Having expectations is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, setting expectations for your marriage is actually healthy and can lead to a more fulfilling relationship. People often enter into marriage without communicating their desires for the relationship. Even pre-marital counseling might not get deep enough into what each partner is hoping for in their marriage.


Setting clear and reasonable expectations for your marriage is important. It can be a balancing act however, because when your expectations are too lofty, you could set yourself up for disappointment and resentment. But when your expectations are just high enough, you’re more likely to rise to the challenge of creating a rewarding relationship.


Be sure that you are willing to put into the relationship what you expect to get out of it. A close and lasting bond requires regular nurturing. The hard work you invest in the beginning of your marriage is sure to pay off.


To succeed as a couple, your expectations need to be realistic and necessary. Try these tips for developing reasonable expectations for your marriage.


Spend Time Together

If you’re like the average couple, you spend about 2 hours a day together (mostly  watching TV). By increasing the quality and quantity of your interactions, you are more likely to meet one another’s expectations in your relationship. Here are some techniques for spending more time together.


  1. Be intentional about your quality time. Schedule regular date nights. Take turns planning romantic and entertaining evenings away from home. Go on evening walks together.
  2. Spend time with other couples. Hang out with couples whose relationships you admire. Not only can this help you to learn new skills, it can also inspire you to  appreciate your partner more.
  3. Find balance. While it’s important to share time and meaningful activities with your partner, you also want to preserve your identity. Many people, particularly women, can give so much of themselves to others that they may lose track of who they are. Stay connected to your relatives and friends. Maintain personal goals and hobbies.


Communicate Effectively

Effective communication is critical to any relationship. You can strengthen your communications skills by practicing on your own or with your partner. Try these strategies to improve communication within your marriage.

  1. Listen to your spouse. Pay close attention to what your spouse has to say. Listen for the facts and the emotions behind them. Validate your partner’s feelings and experiences even if you disagree. Refrain from interrupting by being slow to speak and quick to listen. Create an environment where you both feel safe to communicate.
  2. Resolve conflicts. Conflicts are natural and important in any close relationship and can draw you closer together if you resolve them respectfully. If the conversation ever gets heated, take a timeout and be sure to come back to one another within 24 hours to resolve it. Distinguish between the things you can change and the things you should accept. Apologize when you’re wrong and genuinely forgive your spouse.
  3. Express gratitude.  Regularly tell your partner how much you appreciate them. Find ways to show love and kindness to each other daily. Take out the garbage when it’s their turn. Write love notes and leave them in unsuspecting places.
  4. Share meaningful discussions. Are your conversations mostly about home repairs and orthodontist bills? This can lead to superficial monotony. Intentionally connect with each other on a deeper level. Talk about your difficult day, shared goals or memories.  


Other Tips

  1. Consider your purpose. What is the purpose of your marriage? Your expectations may have to do with companionship or personal fulfillment. Realize that when we plug into something bigger than ourselves, we cultivate deeper meaning in our lives.
  2. Be responsible. Remember that you’re responsible for your own happiness and choices in life. Although your partner can be supportive, it’s up to you to take charge of your own development.
  3. Work as a team. It is easier to reach your goals when you have someone on your side. Work together with your spouse to accomplish goals and tasks.  Support one another in things like decision making and parenting.
  4. Set boundaries. Healthy couples build and preserve reasonable limits. Decide how you wish to be treated and share your expectations with your spouse. Respectfully talk about other boundaries that you may need to establish with one another.
  5. Embrace change. Your relationship keeps growing and changing. Look for positive ways to adjust to the changes within your marriage. For example, although the honeymoon is over, you may be thankful for a more stable and mature sense of intimacy.


Setting healthy and realistic expectations for your marriage can make your relationship more joyful and satisfying. Revisit your and revise your expectations as your relationship changes. Use this guide to help you set you and your spouse up for success!


What kinds of expectations have you established in your marriage? Leave a comment below!

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