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Expectations in marriage

Expectations in marriage is one of the things I didn’t really learn about until somewhere between our second and third year of marriage.

When I did learn about marriage expectations, I couldn’t believe no one had told me, or that it was not plastered in every marriage or pre-marriage book!

I was even expecting changing my last name to be easy. But it wasn’t.

Shouldn’t expectations in marriage be part of the marriage planning process?

You will eventually need to learn the marriage expectations of each other because it will help you to communicate effectively and efficiently.

Why you need to know his/her expectations in marriage

As a newlywed, it is definitely a big plus knowing your spouse’s expectations in marriage. It will improve communication in your marriage too.

A little explanation about what I mean by expectations in marriage.

We all grow up in homes that will always be different from our spouse’s. For us, it was entirely different cultures as well.

In my family, the men are the ones who take care of the car stuff, oil changes, car repairs, tire changes etc.

They usually repair stuff and do stereotypical “masculine” jobs. (An exception to this is my mother who does absolutely everything she can because she had to).

So during the beginning of our first year of marriage something in my brain clicked

“Yay! I don’t have to worry about changing the oil or tires anymore!”

I quickly got aggravated (yes I will admit as silly as this sounds) that my husband didn’t know the first thing about cars.

He came from a family that did not own a car, in fact, a lot of people in his country don’t. They are too expensive and a hassle.

I had to teach Marcus how to drive, change a tire, check the oil  and explained when we needed oil changes. But now, he looks forward to taking care of it.

I didn’t even realize I had this and many other unconscious  marriage expectations; specifically these role expectations.

Our parents, grandparents, whether present or absent played a certain role

And you might not even know that you expect certain roles to be played by your spouse!

If I had known these tips on marriage expectations during our first year of marriage, I would have known better how to communicate better with Marcus.

He had role expectations of me too; cooking meals, washing the dishes, laying the bed each morning, laundry etc. He knew how to do all of these things but in his culture women handle all of these.

Think about it.

What will any woman think of, if these are the basic roles expected of her, washing dishes and laundry with your hands, not the dishwasher or washing machine so your kids will appreciate using a dishwasher or the washing machine respectively?

I know I just explained a couple from the 1950’s, let me take a moment to clear things up.

I had a deal breaker that any man I would marry HAD to view men and women EQUALLY!

And share the house responsibilities equally.

Since I stay at home, I do about 80% of household duties (which I actually enjoy), but my husband takes care of anything I ask, and when he is home he does much more. Expectations in marriage

Most of the expectations in marriage relate to:

⇒ Finances. For example, how do you expect your spouse to spend money? Should we live debt-free? Do we need a monthly family budget?

⇒ Social life expectations E.g. How to have fun as a married couple?

⇒ Career expectations.

⇒ Family goals.

⇒ Physical activities E.g. Do you expect your spouse to exercise with you?

⇒ Emotional expectations E.g. Can you meet all of his/her needs?

⇒ Faith E.g. How often to go to church if Christians?

⇒ Communication E.g. How do you expect your spouse to communicate with you on the various issues like conflict, disagreements, etc.?

⇒ Selfishness. What does selfishness mean to you, and your wife or husband?

⇒ Priorities. What are your first priorities in life, and marriage? Who, or what activities comes first?

Did we miss something?

Does your spouse do, or not do, something that he/she may not know you expect them to do?

Is he/she expecting something of you that you don’t understand or know?

Marriage expectations is not something most couples are able to easily compromise on. From our own experience, it can take a few days to come to a compromise.

A good time to sit down and have a heart to heart discussion about the marriage expectations you have for each other might be today or this week.

Simply identify, communicate, and discuss your marriage expectations with your spouse.

In addition, a good place to start is to think about what your parents or the role models in your life did/do that you get aggravated that your spouse doesn’t do.  

We know communication is sometimes easier said than done but always remember to word the things you say in a way so it does not sound accusing.

Try using words like, “I’m not saying you are doing X on purpose, but this is just how I FEEL when you do X.”

If your spouse does not still understand it, try thinking from their point of view and explaining it in a different way.

If they still don’t get it, take a break and revisit after you both have time to think about it.

Actionable steps you can implement today with your spouse

Below are simple action steps you and your spouse can take to better understand each other’s marriage expectations.

And how to meet these expectations.

1. Be honest, realistic, and write down what you each expect of your spouse in your marriage (marriage expectations list) on separate sheets of paper.

2. Exchange your written answers and look through to see if you are meeting their expectations of you.

3. Clarify/explain your marriage expectations to each other. Are these marriage expectations realistic?

4. Discuss how you feel when your spouse meets any of your expectations? Are you excited, do you feel loved?

5. Discuss how you can both come to a compromise on how to meet each other’s marriage expectations, and right down what you each need to do to make your compromise a reality.

6. Put your written words into action, and evaluate within a months’ time (a simple marriage check up) to determine if you are meeting each other’s expectation for marriage.

If you are not, go over these steps again and identify what you did wrong; your spouse has your best interest.


Having unrealistic expectations in marriage could increase the chances of unmet marriage expectations in your marriage.

By doing all the above steps especially putting your words into action, you will have a better understanding of your spouse. You will be able to improve your communication with each other.

You might get angry sometimes but stay calm. Marriage is hard work, plus you can not force your spouse to change.

If you have unmet expectations in marriage, what can  your spouse do to help you?

Patience, compromise, communication, understanding, listening, and teamwork are the secret ingredients to meeting your spouse’s expectations for marriage.

Learning about role expectations in marriage was a total paradigm shift for me. And has positively impacted our marriage by preventing unmet marriage expectations, and some marriage issues from occurring.

I hope the experience I have shared will enable you to learn about your expectations in marriage.

Your turn:

What marriage expectations did/do you have for your spouse during your first year of marriage?

If you are not married, what are some of your expectations for marriage?

First image courtesy of Nirots / and second image courtesy of Imagerymagestic/

– Ashley

P.S. Want to build a strong foundation for your marriage? Read this book today.