What do you expect from marriage? Honestly, do you think everything should be perfect?

Actually, many people marry and soon find that their spouse is annoying — not constantly of course, but more than they expected. Fairy tales and romantic novels suggest that a good marriage is an effortless, happily ever after experience, with the emphasis on effortless.


Rabbi Yosef Richards offers this tongue-in-cheek, but really truer to life view of marriage: “People are annoying. So find the person who annoys you the least and marry that one.”

A good marriage provides companionship, comfort, security, sex, and for most of us, a sense of completion. We feel more whole and more at home with our spouse.


But don’t let fairy tales and romantic movies and novels confuse you. Unrealistic expectations cause us to feel shortchanged. By keeping yours realistic, you’re much more likely to appreciate your partner’s good qualities and value your marriage.

The statements below show how to change some common unrealistic expectations for marriage into relationship enhancing ones.


It will be easy to transition from single to married.

I’ll never be lonely again.

I won’t be bored anymore.

We’ll never argue.

He’ll change after we’re married, in the ways I want him to.

He’ll know how I feel and what I want; I shouldn’t need to tell him.

Marriage is a 50-50 proposition.

He’ll do chores the way I want them done.

Sex will always be great.


Getting married is a big Change. It takes time to adjust to your new roles and to each other.

One person cannot satisfy all your needs for companionship. Maintain friendships with others.

You are responsible for keeping yourself entertained and interesting. It’s not his job.

Conflicts occur in close relationships. You can learn to manage them well.

“What you see is what you get.” Don’t expect him to change basic character traits or habits.

He can’t read your mind. If you want him to know something, you should to tell him.

It’s better to give and receive graciously than to get all even-Steven about what’s “fair.”

His standards and ways are likely to be different from yours. Best to accept this.

Sex should often be great but not every single time. Good communication helps here too.

If you hold some unrealistic expectations for marriage, you’re in good company. Such beliefs are widespread. In my therapy practice I see the damage they create in marriages. I also see the transformation that occurs when spouses lowers their expectations bar and become more accepting of each other.


The mind reading expectation is an example of a particularly harmful one because it often results in misunderstandings and hurt feelings. A spouse thinks, “Why doesn’t he do what I want (or get how I feel)? I shouldn’t have to tell him; he should know!”

The expectation for your spouse to read your mind can cause lasting harm to a relationship. A wife who’s disappointed with her husband for not sensing her needs may act out her feelings. She might give him the silent treatment or withhold sex. A husband who’s angry at his wife for not knowing what he wants might withdraw and sulk. Grudges build and the relationship gets compromised over time.


What if the wife in this example realizes that it’s unlikely to expect her husband to read her mind? She now tells herself, “If I want him to know what I feel, think, or need, I have to tell him.” And then she does express herself clearly and kindly.

By stating our feelings, wants, and needs directly and respectfully to our partner, we enhance understanding and strengthen our connection. Step by step instructions for how to use seven positive communication skills are included in Marriage Meetings for Lasting Love: 30 Minutes a Week to the Relationship You’ve Always Wanted.

By changing naïve expectations about marriage into a more realistic ones, we become more accepting of our mate and foster a happier, more fulfilling marriage.

Author's Bio: 

Marcia Naomi Berger, LCSW, author of Marriage Meetings for Lasting Love: 30 Minutes a Week to the Relationship You've Always Wanted (New World Library), is a psychotherapist in San Rafael, California. She helps people create relationships that are fulfilling in all the important ways-emotionally and spiritually as well as physically and materially, whether they are already married or want to be. www.marriagemeetings.com