- Boundaries: Where does the line around the couple go? Who is in it, and who is out of it? Do both partners agree on how much interference will be tolerated by relatives and friends? How many and what kind of activities will you each do without the other partner?
- Investment: How much time and effort does each partner feel the other should be putting into the relationship? What expressions of caring do partners prefer? Gifts? Physical touch? Words of affirmation? Acts of service? Quality time? Are your expressions of love meeting the receiver’s needs and not just your needs?
- Control and Power: Is power shared? How? Who makes the decisions? Do both partners feel they have influence in the decision-making process? How do you communicate about important issues?
Therefore, we need to do four things about expectations in marriage:
- Be aware of what you expect. Unless you and your mate have been purposeful about discussing your expectations, you likely bring many to your marriage of which you are not consciously aware or you never made clear. Does your partner know yours? Do you know your partner’s?
- Be reasonable in what you expect. Just having an expectation does not make it reasonable or realistic. Is it an expectation you, as a couple, can meet or might it need to be adjusted?
- Be clear about what you expect. Expectations must be expressed. Love doesn’t turn people into mind readers. Be willing to express your expectations in a respectful manner. If necessary, evaluate, discuss, and adjust them. It isn’t the differences in expectations that are harmful, but the lack of communication about those differences.
- Be motivated to meet your mate’s expectations, even when you don’t have the same expectations. Early on in relationships, partners are attentive to knowing and meeting each other’s needs. Unfortunately, as our lives become busy with other things we sometimes forget to pay attention to those needs. Make a conscious effort to know and meet your partner’s expectations.