anchored in light

A lifestyle blog about finding light in every avenue of life

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Managing Expectations in Marriage

Brian and I have been married over 1000 days. We realized just yesterday that our 1000 day mark had passed (on July 31...) and I got to thinking about how our marriage has gone so differently than I expected. 

I don't know about you guys, but when I was a teenager I was encouraged to make a list of things that I wanted in my future husband. It was fun to daydream about what my future husband might be like. I put things on the list like: 

  • Over 6 feet tall
  • Handsome
  • Good sense of humor
  • Returned Missionary
  • Marry in the temple
  • Kind
  • Brown Hair
  • Blue Eyes
None of this seemed very unreasonable to me. Through the years the list got longer and more detailed in my head. I nicknamed my future husband Jeremy Manhandsome. He would be everything that I ever needed. He would take care of me and have virtually no flaws while being patient with my own flaws. Of course, he would be rich and I'd never have to work again. We'd live in a beautiful house at the top of some seaside cliff where we would spend our days together and take our little family traveling around the world. I'd be married by 23 and everything would settle right into place.

Logically I knew that it was a fantasy, but that didn't stop my little heart from hooking right into that dream. 

As the years went by my fantasy shifted a bit to accommodate the fact that I wasn't married by 23. Instead, I would move to California, instantly learn to surf perfectly and catch the eye of some handsome surfer *who may or may not have looked like Jeremy Sumpter*. I'd be the girl that all the boys wanted, but couldn't have, until my Jeremy came along and we'd settle down together on our seaside cliff beach house...

So when my fairytale started out with me living at home with my new husband who I met when we were 16, but who wasn't 6 feet tall, and wasn't a surfer, I thought that I had reasonably adjusted my expectations. I knew that we wouldn't be living in a beachside house (at least not any time soon) and I knew that babies would be coming later than I expected, and I knew that we'd probably have fewer babies than I had planned on. What I didn't expect was that I also had sneaky little expectations that I hadn't really even thought about. Things like eating breakfast together. 

I knew going in that Brian wasn't big on mornings. I knew that and yet I somehow thought that my winning smile would be enough to turn that around. I think it was a full two months of waking him up every 30 minutes starting at 8 AM that I realized that just because we were married and he loved me, it wasn't going to turn him into a morning person. 

At first, I was very sad. I had to let go of that part of my expectations. I had to let go of the idea of spending those early mornings together, and I had to let go of the idea that Brian would bring me breakfast in bed. That was probably the hardest part of early marriage for me, expecting things to go a certain way and to have them go a different way. It wasn't until I was standing in the shower one day, thinking about a quote by Marjorie Pay Hinckley about how the key to a long and happy marriage is to lower your expectations. I thought that if someone had to lower their expectations to have a happy marriage to a prophet (and arguably an amazing man), then I should probably put a few of my expectations aside and I could do it without settling in any way.

Once I realized this, it allowed me to see Brian for who he really was and all that he was actually doing. When I stopped expecting him to wake up early with me I learned to enjoy the time to study my scriptures and get "me time" things done. When I stopped expecting him to bring me breakfast in bed, I realized that he often made me dinner without complaint, that he brought me flowers on random occasions. I got all these little bonus things I never even thought to put on my "expectations" list, but were things that made my life so much more beautiful and wonderful. 

That said, here are a few tips for managing your expectations:
  • Voice reasonable expectations (communication is key!)
  • Make a list of all that your spouse IS, things that you love, not what you wish they would be
  • Be forgiving, nothing is going to go the way you expected all of the time, or even most of the time
I don't think it's good to let go of all expectations, I don't think it's healthy and I'm really not sure that it's even possible, which is why I think it's so important to manage expectations.

Don't let what you expected, keep you from seeing what you have.

What was the hardest part of early marriage for you? How do YOU manage your expectations in marriage?

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