Recently I’ve seen a number of bloggers warning that expectations can be harmful to marriage. I both agree and disagree with this: it depends on the expectations.
Unrealistic expectations can certainly hurt a marriage. If we bring into marriage expectations from poor or bad examples from our childhood, we will have problem in marriage. If a woman bring in “fairy tale” expectations from movies or romance novels, her groom will seem a failure to her. If a man brings in sexual expectations from porn, his bride will seem a failure to him. If either expects marriage to make them suddenly happy, or to make some problem go away, disappointment is sure to occur.
On the other hand, I think it’s a good thing for a man or woman to enter marriage with the expectation that their spouse will be a decent person, will practice integrity, will honour privacy, and will sometimes sacrifice for them. A woman should expect that her groom will not abuse her, and a man should expect that his bride will be there for him sexually. These expectations form the boundaries for the marriage, the things that are and are not be acceptable. These expectations separate those things that we will learn to live with from those we expect our spouse to overcome.
If you came into marriage with expectations that have not been met, consider why they have not been met. If the expectations were unfair or unreasonable, you need to get rid of them. If they are things that are not very important to you, letting them go may be the best option. If the expectations are reasonable and important, ask yourself if you have been clear with your bride; does she really know what you expect, and does she know you think she had not met some of your expectations?
If you have been clear, and your expectations are reasonable and valid, how important are those things to you? Can you let them go? This is about you; be honest with yourself. Should you let them go? It would be wrong to let go of some expectations (such as not being abused, not being cheated on, having sex, caring for the children …).
If you cannot, or should not, let an expectation go, it is going to become a major issue in your marriage. It’s going to be a major issue whether you try to get your bride to deal with it or not. If you choose to “suffer in silence”, it will become like a cancer in your marriage, slowly and silently growing until the whole marriage is in danger of being destroyed. Pressing her to deal with the issue does not guarantee success, but ignoring it guarantee ongoing pain and the slow death of at least part of your relationship.