As you’re preparing for your wedding, remember that you’re also preparing for your marriage (and that your marriage will last a lot longer than that one big day!). Our relationship advice? Be sure to set aside some time to think and talk about what you want your marriage to look like, as well as what expectations each of you have for the years ahead. Here are a few tips on how to set expectations that are realistic but don’t sell your relationship short.
Everyone has expectations going into a relationship, whether it’s a business partnership or a marriage. Finding a way to discuss those expectations, as well as make sure they’re ones that set the two of you up for success, will help you get your marriage off to a smooth start. Expectations will give you something to strive and work toward as a couple—but set them too high and you may feel that you can’t meet your partner’s expectations, leading to a rocky road ahead.
The first thing to do when establishing expectations in your relationship is to start with the basics. These are the day-to-day expectations that will keep your family moving along. Do you plan to divide up the chores between the two of you or take turns, depending on who made dinner or what your schedules are? Will you be handling family finances together, or will the partner who is better with numbers take the lead? You’ll avoid conflicts over what you thought or expected the other person would do if you’ve established up front how you’ll handle these smaller tasks.
Now it’s time to tackle the bigger issues. Start with a little introspection. Make a list of what each of you expects from the relationship, as well as your three to five nonnegotiable wants and needs. This could be anything from assuming your partner will be the primary breadwinner to wanting a certain number of children to needing to be able to practice your faith. There’s a good chance your partner will have a different set of expectations, so be prepared to be flexible and have in-depth discussions to find a compromise that works for both of you. When it comes to your nonnegotiables, figure out the best way to respect each other’s wishes. That might mean that you’ll watch the kids while your partner goes to church on Sundays, or that your partner will be supportive as you work to change your career path or follow a dream for personal growth.
Remember, life is fluid and constantly changing. You’ll need to revisit these expectations in the future, whether it’s upon the arrival of your first child or due to a change in your family finances. Create a clear, open, and understanding line of communication so that you can discuss and alter the expectations you both have for your relationship based on the circumstances. If you’re comfortable discussing what you want and need openly, you’ll be able to adapt your expectations to fit your marriage as it progresses.