Personal Expectations
Thinking our views are right or presuming negative intention from our spouse are both deal breakers for contented marriage. The argument of “right or wrong” causes trouble in our marriages as we take issues not related to morality and dig in our heels to show our spouse that we are right. It is quite arrogant of us, actually, to think that our views and perspectives on life are right, which, by the way, would automatically make their views wrong!

I like the saying “You can either be right or you can be married!” Terry Real identifies this as a “perception battle,” or a contest about meaning. He says it occurs all the time in relationships, is a huge waste of time, and is irresolvable. He says it begs the unanswerable question “Whose reality is most legitimate?”

Obviously, both individuals in a marriage can’t be right, but actually, we can both be right if we accept that there is no right or wrong, just different. That is, unless we are discussing a moral right or wrong. We take it a step further when we see ourselves as right, then presume a negative intention regarding our spouse. This really escalates defensiveness and conflict, making a compromise much less probable. To reduce relational damage we need to ask for clarification of intent if we suspect a negative motive from our partner. In the case where one of us senses we are being negatively judged, we need to respond with an assertive versus an aggressive response.

Women adopt many early marriage expectations from family, society, culture, movies, books, and friends. Our expectations are often not talked about or challenged for truthfulness. They include such ideals as:

“He will meet my needs and make me happy.”
“I will not be hurt by my spouse because we love each other.”
“He will change after we get married.”
“My love for him will always stay the same.”
“We will never be torn apart by problems.”

These early and unrealistic expectations often get turned into negative attitudes, such as:

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“I will never be happy with this spouse.”
“Our fighting shows that we are just not right for each other.”
“He is not changing, so I must have made the wrong choice in a spouse.”
“We have just fallen out of love and it can’t be rekindled.”
“We can never overcome this problem.”

Whether we believe the first or second set of statements regarding our marriage, they are both subjective. These self-generated beliefs often lead us to blame our spouse for the outcomes. Blaming them locks us out of a solution and disables our ability to discern the real truth.

I implore you to take the time to examine expectations about your husband, marriage, and love. Only then can you make intelligent and informed decisions based on truth, not the often-skewed perceptions of a hurting person! Remember, there is another person on the other side of the wedding rings who has expectations of his own. Ladies, we owe it to ourselves, our spouses, and our children to stop and examine these highly lethal “setups” to marital disaster.

Get Kathy Schoenborn’s book, I Want to Stay Married, But How?: Empowering Christian Women in Marriage

Copyright © 2012 by Kathy Schoenborn. Used with permission.

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