Thursday, June 27, 2013

Seven Expectations in Marriage and How to Handle Them

“I love you and I think you’re perfect just the way you are. But….”

Weddings are a blissful time. A time when two people who have presented their best sides come together to unite as one, expecting the perfection they saw on their wedding day to last forever. A wise couple, however, realizes situations will arise that will alter their image of perfection. Below I’ve listed seven things you can expect in a committed relationship and how to deal with those expectations.

Expect Compromises
If you expect that you and your spouse will agree on everything, you’re in for a shock. There will be disagreements, and unless you live in a stone-age mentality where the man makes all the decisions and the woman goes along with it without complaint, or, unless you live in a feminist-age mentality where the woman makes all the decisions and the man goes along without complaint, then compromise is your best option for harmonious living. But, compromise doesn’t have to be handled with dread or a sense of defeat. 
Compromise is a form of mutual success. Begin by yielding more on issues of less importance, and with that practice behind you, the larger issues can be worked through with less effort. Decisions where one person has more experience or expertise should be handled by that person. For instance, my wife works for a bank and has knowledge of investments and estate planning. I gladly yield to her wisdom. On the other hand, I love electronic devices and the latest gadgets. My wife lets me make the majority of those decisions. 

Compromises on issues of equal importance to both should—when possible—have equal amounts of giving. However, there might be times when an issue is so important to one, that the other person might feel the compromise has been one-sided. For instance, the husband might want to keep a loaded gun in the house, but the wife might be adamantly opposed—especially if they have young children. He may feel strongly about having the gun in order to protect his family, and in some home situations that could be a genuine concern. At the same time, her fear of an accident happening that might injure or kill a child is also important. It’s easy to see how compromise in some situations seems nearly impossible. Even in a situation where the compromise for one is minimal or seemingly not at all, it’s important that both sides be heard and understood. 

One last word of advice here: Don’t keep score. Whatever compromises happened in the past should be left in the past. Don’t bring them up when trying to make a new decision. 

Expect Forgiveness
Mistakes will be made—plenty—and by both parties. Being in love may mean never having to say you’re sorry (a line from an old movie), but staying in love means saying you’re sorry and seeking forgiveness on a regular basis. It would be foolish, however, to expect forgiveness for making the same mistake three times in one day. If that happens, it usually means something is happening on a deeper level and needs attention. Also, many incidents that require forgiveness are a result of misunderstandings and miscommunications. 

Expect Changes
People change, situations change, and times change. Nothing remains the same. Expect it and embrace it. The love you experienced on your wedding day changes. It’s up to you as a couple to make certain the changes are positive—not negative. Find ways to renew your love on a regular basis. Recognize the changing love and celebrate its positive side. 

Older couples may realize their need for verbal communication decreases over time, but their ability to communicate with a look, a smile, a soft touch has increased and speaks volumes. In fact, Pastor Eastman encourages every couple he marries to learn to dance, and to dance often. Dance is another form of non-verbal communication. I know a couple who made a pact that whenever their favorite song was played they would stop what they were doing, find each other, and dance together. 

Expect Happiness
Love and happiness go together. Life’s circumstances can eat away at our happiness, so it’s important to have that special someone in your life that renews your happiness simply by being with him or her. Hurts and disappointments are shared and thus lessened. You can expect happiness to be a part of your married life. They say you can’t make someone else happy, and there is a measure of truth in that. But, anyone who has ever been in love knows that simply being with the one they love makes them happy. Maintaining that throughout the years is a choice. By being positive, kind, compassionate, and loving, we make our lives a garden where happiness grows naturally.

Expect Loyalty
You might disagree with your spouse, but loyalty goes deeper than mere disagreements. At the end of the day, if you’re married to your best friend you can expect and will receive loyalty from him or her, and giving it to them in return comes naturally. Being in love is a lot like owning a dog. Happiness, loyalty, and unconditional love are all a part of owning a dog and also a part of being in love. 

There are seeming exceptions, however. For instance, if one partner is an alcoholic, he or she may expect the other to drink with him or her. Loyalty doesn’t necessarily mean doing something that is harmful. Loyalty in that situation means not supporting the drinking and suggesting an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting instead. Loyalty means loving support for what is in the ultimate best interest—not just for temporary pleasure. Loyalty within reason means loving faithfulness to the highest and best.

Expect Friendship
“Best friends forever” or BFF, has become a popular expression, and married couples who have determined to be best friends forever have the best chance of surviving the road ahead. I’m always happy to see couples marry who were best friends first, and lovers later. Those who experience the physical aspect of love without developing the friendship often have to play catch-up. Both are important, but friendship is so important that most relationships won’t last without it. Expect your spouse to be your best friend and develop that friendship daily by talking about your day, your feelings, and your hopes and dreams. Spend time together doing things that best friends do.

Expect Love
A loveless marriage can bring misery to both parties. Married couples should always find a way to keep the embers of love glowing brightly. Without love, you’re simply living in a partnership—much like a business relationship. You can find ways to make it work, but why not bring love back into the equation and make it all that it was meant to be? The person in the relationship who feels as if the love has vanished is usually the one who is best positioned to correct the situation. Ignite a small fire. It might be through physical love, or might be something along the lines of communication as if reuniting with a best friend you haven’t spoken to for a while.

Contributed by Wayne Holmes
About Pastor Wayne Holmes
Pastor Holmes is a co-founder of Religious Recovery which is a self-help group dedicated to helping those who have been hurt, disappointed or abused by religion or the religious: ( He is also a wedding officiant and works with couples in relationship healing. To contact Wayne you may e-mail him at

Going Deeper: Religious Expectations

“What if everyone’s religious expectations were to live a life free from judgment, equality for all, and where love was the major principle guiding our lives?”

Religion is often a volatile subject—even with your best friend or spouse. Many of the weddings I perform include couples with different religious backgrounds and beliefs—Catholic/Protestant, Christian/Buddhist, Christian/Jewish, liberal Christian/conservative Christian, Mormon/Christian, and the list goes on. Unless extensive communication has occurred before the wedding, these couples bring expectations and beliefs to their marriage that often have to be resolved at a later date—for instance when the children come along and the parents want to decide what religious faith they will raise them in.

My work in Religious Recovery gives me a unique perspective on these issues. If you are dealing with matters of religious differences and need some insights from a third party, I would be happy to work with you. Religious healing sessions for individuals or couples are available for a suggested donation of $40 an hour, but if price is a deterrent, we may be able to work something out. A Religious Recovery meeting can also help work out some of the religious issues in your relationship, and those meetings are free (donations are accepted but not required). For information about Religious Recovery visit: Or, you may contact me at

 A general invitation from Pastor Eastman
Any time you think that some one-on-one conversation might be useful in strengthening your marriage, contact me. We know many counselors and healers who provide great support to couples, and it is my pleasure to help you connect with someone who is a good fit to help you move forward in your loving and working relationship. Calling me usually gets a quicker response: 513 853 6180, but e-mail: or text: 513 703 8196 will also work. —Pastor Brian Eastman