Think of something you treasure. It might be a valuable heirloom clock, a Civil War gun passed down through the family, your great grandmother’s china, or a handkerchief given to you by your mother on your wedding day. What would your expectations be about protecting this treasure.
What words would you use to describe this treasure?
VALUABLE, CHERISHED, SPECIAL, ONE-OF-A-KIND
SENTIMENTAL, HEIRLOOM, PRICELESS
All of these words could be used to describe something you hold dear and precious. Typically we take good care of these items by keeping them safe. We store them for use on special occasions and make sure they don’t get abused.
So if this is the way we treat something we value and see as a treasure, why wouldn’t we treat our relationship with our spouse the same way? Why wouldn’t we treat it as something of value and with the same care and respect?
“Where a man’s heart is, there is his treasure also.”
At some point in our relationship, we determined that this person was who we wanted to spend the rest of our life with. If you met and quickly committed to each other, you may have still been in the romance/infatuation phase of dating.
ROMANTIC / INFATUATION PHASE
In this phase, the other person can do no wrong, and every time they walk in the room your heart skips a little. You walk through your days and hear birds singing and smell sweet fragrances everywhere.
If you wait at least a year before getting married, then you will probably experienc a little more reality. Going through holidays and birthdays and the change of seasons reveals more about a person’s true personality and character. When you see how they get along with family and navigate time with them, you can see a different side than on a day-to-day basis. This can reveal a lot about your future spouse’s home life growing up, their upbringing, and expectations about your future together. This is a great time to talk about the parts of your childhood that you liked or didn’t like.
It’s also a great time to talk about the expectations you have for your life together.
- Will both of you work to support the family?
- Do you plan on having kids? If so, how many?
- Where would you like to live? Near family or far away?
- What is your view of a healthy work/play balance in life?
We each have tons of expectations that we assume are “normal” just because of the environment in which we were raised.
For instance were you raised:
- Single-parent home / two parent home?
- Birth parents / step-parents / adopted parents?
- One income / dual income?
- City / suburb / country?
- Love and respect practiced / contempt, fear, and dis-respect practiced?
- Saver of money / spender of money?
If you’re not married yet or only a few years into marriage use the list. Start some discussions about expectations. You’ll be amazed at how these topics can turn up all kinds of areas. These areas could later bring conflict, disappointment and unmet preference in your marriage.
Because Mike and I were both raised in original parent families with mothers who worked inside the home, this could have been an expectation of either of us. However, we discussed these options, and before we got married, we both knew how much I enjoyed working outside the home. We also determined that staying at home a couple of years with our babies would be our best scenario. This would depend on our income at the time. Because we’d had these conversations early on, we set ourselves up to fulfill our expectations. We lived in a smaller home, didn’t have much debt, and were able to live out that dream the way “we expected.”
Because we had discussed these topics and had come to an agreement before we had a child there was less disappointment. We had less disappointment because we didn’t have unmet expectations going into the parenthood phase of our marriage.
WE’RE NEVER GETTING MARRIED PHASE
For you folks who have been together for years but not determined that a “till death do us part” relationship is for you, I bet expectations have already come up. If not, they will, so this is a good exercise for you too.
Discuss the hard subjects above to see where you will run into disappointment due to unmet expectations.
At the beginning of this blog, we defined a treasure as something or someone precious and worthy of good care. By discussing and defining these hopes and preferences in your relationship, you’re showing your spouse that you value them. By doing this exercise, you share your concern for their wellbeing and the love you have for them. This builds hope and trust in your marriage and will be an exercise you can do throughout your relationship. Guess what – expectations change, and new ones show up!!!
Comment below on expectations you and your spouse discover in this process.