I love this article by fellow Boundless writer, Joshua Rogers. He sets forth three things that men should know about marriage before tying the knot. Essentially, these are three expectations that we have of ourselves or of marriage. They include (1) being a below average husband is easier than you think; (2) sex is awesome, but it takes effort; and (3) friendship is central to a healthy marriage.
All of us bring expectations to our marriages. Even I, going into marriage at a relatively mature age of 33 and with all of the advice and counsel of my married friends, likely have expectations that I do not even know that I hold, but that will become apparent through future conflicts with my husband. If we can address some of those expectations PRIOR to marriage, the hope is that we can reduce conflicts DURING marriage.
If I can sum up the key advice from Joshua’s article, I think they come down to be willing to accept constructive criticism and evaluation from friends and family, and to continue to foster communication, intimacy and connection with your spouse. Sounds so easy, right?
Joshua’s article reminds me of a book that my dear friend Abby gave me when I got engaged, called Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married, by Gary Chapman (also author of the love languages books). It includes such revelations as “the toilets are not self-cleaning” (haha). The book is very much about all of the assumptions that we bring into marriage – similar to the New York Times article I blogged about previously, we have ideals in our minds of our marriage should be and can end up feeling grievously disappointed and even questioning if we married the right person if we do not accept the reality that we married a real person, with real flaws, not an ideal.
I am not married yet, but even I can see that I have the expectations that Pat will always treat me lovingly and kindly, put my needs above his, and that all disagreements will be resolved through respectful and logical discourse. I am sure he thinks the same of me! And yet we all have bad days, bad moods, and self-centered attitudes.
If I can hopefully be preaching to myself a year or two in the future, it sounds like it comes down to not just addressing expectations, but also the very Christian principle of forgiveness. Pat will fail my expectations and I will fail his. But if I can remember that he is ultimately a good man who is trying his best and who has the good of our marriage as his goal, and I can forgive him and move on, then my strong hope is that we can have a good, lasting marriage.
For my readers, what expectations did you have of either marriage or dating and how have they changed?
(Photo from Joshua Rogers’ Boundless article).