You can’t help having expectations about your relationship and your partner. Some (or maybe even many) of your relationship expectations will be realized over the life of your marriage/relationship and others won’t—that’s just how it is.
The question to think about is whether or not your relationship expectations are in line with the challenges and reality of making a long-term relationship work. Marriage/relationship problems can result when you and your partner rigidly hold expectations that place undue stress on each other and the relationship.
5 Unrealistic Relationship Expectations
1. If I’m with the “right” partner, the relationship will automatically work itself out.
I’ve said this before and it’s worth repeating: Most divorced couples thought they were with the right person at some point in time. While compatibility between partners is important, placing too much weight in finding or being with Mr./Ms. Right will blind you to the challenges that all marriages and relationships must overcome. This expectation leads to a level of passivity that can be damaging to your relationship.
Alternative expectation: Fulfilling relationships are created, not found—we have to work at building and maintaining a healthy marriage/relationship.
2. If I’m unhappy, my relationship must be broken.
The truth is, your happiness is a reflection of many things, including your relationship. If you are discontent and struggle with other areas of your life (work, parenting, friendships/family, creative pursuits, spirituality, mental and physical health, how you feel about your body), these issues can spill over and impact your marriage/relationship.
Alternative expectation: Many things can impact my happiness; I’ll need to assess how fulfilled I am in the different areas of my life, including my relationship.
3. My relationship needs will always be met.
In this age of immediate gratification and entitlement (“I deserve to get what I want”), the reality of committed, long-term relationships may seem like an outdated relic of low achievers (or masochists). But is there any area of one’s life where it is reasonable to demand that all your needs will be met? This expectation is a recipe for frustration and disillusionment (and a good tantrum).
Alternative expectation: I will get some of my needs met some of the time. While it’s important not to ignore my needs, I shouldn’t place all the responsibility on my partner.
4. I’ll always like my partner.
Here’s a paradox we’re all faced with: Loving our spouse/partner even during those moments we don’t particularly like him/her. There will be times when your partner behaves in ways that aren’t very likable (and of course, this holds true for you too). Couples take their frustrations out on each other, get into emotional funks, argue in ways they’re not proud of—in short, relationships can get messy and bring out the worst in us at times.
Alternative expectation: I can still love my spouse/partner even if there are moments I don’t like him/her.
5. The sex will always be great and often.
You’re in good company if, at some point in your relationship, you and your spouse/partner need to make a concerted effort to connect sexually. Sexual intimacy is often a casualty of relationship ruts, lack of planning, stress, illness, and competing priorities.
Alternative expectation: We must work to nurture and tend to this part of our relationship.
Understanding how your and your partner’s expectations (which may not be fully conscious) impact the marriage/relationship is an important part of relationship maintenance. Share this list with your partner to help elevate the collective consciousness of your relationship. Remember, knowledge is a powerful tool to help you and your partner strengthen your marriage/relationship.
Marriage/Relationship Help Resources
I’d like to share 2 resources with you today:
Forgiveness (the ability to forgive for things small and large) is essential to a healthy marriage/relationship. Find out what forgiveness can do for your relationship (click The Power of Forgiveness).
Wishing you and your relationship all the best!
Dr. Rich Nicastro