Idealistic Expectation: Marriage should always be 50-50.
In some ways this is true. After all, both people have a role to play in the marriage and if one refuses to put in the energy, the marriage usually falters. However, this view is often too simplistic and can lead to the detrimental habit of score-keeping in a marriage.
Realistic Expectation: Both partners are expected to contribute to the marriage and the offerings may vary over time in both nature and amount.
There will be times when you put more in. And other times, your partner may bear the brunt of the efforts. Maybe one of you takes responsibility for the household and the other for the financial well-being. It’s less important that it is 50-50 than that the arrangement feels fair to both partners and that it always be open for renegotiation depending upon the circumstances.
Idealistic Expectation: I expect my spouse to be transparent with me.
Nobody tells their spouse everything. It’s not only impossible to relay the details of every moment spent apart and every thought that flickers through the mind, it would be deleterious.
Realistic Expectation: I can expect my partner to be honest and vulnerable with me.
While I don’t expect or want to know what my husband eats for lunch every day, I do expect that he would let me know about his concerns about a major project or his excitement for an upcoming seminar.
Idealistic Expectation: My spouse and I should have the same friend group.
Recent Facebook research has shown that spouses that have distinct friend groups are more likely to stay married than those that have more overlapping friends. While it’s important to have the social connections and support for the marriage, it’s also important to maintain some individual identity.
Realistic Expectation: I can expect my spouse to respect my friends and that we will share some friends in common.
It’s important to have some shared friends, for the marriage to exist within a larger social group. Yet not all friends need to be shared. Or even liked. You can respect your spouse’s friendships without necessarily respecting the friend.
Idealistic Expectation: I can tell what my spouse is thinking.
Once you’ve spent time with someone, you begin to predict their reactions. It’s easy to catch that certain look on their face and fill in the blanks about what is happening inside their mind. But it’s really just an educated guess.
Realistic Expectation: Based on past experience, I can make reasonable predictions about my spouse’s reactions but I also give them the space and opportunity to change.
It’s good to know that your partner doesn’t prefer cheese in their eggs. But also be willing to listen if one day the decide that cheddar really does complement a good scramble. This realization also helps to counteract the feeling of complacency that can settle into a marriage.