your expectations are valid, fair and even reasonable. But you neglect to consider that they don’t only involve you but others around you, in particular, your spouse. Unrealistic expectations won’t destroy your marriage unless you let them, but they can have a damaging impact on your marriage especially if you become a prisoner to your expectations. Through the freedom in Christ, give your expectations over to him and let God mold them, along with you, into what is realistic for your marriage. Our expectations are cares that we can willingly cast on Him (1 Peter 5:7). As you turn over your expectations to the one who’s always realistic in ways you can’t imagine, He’ll work on you and provide the clarity and wisdom for each expectation. Wisdom has taught me that the antidote for any unreasonable expectation is prayer, communication, and compromise. Here are 10 expectations that, if not checked, can frustrate your marriage. 

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  • 1. Your spouse is your everything

    1. Your spouse is your everything

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    We’ve heard this sentiment expressed as “my husband completes me,” or, "my wife completes me." By placing your spouse on this pedestal, you may have forgotten that they are a person just like you with their own needs, making it impossible for them to fulfill all of your needs. At some point, your spouse won’t be able to live up to all you’ve placed on them.

    Although you are married, no single person can be everything to another; we’re not wired this way. If you’re leaning on your spouse more heavily than you are on God, you are setting yourself up for a world of trouble. Change your focus – look up so that you can see what’s around you.

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  • 2. Your spouse will make you happy

    2. Your spouse will make you happy

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    Your spouse can make you happy and will at various points in time, but your long-term happiness is not found in your spouse. Because your spouse, like you, can have a bad day or say the wrong thing, there are moments you won’t be happy with your spouse. I love the way Ann Voskamp expresses this sentiment: “Pursuing an unchangeable state of happiness will lead you to a stagnant state of despair.” Instead, choose to grow in your relationship and know that the unhappy times are bumps in the road to your maturity and love.

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  • 3. Your spouse can read your mind

    3. Your spouse can read your mind

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    You went out and expected to have dinner prepared when you came home. But as you walk through the door, your stomach growling, there’s no hint of a cooked meal. Now you’re hungry and angry. It is cute when your spouse reads your mind, especially when it is something that’s agreeable to both of you, but in most cases, this becomes an issue because your spouse does not think like you. Assume the best in your spouse and communicate your expectations for a given situation. 

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  • 4. Your spouse will be the spiritual leader

    4. Your spouse will be the spiritual leader

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    Priscilla and Aquila were a couple who studied God’s word together while building the church at Corinth. In essence, they were co-leaders in their home. They were both so knowledgeable that they were able to teach Apollos, a man eloquent in the scriptures and in the way of the Lord (Acts 18:24-26). Know your spouse, know yourself and know God. Your knowledge does not take away from his covering over your marriage; God is the cover.

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  • 5. You will automatically, naturally pray together

    5. You will automatically, naturally pray together

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    If you’re both believers, you may expect that you will automatically always pray together. Though we are one flesh, each of us is individually responsible for our salvation. So we may grow at different paces, and may not always pray together, but it’s good that the desire is there. As your communication grows, this area can grow also. Praying together is a form of intimacy which may be more intimate than physically coming together. Allow this area to develop at its own pace, while making yourself vulnerable. Pray individually and pray for each other until you can pray together.

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  • 6. You will do everything together

    6. You will do everything together

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    I like drinking tea; my husband’s favorite hobby is soccer. These two activities never intersect. We’ve learned that when the other is doing something they enjoy it makes our marriage better. There’s opportunity to learn and grow. We never felt compelled to attend and participate in every activity together. Once we realized that pursuing our interests made us better together, we checked in with each other and enjoyed the things that made us happy.

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  • 7. You will fall into classic gender roles

    7. You will fall into classic gender roles

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    Cooking, cleaning and tending house never brought me joy, but they were necessary tasks, so that’s how I approached them. In my marriage, we may have fallen into typical gender roles, but it was never easy for me, and this has been an ongoing discussion throughout my marriage.

    Not all women know how to cook or clean. Not all men know how to change a flat tire, and some are horrible with money. Oppressive gender roles oppress both genders. Instead, work with each other’s strengths, as we did, instead of cultural norms so that your marriage is harmonious.

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  • 8. Your sex life will be off the charts

    8. Your sex life will be off the charts

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    For some misguided couples, marriage is a license to experience all sexual activity with intense frequency, never taking into consideration their partner’s desires and needs. But Christian couples understand that there is a mutuality in marriage – our bodies belong to each other (1 Corinthians 7:4).

    The overriding theme regarding marital sex in the Bible is love, not dominion. In this area, both husband and wife may need to relearn healthy expectations around sex so that their marriage can thrive. Take your spouse’s needs into consideration for a satisfying sex life.

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  • 9. Our children will be just like us

    9. Our children will be just like us

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    I married a smart man and I’m reasonably smart, so it stood to reason in my mind that any children we produced would be brilliant. Now, it’s not that my children aren’t smart, but because of this expectation I initially treated them as mini-me’s, which they were not. They were smart in their own ways, and we had to learn to adjust our expectations so that we saw them through the eyes of the Creator and not only our eyes. 

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  • 10. You will never change

    10. You will never change

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    “I need to know that you will always be the same old someone that I knew… I love you just the way you are!” It’s quite a lovely song, but it leaves us with no room for change, and that's not good.

    Believe it or not, we all change. Some of us get better over time like fine wine, and some of us ferment. But we’ve still got to live with each other. Besides personality changes, there are physical changes and general life changes. Hopefully, the essence of your spouse does not change, though it may show up differently. So hang on to the good through each change, discard the bad, and remember who you married.

    nylse-headshotNylse is a Christian wife and a mother of four who loves life and inspiring others. She likes to have fun but is very clear on who she is and Whose she is. A prolific thinker, she blogs to encourage others from a Christian perspective at www.lifenotesencouragement.com. She can be found online on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

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