Trick Questions and Expectations in Marriage

Trick questions can be…well…tricky. For instance, how would you answer this question:

“Have you stopped beating your spouse?”

Answering this question is tricky, because if you agree, it sounds like you use to beat your spouse. If you disagree, it sounds like your still beating your spouse.

Watch out for the trick questions. 

When I do premarital counseling, I often ask a couple to complete an inventory where they respond to a variety of statements on a continuum between “strongly agree” and strongly disagree. Some of my favorite statements to which they must respond are statements like:

  • I have never regretted my relationship with my partner.
  • My partner gives me all the love and affection I need.
  • We completely understand each other.
  • My partner has all the qualities I’ve ever wanted in a mate.
  • We are as happy as a couple can be.

A couple preparing to get married will usually agree with these statements, but a couple that’s been married for a while will usually laugh at these statements. The difference is the couple preparing for marriage is in LOVE, where as the couple that’s been married for a while are in LIFE.

It’s all about your expectations. 

There’s always a difference between our expectations and our experience. When we’re preparing for marriage, we have all kinds of optimistic expectations about how marriage should be. Remember those? Sleeping in. Leisurely sharing a cup of coffee together before starting your day. Always having your spouse’s attention and affection. Sharing the same interest in sex. Always having control of the remote. Having the same goals and plans. Spending your spare time together. The list goes on and on.

But after you’ve been married a while, those expectations aren’t always met, and you begin to struggle. So you attempt to get your expectations met. You start off by trying to talk to your spouse and explain why you need them to meet your expectations. If repeated attempts to communicate don’t get you anywhere, then you’re generally left with three options…

  • Manipulate or make demands to get your spouse to meet your expectations. This increases frustration, raises defensiveness, and tends to make marriage worse.
  • Leave your spouse for someone else whom you think will meet those expectation. This will bring an end to what could be a perfectly good marriage…not to mention the fact that no one will ever meet all your expectations.
  • Adjust your expectations to something more realistic. This will help you both relax and have a marriage that will go the distance.

Adjust your expectations.

Adjusting your expectations in marriage will actually teach you some valuable lessons…

  • You don’t have to like everything about your spouse, or your relationship with them, to have a good relationship.
  • You won’t always get the love and affection you think you need, but that doesn’t mean you’re not loved.
  • You don’t have to completely understand one another to completely love and support one another.
  • Your spouse doesn’t have to have all the qualities you want in a mate. (That person doesn’t exist.) But they have enough of those qualities to make it work.
  • The two of you could always be happier, but that doesn’t mean your not happy.

These are critical lessons for a long and loving marriage, but you can only learn these lessons by adjusting your expectations.

Don’t fall for the trick questions in marriage. Marriage is not about the two of you getting every expectation met. It’s about figuring out which of your expectations are realistic and which are not. It’s also about the two of you meeting as many of each other’s expectations as you can, while leaving room for you to be yourselves.

What is one expectation you have for your spouse and your marriage that…if you were honest…is probably not realistic? Which of the five lessons do you most need to learn? What’s one thing you can do to let go of an expectation and be happier?

Copyright © 2018 Bret Legg

Have You Lost the Magic?

Couples come into my counseling office for many reasons. Some are having on-going conflicts they can’t resolve. Others are having trouble with their parents or in-laws. Some are struggling in their sexual relationship. Others are at odds over finances. And some just seem to have different ideas about what makes for a good marriage.

But there was one couple who came into my office who summed up marital issues in one simple sentence. “We have lost the magic.“

Ever feel like your marriage has lost the magic? If so, maybe it’s because: 

Read moreHave You Lost the Magic?

This is Not What I Expected

 

Expectations. We all have expectations before we get married. We have expectations about what marriage will be like. We have expectations about how our spouse will act. We have expectations that tend to become the standard by which we measure and evaluate the quality of our marriage. We expect things like…

Read moreThis is Not What I Expected

Expectations – What’s in the Box?

It all started when my wife went to the front door and came back with the latest delivery from FedEx. “What’s in the box?” I inquired. “I’m not sure,” she said with a hint of excitement in her voice. Since my wife doesn’t typically get excited about things, I began to get curious.

As she went to find something with which to open the box, I thought to my self, “Wouldn’t it be cool if she surprised me by ordered something from Victoria Secrets?” The voice in my head immediately said, “Yeah, right! Be reasonable!” My head knew it was improbable, but my heart was holding out for the long-shot.

Read moreExpectations – What’s in the Box?

Derailing Disappointment

If you’ve ever been disappointed, you know how easy it is for disappointment to derail you.

I see this with my grandchildren. They always have a list of things they want: “I want to go outside and play.” “I want to go out to eat pizza.” “I want to rent a movie.” “I want a snack.” “I want to spend the night.” If something gets in the way of what they want, it can throw them into a funk from which they have a hard time recovering.

But it’s not just children who struggle with disappointment.

Read moreDerailing Disappointment

How to Have the Perfect Marriage. Really!

I know they say there’s no such thing as a perfect marriage. But what if there is? What if it’s possible to have the perfect marriage?

Some people think that to have the perfect marriage you have to marry the right person. But I don’t think that works. No one’s perfect, and with all the people out there, the odds of finding the right person is pretty slim.

I think to have a perfect marriage you have to do something different. You have to…

Read moreHow to Have the Perfect Marriage. Really!

How to Find What You’re Looking For in Marriage: Lessons From Hunting Mushrooms

We decide to get married because we’re looking for something and we believe we’ve found it in our spouse. But a few years into the marriage, we’re still looking for something and we’re wondering why our spouse is withholding it. What happened?

There’s a general principle in life and marriage, and it’s this: we tend to find what we’re looking for. It was true when you were dating, and it’s still true now in your marriage. But what happens is we change what we’re looking for.

Read moreHow to Find What You’re Looking For in Marriage: Lessons From Hunting Mushrooms

Dissatisfaction in Marriage

DissatisfactionTo be married is to know dissatisfaction. That statement will probably get me in trouble, but it’s true. You can’t live with someone who is different than you and not experience some dissatisfaction. Your spouse won’t make the same decisions you would make. They will correct you at times. Their priorities will be different than yours. You won’t like all their habits and quirks. No matter how great your spouse might be, being married to them will bring a certain amount of dissatisfaction.

Read moreDissatisfaction in Marriage

How to Better Live with Your In-Laws – 5 Steps

Portrait Of Multi-Generation Chinese Family Walking In Park TogetherIn the last post, we talked about the tug-of-war that comes with learning to live with your in-laws. In this post, we’ll look at 5 steps to improve your relationship with your in-laws. You may be thinking, “It can’t be that easy!” Well, notice that I said 5 steps to improve the relationship, not 5 steps to make the relationship the way you want it to be. So, let’s look at the 5 steps.

Read moreHow to Better Live with Your In-Laws – 5 Steps

Difficult People – Engage Them Without Being Absorbed by Them.

Frustrated Casual young man closing his ears with his handsThere are people in this world who are just difficult people.  Maybe they…

  • Love to stir up gossip.
  • Get others to do their work.
  • Are argumentative or negative.
  • Repeat the same careless mistakes.
  • Make the same old excuses.
  • Demand their own way.

Whatever the reason, difficult people make life difficult.  So what can you do about them…without getting thrown in jail?

Read moreDifficult People – Engage Them Without Being Absorbed by Them.