The Number One Relationship Killer Is… Unmet Expectations
According to many relationship experts and marriage counselors, the number one relationship killer last year was unmet expectations. Not poor communication. Not financial stress. Not even infidelity. You mean marriages can survive a cheating spouse, money problems, or communication glitches, but marriages are being destroyed by expectations? Absolutely.
Expectations Are Everything.
The difference between your expectations and reality usually dictates your level of satisfaction in your relationship. I expected marriage to be more fun, like when we dated. I expected my spouse to be more romantic. I expected our relationship to be less work.
The bigger the gap between what you expected to happen and what’s really happening in your marriage, the greater your frustration, dissatisfaction, and maybe even your desire to start over with someone else.
Ironically, two people can be in the exact same marriage yet one person thinks the relationship is healthy while their spouse is getting ready to call it quits. One spouse expected marriage to be hard work and a bumpy ride; the other spouse expected a fairytale.
Sadly, people are giving up on perfectly good spouses and completely normal marriages just because they expected it to be different, better, more fun, or less work.
Everyone Is Smiling On Social Media
Many factors shape our expectations in marriage- what our parents modeled for us, what we observe in the marriages around us, and even what we see in pop culture often create our marital expectations. In this Digital Age, our expectations for our lives, marriages, and families are also shaped by what we see on display on social media.
Look at their house! Look at their kids! Look at that trip they’re on! And our satisfaction with our life begins to dwindle. Look at how beautiful she is! Look at how she dresses! Look at her husband! And our satisfaction with our own life is... gone.
Here’s a tip: Try your best not to let social media influence your expectations. It’s like comparing someone’s highlight reel to your behind-the-scenes footage. It’s not fair. You, your spouse, and your marriage will always suffer in comparison to the well-crafted, well-curated, filtered and photoshopped non-reality of most social media accounts.
Well, What Did You (OR DO YOU) Expect?
Think through your expectations. Don’t ask yourself if they are too high or too low; ask yourself if they are realistic or unrealistic. Have you been playing the Comparison Game on social media? Be honest.
Take a look at expectations that they are meeting. It’s so easy to focus on what they’re not doing and forget about all that they are doing. Find time to thank them for that.
Talk through your expectations with your spouse and be willing to hear theirs. Often, our spouse doesn’t even realize that we had certain expectations because we never communicated them.
Run your expectations by a couple who have been married for 10 years or longer. (The longer the better.) That older couple that you know that seem so happy and in love? Grab some coffee with them and listen closely as they unpack the realities of married life, redefine words like “love,” and put your expectations in perspective.
You can try to twist your spouse or bend your marriage into the shape of your expectations, or you can do a lot less damage by examining your expectations and making sure that they are realistic and reasonable in the first place. Are your expectations unmet because they are unreal?