10 Unfair Relationship Expectations That Severely Damage Your Marriage

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couple hugging

It's natural to grow up with certain relationship expectations of what our loving spouse or partner will do and be. Unfortunately, many of these expectations do not meet reality.

As much as typical gender stereotype expectations have evolved, we still may bring some unconscious hangovers into a romantic relationship.

The best thing to do is to make these expectations conscious so that you can talk about them, deal with them and come to some compromises about them. 

10 unrealistic relationship expectations that severely damage your marriage:

1. You expect sex every night.

This is a big issue. People have different expectations about what their sex life will look like once they're married.

If you're having sex every night at the beginning of the relationship, but after your marriage night you or your spouse are not so interested, someone may feel gypped and that’s how resentment begins.

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2. You think your mate will express love the same way you do

You also may have expectations about what love should look like, which may differ strongly from your partner’s. If your husband expects you to reach out, hug him and kiss him throughout the day, but you’re not touchy-feely, how's that going to go over?

And what if your expectation of real love is that your husband will give you gifts every day? You need to address what love is to each of you and make sure you both understand what the other needs to feel loved.

3. You prioritize friends and family over your relationship

Once you got married, did you put all your friends and family into a big pot and stir them all together to form a whole new conglomeration of everybody? No? Then how's this going to work? 

If you assumed that you would just all start spending holidays at your family's house because it's tradition, but your spouse thought the same about his side, what's a gal to do? And if your husband has always included friends in his big decisions, but you don’t really want them inside your business, how’s that going to play out?

4. You assume your spouse will take care of 'manly' chores

Maybe for your husband, growing up he always saw his mother doing the vacuuming, the dusting, and the dishes. This then is what he thinks your marriage will look like. 

Are you going to expect him to be the one to pay the bills or fix the leaking roof because that’s what your father did?

Don't assume these cultural expectations aren’t at work without you realizing it. Figure out a fair and equitable way to break up all the chores and responsibilities that need to be managed.

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5. You expect your idea of free time to match his

If you like to spend Friday nights at the karaoke bar with your girlfriends, but your husband thinks that should be couples’ night, friction will ensue. 

And what about the simpler, everyday free time you find yourselves with — do you expect summer Sundays to be spent taking the kids to a museum or on another adventure, but your spouse wants Sunday as a do-nothing day?

You’ve got to make it clear what you need for yourself, and make sure your mate has his own time and space, too.

6. You believe your spending habits are faultless.

Money is a sensitive topic for just about everyone. You’ve spent a lot of time figuring out how much you allow yourself to splurge on fun things, how much you think you need for the essentials, and what you would do if you inherited money.

But have you ever sat down and laid out on the table what those spending practices are and why you believe in them? It may take some digging to figure out what your expectations are in life, but you would do well to set time aside with your husband to figure out what you both think.

7. You expect that the woman will handle everything with the kids

Do you expect both parents to share the load of child-rearing? Obviously, if both parents are working jobs outside the home, there's going to need to be an understanding of who will do what. 

Be sure you find out if your spouse has hidden expectations that, because you're the mom, you will just naturally do all the kid stuff. That's not the way it works nowadays.

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8. You expect to retire in your dream place

This is a topic that couples don’t like to think about.

Do you see yourself retiring by the beach while your spouse plans to follow your children around the country wherever they move? Or, you know that land in Brazil your guy always likes to dream about owning? 

You might want to ask if he’s serious. Because if he’s got a long-term retirement dream that you’re not on board with, better to deal with it sooner than later.

9. You assume your way of communicating is the best

This is key to exploring your expectations, but sometimes, people can’t even agree on how to have a talk. Some folks like to stick to one subject and take structured turns, while others may like it to be more free-flowing.

You’ve got to be clear with how you expect discussions to go; otherwise, you may end up derailing all your talks into an argument about who is or isn’t following the talking "rules."

10. You don't compromise

Question your expectations. Are they fair to have in the real-life situation that you're in? Discuss with your mate your expectations and his. This will help you guys to understand what you can and cannot change.

While in many cases we may be disappointed by expectations that are not met, take a look at the ways that your spouse is filling other expectations even more than what you had dreamed.

See what ways you might be able to step up to the plate to meet some of his expectations and vice versa. Because that’s what love is all about — making things work together in a conscious, realistic, and equitable way.

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Sheila Hageman has appeared on numerous TV shows and her writing has been featured in Salon, Mom Babble, Say It With A Bang, She Knows, and Huffington Post.