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25 Great Expectations for Your Marriage

Most couples face common challenges in marriage. If you don’t discuss and resolve the differences between you and your spouse, you’re headed for rough marital waters.

By Dennis and Barbara Rainey

As you begin marriage, it’s common to have some expectations of what you will experience. But you probably have never made a list.

Here are some issues you will face during your first 3-5 years of marriage. For each one, write down how your expectations affect the issue. For example, number six on this list is “Establishing how you will grow together spiritually.” You may enter marriage with the expectation that you will pray together every night, while your spouse feels uncomfortable praying in front of another person. A wife may expect her husband to lead a devotional each week for the two of them. These expectations can lead to strain and conflict, especially when they are never acknowledged and discussed.

Write down your expectations in the following areas:

1. Finances: how you will control spending, what lifestyle you will live, etc.

2. Relating to the opposite sex

3. Loneliness

4. Relating to your in-laws

5. Differing views and desires about romance and affection

6. Establishing how you will grow together spiritually

7. Defining roles of husband and wife

8. Communication challenges

9. Decisions about priorities and values

10. Trials and suffering

11. Choice of where to attend church

12. Dealing with differences (including male/female, backgrounds, religious training, regional)

13. Travel for work

14. What type of debt is acceptable, and what is not

15. Children: how many will you have, when will you have them, etc.

16. Entertainment choices

17. What to do on weekends.

18. Keeping your own traditions about holidays, birthdays, and other celebrations

19. How you will resolve conflict when it comes

20. Work and career struggles.

21. Vacation decisions

22. Determining schedules

23. Sexual intimacy (hopefully lots of it!).

24. Assuming new roles of mother and father

25. Dealing with selfishness

Most couples face common challenges in marriage. If you don’t discuss and resolve the differences between you and your spouse, you’re headed for rough marital waters.

Here are four ways to resolve “great expectations”:

First, remember your wedding-day commitment to a lifetime of love and forgiveness. Remain committed. Love always. Remember, “love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).

Second, your marriage won’t grow without communication and understanding. Communication means talking and active listening. You’ll know you understand your spouse when you can verbally express your mate’s actual needs and desires and he or she agrees with that expression.

Communication is vital to clarifying your needs. The Bible urges husbands to “live with their wives in an understanding way.”(1 Peter 3:7) Guys, that means you have to seek to understand. Ladies, that means you have to help him understand you.

Third, work to develop God’s perspective of your spouse. Remember, God selected your spouse for you. Accept His provision, knowing that He has an agenda for your life through unmet expectations.

Finally, don’t give up on your dreams. All of the things you imagined your marriage to be may not come true. God may have a new dream for you to live together. Talk about your dreams. Then dream together.

Copyright © by FamilyLife. Used with permission.

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