While attending a bridal shower several of the women present were asked, by the soon-to-be bride, if things are really that different once you get married. Several women said yes; that things definitely change. I was then asked what I thought after my husband and I got married. I told
everyone that my belief was not that our behaviors changed drastically rather it was our expectations. I was met with thunderous applauds (no, not really, but perhaps I should have been). I absolutely believe that our expectations when we’re dating and our expectations following marriage are, 9 times out of 10, absolutely different. What one expects from his or her future husband or wife is not always what we expected from boyfriends or girlfriends. There is sometimes this belief that now that we have chosen to take this big step called marriage that there is more of a commitment and thus more understanding of what we want for our futures together.
The problem with that ideal is just that. It’s the ideal belief. Not necessarily the realistic belief. When we enter into a relationship, and even long after we have been in a committed relationship, we sometimes house what I like to call unspoken expectations. These are expectations each partner develops in their minds but do not voice to one another. There is an assumption that things will fall into place over time. That doesn’t always happen. And because the two of you did not sit down before the marriage to discuss what you expect, it’s now a bigger issue. Whether or not you’re going to have children, how each of you will contribute to the marriage, and much more can become a strain on the marriage if there were no answers to begin with.
So, what can you do to minimize this miscommunication or lack of communication?
First- consider premarital counseling. This is a time for both you and your spouse to sit down and discuss your views on marriage as well as your expectations. But these sessions, just like if you decide to have a makeshift one at home, call for honesty. You cannot give the answer you think your spouse, or counselor, wants to hear; otherwise you are cheating yourself out of fully knowing your future husband or wife. At some point you have to stop saying you will cross that bridge when you get there, or else you’ll find yourselves in the middle of the bridge still not having found a solution.
Second- abandon your personal, unspoken expectations. Scratch them out. Keeping your expectations to yourself is not going to help you and your spouse see eye-to-eye. Your soon to be husband or wife cannot read your mind, and therefore cannot always give you what you want or what you expect.
Third- talk. For goodness sake talk. If you cannot talk to your future husband or wife about what you expect from this marriage then you need not get married. This is a person you are supposed to be able to confide in and to trust. If you don’t value your opinion then why would your spouse.
Fourth- be honest. This is nothing new. Any talk show or family and friend that you have listened to have said that within a relationship there needs to be honesty. If you can’t be honest with your spouse, and express what is on your mind, then you cannot expect things to change for the better. What you’ll end up with is one spouse going about life and getting what they want while the other spouse is feeling unsatisfied with the direction of the marriage.
And lastly- be thoughtful when you speak. When we become fed up with our spouse, or dissatisfied with our relationships, it is very easy to abandon our concern for their feelings. If there is something going on within the relationship that may be a problem for you after you’re married let your future spouse know before you feel your top getting ready to blow. When you approach your spouse the point is to frame what you say in the form of an “I statement” so that it highlights how “we” can be better for this relationship. There is a big difference in the response you get using “we” versus “you”.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Latanya Muhammad is an educator, group facilitator, and 100% a wife and mom. If you would like to read more of her posts visit www.shetanagain.com. And if you want to weigh in on the action? Feel free to direct all feedback and inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org. See ya'!