When married life doesn’t live up to one’s expectations, dissatisfaction can set in. Often this can lead to a person blaming their spouse for not making marriage everything they hoped it would be. It is often these feelings of disappointment that cause people to feel let down by the reality of marriage.
Movies, books, and television often portray stories of romance and love that reality just can’t live up to. Based on these sorts of images, people often develop dreams and expectations about marriage. Many people hope that marriage will cure their sadness, resolve their problems, and lead to eternal happiness. However, this just isn’t reality.
There are some realistic expectations that you should develop about marriage. If you held out higher hopes, it can helpful to come to a place where you can accept the realities about what marriage really has to offer. Although there are many wonderful aspects of marriage, it doesn’t solve all of life’s problems.
1. Your Spouse Won’t Meet All Your Needs all the Time
Some people equate being in love and having a partner with having their needs met all their time. Your spouse can’t fix your loneliness, your sadness, and all of your life’s problems. Another human being isn’t meant to meet all of your needs.
It’s important that you still have a full rich and fulfilling life outside of your spouse. Then other people and other activities may be able to help fill the gap and meet some of those needs.
2. Marriage Requires Effort to Grow Together
Couples don’t just magically grow together over time. It takes effort. If you don’t devote enough time and energy to your relationship, your marriage will suffer.
A healthy relationship requires you to spend quality time together. This can be difficult when other responsibilities in life get in the way. Raising kids, developing your career, and caring for a home take a lot of time. If you don’t make time for each other, your romance can dwindle.
3. Love Isn’t Enough to Make the Marriage Work
Sometimes couples base their marital happiness on their feelings of love. If your marriage depends solely on how you feel about one another, it won’t survive. There will be times that you don’t feel like being nice, generous, and loving toward your spouse. A healthy marriage requires you to behave lovingly even when you don’t necessarily feel like doing so.
A marriage also requires a certain level of compatibility that you hopefully resolved before you tied the knot. For example, if your spiritual beliefs are the most important aspect of your life and your partner has a completely different view, all the love in the world may not be able to overcome that obstacle. Having similar values is important, in addition to love.
4. Not Everything Will Be Fair
A lot of couples argue about things that just “aren’t fair.” For example, a wife may argue that her husband doesn’t do his share of the housework. Or a husband may complain that his wife doesn’t bring in her share of the family’s income. When these sorts of conversations come up the marriage becomes more like a competition rather than a partnership.
At the office you may want everyone to do their fair share. But in a family, this isn’t the case and a willingness to joyfully pick up the slack is what separates family from other relationships. It may be that your husband doesn’t do very many chores or that your wife doesn’t earn much money, but that’s okay. You entered in the marriage agreeing to help one another, not complain that you aren’t getting a fair deal.
Marriage isn’t about dividing things up 50/50 anymore. That’s what roommates do when they share the rent. Marriage should be about supporting and helping one another, despite “fairness.”
5. You Can’t Force Your Spouse to Change
Despite your best efforts, you can’t make your spouse change. You can certainly change your own behaviors, which may influence your spouse’s decision to change, but you can’t force your spouse to make any changes.
Whether your spouse has a serious addiction or just an annoying habit, accept that you can’t make your spouse do anything differently. All the nagging, crying, and threatening may just may the marriage worse if you try to insist on change. Instead, you may be better of accepting that for now, this is where your spouse is at with this issue. That doesn’t mean you can hold out hope that it won’t ever be different in the future.
Your energy may be better spent focusing on other things. Get involved in other activities or hobbies. Focus on yourself and steps you can take to grow as a person and accept that you can’t force your spouse to change.