Everyone enters marriage expecting certain things. We expect faithfulness. We expect our families to support us. We would like to have certain things and live in a certain place. This is all based on our desires and what we feel we deserve out of life. Everyone comes from different backgrounds which influences the type of lifestyle we have come to expect even when the odds are against us. 60% of marriages fail, but when we see other marriages succeed we expect the same for ourselves. When two people have different expectations problems are inevitable.
Great Expectations #1: Let’s set a special day that we spend time with each other, just me and you. We will make time for one another by putting the kids to bed early, silencing the cell phones and letting the voicemail pick up our calls. We will not let anything interrupt this special appointed time for us.
- Reality Check: This is a great idea but the expectation is unrealistic. You should have a special time to communicate one-on-one with your spouse, spend intimate time together, and enjoy activities. That is a wonderful gift to give to a spouse. However, it is inevitable that from time-to-time interruptions will happen on your special days that can’t be rescheduled. This is where a new and unexpected problem to this wonderful solution to a problem comes in. Baby girl has an ear infection and won’t stop crying; big brother has final exams and needs to go to a quiet place to study; and the middle boy has chicken pox all on your special day! Extreme cases such as this are typically understandable, but what about those days when wifey has to work late and totally expects hubbie to understand that she is tired? In such cases, the thought really does count for something. A simple statement of acknowledgement can defuse a spark that could have otherwise become a flaming hot argument. A statement such as, “Honey, I know today is our special day we planned to spend with each other, but I need to relax and unwind from a very long work day. Let’s stay home and plan a make-up date.” You get the picture, communicating your way forward in this way shows you were listening, unselfish and sincerely care.
Great Expectations #2: I thought we would save more than we spend. I thought we would spend more than we saved! Why didn’t we talk about finances before we got married?
- Reality Check: The financial conversation How to construct great arguments is an ongoing discussion. You current financial situation will certainly change if for no other reason than inflation alone. Gas and food prices fluctuate, kids require more as they age, and it’s just not realistic that your current lifestyle will always stay the same. What we do in times of plenty, will determine how we live in times of famine. At minimum, construct a joint budget that includes discretionary spending and savings.