Several months ago, I attended a marriage conference at our church that was led by Steve and Debbie Wilson. They began the conference talking about expectations in marriage and gave three statements that explain the problems with expectations.
- Unspoken Expectations lead to discouragement.
- Unmet Expectations lead to disappointment.
- Unreasonable Expectation lead to defeat.
With these statements in mind, let’s look at some questions that will help define our expectations in our marriages.
When we get married, most of the time we carry a suitcase full of expectations. Some of those expectations are good and others are not so good. In every marriage and pre-marriage counseling situation, I ask the couple to share their expectations of marriage. I ask them to write them down and be as specific as they possibly can be. I encourage them to think about the different areas of the marriage relationship and write out expectations in each area. Most of the time couples bring back a list that includes:
- I expect to love and be loved.
- I expect to be best friends.
- I expect to be able to trust my spouse.
- I expect us to work together.
These are good expectations, but they are also very generic. Here is a list that I have started giving to couples to help with this exercise.
Questions To Define Your Expectations
- Who buys the groceries?
- Who cooks?
- Who cleans?
- Do we eat at the table as a family?
- How often do we eat out?
- Who washes clothes?
- Will we have a schedule for washing clothes?
- Who keeps up the yard?
- Who cleans the house?
- Do the children have chores?
- Do the children get an allowance?
- How often do we vacuum, mop, etc.?
- Do both spouses work outside of the home?
- Do we use credit cards?
- Do we save?
- Do we have separate accounts or a joint account?
- Do we plan for vacations or trips?
- Who pays the bills?
- Who balances the checkbook?
- What do we buy on credit?
- When do we start having children?
- How many children do we want?
- How will we discipline our children?
- How will we educate our children?
- How many outside activities will they participate in?
- How often will we have date night?
- How often will we plan a weekend w/o kids?
- How often will we have sex?
- What are the limits to our sexual activities?
- How often will we visit our parents?
- If we live in the same town, how often will we visit?
- If we live in separate towns, how often will we visit?
- What type of help will we expect from them?
- How much influence will we allow them to have on our relationship?
- If grandparents are living, the same questions apply.
- How much time will my hobby take up?
- Will I have a guys/girls night out? How often?
- How much alone time do I need?
There can be so many more questions that you can ask and answer to help you identify your expectations. Talking about your expectations will help you eliminate a great deal of the conflict in your marriage.
What questions would you ask as you discuss your expectations?
Bradley D. Watson, BCBT Directed Path Ministries
After spending more than 25 years on church staffs, God has allowed me to take the experiences and knowledge that I gained to develop a Biblical Counseling ministry. The basis of this ministry is to allow God’s Word to shine on the main issues in peoples’ lives in order to bring His resolutions to problems.