Tuesday, July 23, 2013

What Are Appropriate Expectations for Marriage?

"Expectations are the path to an unhappy marriage," declared a recent quote I came across.

Is it right to have any expectations in marriage? If so, what are healthy ones that aren't stepping stones on the path to an unhappy marriage?


Years ago I had a mild disagreement with a friend who said he didn't feel it was right for spouses to have expectations of one another. "We need to just accept one another like we are," he said.  "Expectations just lead to fights."  Hmmmmm.


I might have been more inclined to listen had there not been such inequity in his marriage. This particular friend played video games for hours while his wife cooked dinner, cleaned up, and cared for the children. He went out to play basketball, golf and other sports with friends on a weekly basis while his spouse rocked children and scrubbed floors. He pretty much did what he wanted to do when he wanted to do it while she cared for their several small children around the clock and worked tirelessly to keep a home. Times of refreshing for her were few and far between. Oh...did I mention she was a pastor's wife? These were just the home expectations. At the church she was expected to fulfill what I would call the "old school" expectations of your typical pastor's wife of the 1950's.

I know for a fact that if his wife would have woke up any day of the week and said, "By the way, I'm not going to take care of the kids today..." or, "I'm not going to be at church this morning," he would have had a conniption.

This relationship was (and for all I know still is?) very one sided where one person fulfills the expectations of the other, while receiving precious little themselves.

I've been thinking a lot about this lately, as one friend in ministry recently walked away from her marriage, tired of the inequity and unmet expectations.

A lot of people have criticized her decision, saying how wrong it was of her to not just accept her husband as he was. She was counseled by many to pray for better days to come, patiently wait, and accept her husband and her marriage the way it was if they didn't. But, what if she suddenly changed and stopped meeting all of his expectations? Would he have just accepted her as she was, not complained and patiently and prayerfully waited for better days?

Is it an unwritten rule that women are to bend and have less expectations of men and prayerfully wait while the guys live by a different set of rules?

I'm curious.
What do YOU feel are proper expectations in marriage?

I am fairly certain the vast majority of people will agree that faithfulness is essential. (Not cheating on your spouse.)

Beyond faithfulness...what's healthy?

Talk to me.

 

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