Setting expectations for your marriage can be a balancing act. When your expectations are high, you’re more likely to rise to the challenge of creating a rewarding relationship. However, if your expectations are too lofty, you could set yourself up for disappointment and resentment.
There can also be a disconnect between what you expect from a relationship and what you’re willing to put in. A close and lasting bond requires regular nurturing.
To succeed as a couple, it’s important to be realistic and committed. Try these tips for developing reasonable expectations for your marriage.
Spending Time Together
The average couple spends about 2 hours a day together, and one third of that goes to watching TV, according to the Office of National Statistics. If you’re struggling to meet your expectations, you might want to increase the quality and quantity of your interactions.
Try these techniques:
- Plan date nights. Be intentional about your quality time. Take turns planning romantic and entertaining evenings away from home.
- Invite other couples. Make friends with couples whose relationships you admire. Socializing with other married adults can help you to learn new skills and possibly appreciate your own partner more.
- Seek balance. While it’s important to share time and meaningful activities with your partner, you also want to preserve your identity. Stay connected to your relatives and friends. Give yourself a chance to enjoy your own company.
Communication plays a major role in any relationship. You can strengthen your skills by practicing on your own or with your partner.
These strategies support effective communication:
- Listen closely. Pay attention to what your spouse has to say. Validate their feelings and experiences even if you happen to disagree. Resist the urge to interrupt. Create an environment where you both feel safe to speak freely.
- Resolve conflicts. Conflicts are natural in any close relationship. They can even draw you closer together if you deal with them promptly and respectfully. Learn to distinguish between the things you can change and the things you need to accept. Be willing to forgive and apologize when you’re wrong.
- Express gratitude. Let your partner know how much you appreciate them. Sprinkle small gestures of love and kindness into your daily life. Take out the garbage when it’s their turn. Put love notes in their suitcase when they travel for business.
- Share meaningful discussions. It’s easy to fall into a rut where your conversation is mostly about home repairs and orthodontist bills. Remember to connect on a deeper level. Talk about your shared goals. Let your partner know how they can help you when you’re going through a difficult time.
- Consider your purpose. Marriage was sometimes a necessity for previous generations concerned about financial security or raising children. Today, your expectations may have more to do with companionship or personal fulfillment.
- Take responsibility. Remember that you’re responsible for your happiness and choices in life. Your partner can be supportive, but it’s up to you to take charge of your own development.
- Work as a team. At the same time, it can be easier to reach your goals when you have someone on your side. Share household chores and take a unified approach to parenting.
- Set boundaries. Healthy couples build and preserve reasonable limits. You have the right to decide how you wish to be treated and what the consequences will be if someone fails to respect your guidelines.
- Embrace change. Your marriage keeps evolving. You may feel disappointed that the honeymoon is over or you may be glad to discover a more stable and mature sense of intimacy. Update your expectations as needed.
Adjusting your beliefs could enhance your married life. Use your expectations to make your relationship more joyful and satisfying.