#1: Two Don’t Become One
When asked what she wished she had known before she got married, Maria answered, “Nothing—I was good to go.” When you’re young and in love, you too may think you’re good to go. You might not be. It depends upon how much you’re going to try to make yourself and your marriage measure up to the mythical ideal.
Renee tried! When she started really looking at why she was so unhappy, she realized that she believed it was her job to give up what she loved and embrace what her husband loved in every area of their lives. She just could not live up to her own ideal of what it meant to be a wife.
If you try to constrict yourself into half of who you are in order to become the wife you think you're supposed to be, you may end up surprising yourself by:
There’s no way to know ahead of time exactly what your marriage is going to be like. You have ideals and fantasies based on the marriages you observed when you were a child and what the media has taught you about marriage. Your real learning will come from experience, from the day-to-day reality of creating your life as a married couple.
#5: Expectations Don’t Have Much Connection to Reality
Morgan says, “I had many unspoken and not-conscious expectations. I felt like I needed to fit into a role that I had seen modeled, and I expected my husband to fit that role also.”
Be careful about making assumptions—especially about yourself, your husband, and what your marriage is going to be like. If you think about the word “assume” as “ass-u-me,” it may help you remember that when you make an assumption, you’re in danger of making an ass out of you and me.
If you don’t avoid making assumptions, you may assume your marriage will be traditional, a lot like your stay-at-home mother’s. You may assume that you’ll both work and share everything. You may assume that you’ll live happily ever after.
You may be like Melissa and assume that you are the only responsible person in the world. Even though you have a full-time job, you may assume that it is also your role to be fully responsible for the household, the grocery shopping, and the childcare. Because many men still have that assumption about the role of the women they marry, you are very likely to find and marry one of them, especially if you are like Melissa.
Your husband may say he will share responsibilities, but his assumption about what that means is probably quite different from your assumption about what it means. Assumptions will get you into trouble every time. They are definitely not a substitute for conversations.
Many of the women who answered my questions shared that their marriages didn’t match their expectations.
Gretchen said, “It isn’t a 50-50 deal. I do most of the work at home.”
- exploding over something simple
- starting to fight frequently about everything and nothing
- getting depressed
- losing interest in making love
- finding someone else so attractive you wonder if you've married the wrong man
Janet admitted, “I made an assumption of reciprocity and didn’t notice that there wasn’t any.”
Several others said, “It didn’t turn out to be the traditional marriage I expected.”
Susan summed it up by saying, “I would’ve liked a more realistic view of what living with someone was like.”
When your expectations aren’t met, you may be unhappy, and now you realize why. I was angry at my husband without really knowing that I was angry. Actually, after a while, I was just angry at my life but not aware that I had any other options. I had no clue that my hidden emotions were affecting my behavior. They did, and that probably had something to do with the reason my husband suggested that we see a therapist. I was lucky.
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