Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Marriage Expectations

"Expectation is the root of all heartache." --Shakespeare

EXPECTATION: The act or state of expecting or the state of being expected, to look forward to, an attitude of expectancy, to regard something with expectation.

When one thinks of the word expectation the definition varies. I narrowed my question to this. What does expectation mean in a marriage? I have asked many for their first instincts of what they thought the meaning of expectation was to them in a marriage. 

Is it wrong to have expectations in a marriage? Should there be expectations in a marriage? What should I expect from my spouse? What should my spouse expect from me?

Yes, having expectations is natural and is unavoidable in every relationship you have. Even if you think you don’t have any, you actually do. The concern or question is, what do you expect? Are your expectations unreasonable? Does your spouse have unreasonable expectations of you? For example: Does your spouse expect you to have dinner ready by the time they get home? Is this reasonable? Did you discuss it? If you are a willing participant then is it their fault to expect it every night?

How about: Being the one to be the stay-at-home parent. Was this expected or was it discussed? An assumption is the same as an expectation.

It’s okay to have expectations. What can cause controversy is whether or not you are being reasonable. Are your demands, requirements or assumptions causing problems? What about hopes, fears, outlook, wants or beliefs? These are all considered expectations.
How you view them and how you view them together is important.

If you have the belief that your children will grow up in a catholic community and your spouse doesn’t want that, then that expectation (belief) is going to cause someone disappointment.

When my husband and I married we vowed to be loyal, honest, and faithful. We didn’t vow to cook every night, to clean every day, do laundry, take out the trash, or any other chore. These are shared responsibilities that just happen. We do what needs to be done. I expect my husband to be my partner and confidant—not always equal but definitely not his child or pet. Other than our vows, over the years we had to change what some of our expectations/assumptions were. Nothing was like the way we grew up.

We worked outside the home and had outside responsibilities, too. We don’t assume one has a role—we both have the role of being a parent to our children and a spouse to each other. When my husband goes to the bathroom does he always put the lid down? Does he always clean up after himself or do what I think he should do during his time off around the house? NO, lol, of course not. In the same regard he could say the same about me. Does it cause turmoil? No, does it cause disappointments? Sometimes.

I think of it this way. My demands or requirements are not for him to do this or do that around the house or else I make his life miserable. However we do let each other know when we are disappointed. This is where our, sometimes, morbid sense of humor kicks in.

Our outlook, hopes, wants, and beliefs are that we make decisions that are best for our family. That we can make a decision without the other unless it is something that will affect one member or all. Such as: large purchases, school, religion, or punishments. We choose our battles wisely. At least we try to choose our battles wisely. This way our expectations do not flail off in all directions. Our children learn what is important to expect in anything they do, defining right from wrong even while problem solving.

One thing to consider is the way our parents grew up, although the way we grew up will most probably be different when you start a family. Change is good; expectations are good to have in your marriage. Just be careful about what you choose as your expectations. Life is full of all sorts of assumptions, requirements, demands, and insistences, but it is also full of hopes, beliefs, fears, wants, and outlooks. How you choose to view these is what will either make or break any relationship.

I know the expectations I set for myself outweigh any of those set by others. My disappointments are my own.

This conversation could go on for hours and meanings are endless pertaining to the role of expectations. It is definitely something to consider.

My husband was one of the people I asked about his meaning of “expectations in a marriage.” Before showing him what I wrote, he said this. “I expect you to be my wife, my best friend, my partner in good and bad times”.

Then I showed him what I wrote, and after laughing at my lines about chores, he seriously looked at me and said, “I agree.”

Laugh often,
Lisa Gerard

Lisa Gerard is a personal trainer for core strengthening and conditioning exercises of all ages. A martial artist (second degree black belt) experienced in instructing self defense (blind/visually impaired) and tournament competitions, Gymnastics instructor 18 months to adult, LIIFT practitioner, a former business owner of an interior design company commercial/residential for over twenty years. In addition to being an artist, baker, and writer she is also a Mother to three teenage children and a wife of twenty plus years.

* * * * *

Going Deeper

St. Paul, Diving… and Arithmetic

Love is patient…. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. So teaches St. Paul in his First Letter to the Corinthians.

Love is the spirit working in us, and the spirit does not work on command.

If that is so, and if education is one of the acts of love we offer our children, how can we push them through their education as though learning were a heavy task?

I once heard a teacher explain her work with young children as “the mouse race that gets them ready for the rat race.”


But what if we set a more positive environment, one in which learning is a joy rather than a task – an environment without artificial deadlines – an environment where faith in the child replaces fear of the future?

Let me, if I may, tell you a true story. It is a story about learning to dive, but it is applicable, I believe, to any learning experience.

We introduced our son, Martin, to swimming when he was seven months old, and he took to it with the exuberance he brought to every new adventure in his young life.

Then, when he was about two-and-a-half, I decided to introduce him to diving. But I made a conscious decision not to do the traditional fall-headfirst-into-the-water drill.

Nor did I ever ask Martin to dive. I simply started to talk about diving, I dived, and we occasionally stopped to watch other people dive.

And Martin would sit on the side of the pool, hold my fingers, and jump in. After a time he stood on the side, held my fingers, and jumped in. Pretty soon he was jumping in without needing my fingers for confidence.

For a couple months, maybe more, a part of every trip to the Y was talking about diving, watching diving… and jumping in. Martin sometimes spent 10 minutes or more of our swimming time jumping in/climbing out, jumping in/climbing out, jumping in/climbing out. It was almost obsessive-compulsive behavior. But he was having fun.

Never once did he attempt a dive. Never once did I ask him to dive.

Then there came a really cold February night when the winter chill seemed to seep through the cinder blocks at the Y and invade every body that wasn’t actually in the water. Martin did his jump in/climb out routine and then climbed out of the water one last time and stood by the side of the pool, arms tucked into his body and fists clenched hard against his chin – the classic position of little children who are very cold.

“Are you cold, Martin?” I asked. “Do you want to get out?”

“No,” he said, continuing to stand. 

And then he raised his hands above his head and launched himself into a first-attempt technically perfect dive. He simply dived in.

Love is patient… and has a power way beyond mouse and rat races.

John Overbeck is a writer with a background in journalism and freelance writing, and a teacher with a quarter of a century of experience. For seven years he taught at a K-12 school for the gifted, two of those years as a teaching principal. He can be contacted at:

* * * * *

An invitation from Pastor Eastman

Any time you think that some one-on-one conversation might be useful in strengthening your marriage, contact me, Pastor Eastman, at / We know many counselors and healers who provide great support to couples, and my job is to help you connect with someone who is a good fit to help you move forward in your loving and working relationships. Calling me is best because you will get a quicker response:  513 853 6180, but or text 513 703 8196 will also work.