Making Marriage Work is a series (challenge) to give you motivation, encouragement, and actionable steps for maintaining a relationship that works! Below is Part Three to the series.
If you didn’t catch the first two parts, go read them NOW!
When you and your spouse are connected and working together, marriage is a WONDERFUL blessing. Don’t be disillusioned, marriage will NEVER be perfect, and there will always be room for improvement and hard times to face. I’ve realized through the years my husband and I have been together, that a HUGE contributor to disagreements between us are things we each believe the other should be living up to a.k.a. expectations.
Some expectations are not healthy and are developed over time from many factors (childhood, church, readings, TV shows, school, etc.). We all entered marriage with preconceived ideas of what marriage should look like, what our individual roles must be, and an overall perception of how it should make us feel. No one came from a background devoid of having an idea of what marriage is, whether it was by example of our own parents, what we saw on TV, our own imagery from what we read, or how people talked about marriage. IT ALL SHAPED OUR EXPECTATION.
Too bad expectations for the most part, don’t live up to reality!
I’ve talked about it before, but one of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard since being married is to truly REFLECT before reacting to a disappointment (this is not always easy in the heat of the moment), BUT if you can master that skill before spouting off at the mouth with the first gut reaction you have, you can truly take a minute to be a better spouse! And the way you can do that is by asking one simple question:
“Did my spouse make an offense against me or God?”
You may be rolling your eyes, but let me explain….
Remember those expectations I talked about in the beginning? Most of them that cause strife are not fostered out of a moral code (adultery, abuse, etc) because by and large many are trivial matters…like who should take out the trash, who is responsible for the yard, who is staying home with the kids, who does the cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, who pays the bills, how do you handle finances, etc…..these are not really critical matters, but they are the ones the cause the most friction because they affect us each and everyday and how we make life work as a unit. SO, naturally they are the root of MOST ARGUMENTS.
If we can pause and think…..does this matter in the grand scheme….did my husband hurt our family’s foundation OR did he simply piss me off because he ignored me when I asked him to move the clothes from the washer to the dryer…..see the difference?
I’m not saying to stuff everything inside unless it’s major. BUT if you can pause for a moment, ask this ONE QUESTION….you can respond in a CONSTRUCTIVE manner instead of completely losing yourself and screaming about the damn laundry for the 100th time.
How to Manage Expectations in Marriage
For the “bigger items” and the more trivial ones, the KEY TO MANAGING EXPECTATIONS is to practice COMMUNICATION (like mentioned in Part One). We can’t have a healthy relationship if we can’t discuss the “things that matter”, and to each of us…those things are different. Learning how your spouse receives love, feels connected, and perceives what a healthy marriage means is what is unearthed when you spend time communicating and connecting. I think for all the things that matter most to us, we can’t help but share those when we feel supported and heard. Plus, the smaller ones that aggravate us to no end are important to mention.
Now, I’m warning you that the items I keep referring to as “trivial” will not be conquered from conversation. And, as I mentioned above, these tend to cause some pretty brutal fights. AND, here is the bad part…these are typically things that take a while to alter because leaving shoes in front of a doorway, or not worrying about the yard work, or not caring to fold the clean laundry are habits. Habits usually take about three months to change, so I say that to remind you to have grace. Don’t expect from one conversation that your spouse is going to meet the expectation you have of them because it isn’t natural to them, therefore, it’s going to take work.
I HAVE GOOD NEWS THOUGH! The manner in which you run the household CAN CHANGE EASILY. Some expectations alter the way we work together, and those are the ones that can have a plan of action that can be executed as long as both people are on board. Talk together about who should handle (for the most part) certain aspects.
For example: Typically, one person is better with finances. Keeping the budget, managing the bills, and so forth. Figure out who that is and charge that person that they are the leader in that area.
Go through and determine what areas (i.e. laundry, cooking, bible study, child rearing, etc.) are important to the both of you that could use some organization. I promise, it will be so worth it. I’m definitely preaching to the choir on this. If both of you can come to an “agreement” of the basic desires have of how these should be handled, a lot of the floating expectations can become reality.
In a nutshell, be open, be realistic, be gracious, and be flexible!
When those triggers go off, PAUSE! Take time to reflect on why you’re upset, disappointed, or aggravated. The old saying that you can’t change people, only yourself is true. Did they offend you or God? Was it foundational or trivial? Did it break a hard boundary (i.e. adultery, abuse) or just piss you off? Once you can get these answered, you can constructively talk to your spouse.
This will lessen overall frustrations, resentments, and defensiveness.
Give this simple, but MAJORLY valuable step a whirl! I believe it will really give you new perspective and help lessen the blow when your spouse is not meeting up to your ideal partner.
LET’S MAKE MARRIAGE WORK!
What has helped you cope with disappointment in your relationships? Share below your words of wisdom!
Here is a resource I think will do nothing but help you along this journey. I just finished this book in about THREE DAYS! It was very informative and helped tie together many personality traits. We can’t change other people, only ourselves but if we know what out natural tendencies are + those of our spouse…we can definitely have a much more intuitive lens on how to interact with them. Which, can only help!
This is an affiliate link (it will cost nothing extra for you, but will help support this blog :), to read more about my site, please read here. )
Just Click the pic!