My partner is the only person with whom I could have a happy marriage: Exploring Unrealistic Expectations (Part II)

It may be no surprise that seriously dating and engaged couples are more prone to “agree” or “strongly agree” with statements such as “We are as happy as any couple could possibly be!”

Almost intoxicated by love, engaged couples are often known for being infatuated with one another. They tend to be confident that they’ll never have problems or that existing problems will just fade away with time, they’ll never question their love, never experience a drop in romance, and already know everything there is to know about their partner. They truly are love struck.

The Problem with Unrealistic Expectations

While the phenomenon of being love struck is quite normal, it can also be a setup when experienced in extremes. There are several problems associated with unrealistic marriage expectations.

Moving too quickly: If I believe that nothing could cause me to question my love and I already know everything there is to know, why wait? Some couples move too quickly towards engagement and marriage, not allowing themselves time to really get to know one another.

Set up to take a fall: Ithas been said that the distance between one’s expectations and the reality experienced is equal to the hurt and disappointment one will feel. It is not a matter of “if” but “when” reality will set in for couples. Passionate romance always fades or at least changes to something less intense, and all couples face challenges and problems at some point in their marriage.

Failure to deal with relevant issues: Several of the items in this category reveal a tendency to deny and minimize issues. One item hints at the notion of time alone resolving issues. Another suggests difficulties experienced prior to marriage will somehow fade after the wedding. A third states it may be easier to change things I don’t like about my partner after marriage. The sum total of these items is avoidance and reluctance to deal with issues. Being proactive, however, is more effective than avoidance or waiting until small issues become major problems.

It may be the norm for engaged couples to be love-struck, embracing romanticised notions regarding love and marriage or perhaps it may just be that humans are designed to function at a physiological level. Don’t sound the alarms or be overly critical but understand that couples may need to be more realistic about what they should expect from their relationship.
Marriage Expectations is a challenging, yet fun area of discussion for premarital couples, however whilst these couples often have a lot to discuss as they prepare for marriage, healthy dialogue about expectations is critical. The key question for exploration for engaged couples is:

  • “My partner is the only person with whom I could have a happy marriage.”

by Peter Larson, Ph.D.

Tune in next week for part 3.

References: Olson, D. H. (2004). PREPARE/ENRICH Counselor’s Manual. Minneapolis: Life Innovations.
Slater, L. (2006). True Love. National Geographic. February, 32-49.

Source: Peter Larson, Ph.D. 
References: Olson, D. H. (2004). PREPARE/ENRICH Counselor’s Manual. Minneapolis: Life Innovations.
Slater, L. (2006). True Love. National Geographic. February, 32-49.

The Couple Checkup generates deep and productive conversations that couples would not otherwise have about their relationship. These conversations restore insight and understanding about one another. The Couple Checkup can help to revive a relationship and increase intimacy.

The Couple Checkup is an online couple assessment based on the PREPARE/ENRICH couple inventories. The Checkup assessment and Checkup report are designed to go directly to couples at any stage of their relationship (dating, engaged or married). The online system allows for dynamic customization of the assessment to each couple based on how the couple answers background questions. The goal is for the Couple Checkup to reach a more diverse group of couples, to empower couples to deal with issues on their own and to emphasise prevention over remediation.

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