How to Create Healthy Expectations In A Marriage

When is it okay to have expectations in your marriage? What is an example of an expectation I can have without setting my spouse up for a resentment?

I remember when I first met my wife, I “expected” her to be a climber/skier, like me. This led to a lot of fights and a lot of suffering. She felt judged. I felt resentful.

Most of us do this to some degree, that is, until we get clear on our realistic and honorable expectations and let go of the rest.

Here’s a few short comments on the subject along with what NOT to do. Knowing this will train you how to avoid more unnecessary fights.

Bottom line?

You need to know yourself.

You need to learn what works for you and what doesn’t work for you in your marriage. Otherwise, the fuzzier you are, the more fights you will get in and more resentments will plague your marriage.

My recommendation is to get clear on your 3-5 non-negotiables in your marriage. These become the bedrock boundaries that add to you feeling safer in your marriage, which leads to more fulfillment in your marriage.

Example of non-negotiables that you may want advocate for and draw a line in the sand for:

  • Monogamy
  • Personal Growth
  • Spirituality
  • Religious beliefs
  • Regular sex
  • “Safe” sex
  • We both pull our weight financially
  • You raise the kids, I work and provide (roles)
  • Kids or no kids
  • Abortion
  • No emotional, sexual, or physical violence
  • We seek professional help when we reach an impasse

Of course, any of these could be flexible for some people. The point is for you to be true to yourself, given wherever you are at in your development.

Exercise: Make a list of your top 3-5 non-negotiables and share them with your spouse. If you are not in a relationship yet, this is what you want to come into the relationship with.

For example, I would have never dated my wife if she wasn’t into personal growth and spiritual development. That’s a deal breaker for me. Lucky for me, she already had a high value on this, so we never struggled there. Now, our non-negotiable expectations of each other are clearly laid out. There’s no grey there.

So, go ahead, get out of the grey zone, make your list, and share it. See where it takes you. This will help you weed out the unrealistic expectations you didn’t even know you had.


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