8 Expectations for a Great Marriage

holding hands


iMOM, our Family First program for mothers, recently posted these 8 expectations for a great marriage on iMOM.com. I like it so much that I want to share it with you. I’ve adapted it to apply to both husbands and wives.

In marriage, knowing what to expect is half the battle!  So, here are some things you should expect in marriage.  Now some of them may sound negative, but they aren’t meant to be.  We just need to be prepared that challenges will likely arise.  When they do, it doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world or your marriage.

1. Expect Conflict

Conflict will happen, and that’s okay if you handle conflict in a loving, mature way.

2. Expect Delays

Planning for your future is a great thing to do as a couple, just understand that things don’t always arrive on schedule – not babies, not raises, not health problems, not the sitter!

3. Expect Disappointments

File this in the, “you’re both only human” category. Your spouse will not be the answer to all of your problems.  Your spouse won’t be a mind reader or anticipate all of your needs.  Be prepared to forgive.

4. Expect to be annoyed

What was once appealing is now annoying. Be ready for that habit of his or hers you found so adorable while you were dating, to become annoying.  But remember this, there are things you’re doing that are likely annoying your spouse too. Cut them some slack and continually focus on their good qualities.  If you just can’t overlook what’s bothering you, talk about it in a loving, kind way.

5. Expect to think you’re doing more

You might feel like you’re doing more dishes, more laundry, more bedtime reading with the kids, more yard work, more taking the garbage out. You get the idea.   When you start feeling put out and put upon, take some time to assess the situation.  Then, instead of attacking your spouse and demanding more help, sit down and calmly express your desire to do your jobs well, and ask for help.  iMOM’s Home and Property Department worksheet can also help figure out who’s best at doing what.

6. Expect to disagree with some of your spouse’s decisions.

Just because you are “one” in marriage, doesn’t mean you will agree on everything.  And, guess what?  That’s okay.  Respect your spouse’s right to have a different opinion than you.  Don’t shoot down ideas automatically.  There is more than one way to get the job done.

7. Expect not to be attracted to your spouse

This may never happen to you.  You might go through your entire marriage with the hots for your mate.  But if, at some point, you’re just not that into your spouse, pray that you will have a loving heart.  Also, look beyond the physical or lack of chemistry and fall in love with what’s good about your spouse.

8. Expect to be with your spouse until the end.

This is a mental safety net.  Even when you’re furious or extremely disappointed with your spouse, you will not think of leaving. You can’t, remember?  You’re with your spouse until the end. This expectation also helps you realize that you might as well make your marriage as good as it can be because you are in it for the long haul.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • What a refreshing take, thank you for this honest and loving post!

  • My pleasure, Shanyn.

  • Sylvie D.

    In a quick fix society , it is good to hear this!
    (Married for 28 years)

  • Sylvie, congrats on 28!

  • Anne

    Horrible!! This is just way too negative for me. Why bother getting maried if you will have fights and not find your spouse attractive after a number of years. Mike, did you have a fight with your wife?

  • chefjenn

      You must be young and/or unmarried, if not then I feel you are just ignorant to simple truth.  A lot of people go through these feelings, they just don’t have the guts to discuss it and this generally leads into an unhappy marriage and divorce.  I understand what this article is saying and I have had these feelings.  I also understand that there are reasons for these feelings, they can be caused by depression, a big move, the empty nest syndrome, change in job, etc.  However, not getting married because it won’t always be a fairy tale marriage is an immature notion.  We can’t help our feelings and we certainly cannot predict them. We can, however, be open and honest about them.

  • Jodi

    Great. Realistic! I wish I had known this information 18 years ago when we first got married. We are still married, but I have a feeling the early years would have been less rocky. God has given me a wonderful husband. But to think for one minute that any relationship will not encounter trials is ignorant. Being prepared is far better than expecting calm waters for the duration of your marriage.

  • Stephanie

    ABSOLUTELY LOVE THIS…….very realistic and timely…………..thank you so much!!!!!!!!!!

  • Stefani

    chefjenn, thank you for an honest and loving response to the previous young lady. Many people just won’t get it until they’ve been in the situation. I think that’s how it is most of the time with marriage. Those of us who have been there can relate. Those who haven’t, have no idea. And it’s like Mike said, one might get lucky and not have these problems…..but that is HIGHLY unlikely, but it doesn’t mean the marriage is therefore unfulfilling and not worth it. I find the opposite to be true. Getting through the problems just makes your love even stronger. Who wants a superficial love that has never faced issues? No one would know if it would prove the test of time, temptations, & struggles or not. I do. And what a blessing it is to know. Thank you again. Loved your response. Well said.

  • Madison Fulcher

    I super like # 8.  Many couples feel they have a back up plan to “opt out.”  It is easier to call it quits and blame the other person than it is work on yourself and your marriage. You become what you think.  If every time you get into a fight and think: Maybe we should just get a divorce then you are already setting yourself up for one in the future! Train your brain to stay away from “opting out.” (unless of course you or your children are in a dangerous situation)

  • Cheneydozen

    One of the reasons the 50th wedding anniversary is known as the Golden anniversary is because 50 years together will bring much refining… and the most precious of gold and silver has been refined until it is pure! This refining often comes through trials and tribulations that we work through together.

    The trials may be his or hers or theirs… or even trials of their children … but they are to be borne together. Whether it is the illness of a spouse or child, any type of loss (job, family member, family pet, home, etc), or even a big gain like a new job in a new city, buying a new home, etc, all of these things will test the strength of our committment to our marriages. We are supposed to rely on one another through thick and thin, and when we do, the bond that is forged between husband and wife is bright, beautiful, and strong!

    When we think of strength, perhaps the picture of a man with mighty muscles comes to our mind…. do we think that he just got that way because he ate his Cheerios in the morning? Certainly, some of us do… but those with the proper perspective wrought through experience understand that those muscles were produced through much hard work and even pain, much repetition of the same actions meant to produce that strength. We can call that adversity, and we know that life is full of adversity! we just have to choose to see things as what they are truly meant to be in our lives… and allow ourselves and our marriages and families to become stronger through that adversity.

    JC, mom of 13, wife of an amazing man!!!

  • Larry

    By definition, “Expect” implies confidently believing, usually for good reasons, that an event will occur.

    So although I agree with and appreciate the overal premise (and intent?) of this article, personally I would never suggest to someone that they “expect” all these negative things into their lives.  I think it is more appropriate to have a realistic awareness that these things definitely can occur and you can’t go into a relationship with your head buried in the sand.  But to “confidently believe” that I may some day not be attracted to my spouse, or that she will disappoint me just doesn’t seem how we should approach life in general.  God’s track record (which is absolute perfection) does not support an outlook of expecting the worst in our lives.

  • Dana

    I love this post. The most “real” advice I’ve ever read on marriage! After all of these I would add, “Expect to be Blessed Beyond Belief if you remain committed through all of the above expectations!” 

  • Kimhpoole

    Dear Mark,
    Please keep this post in your archives for future reference.  Everyone should give it (frame it) for their kids when they get engaged.  We have a book/movie about “What to expect when you’re Expecting, but how about the previous step of marriage..now we have it..”What to expect for a great Marriage.”
     It might be a little negative, but the truth hurts sometimes.  Life is not a bowl of cherries 24/7 and I think our society has told us that we should “expect” happiness at all times or something is wrong.  The most important one is Number 8, in this disposable/”divorsable” society we live in.  If something is broken we are taught to throw it away; how about hunkering down and learning to fix it. Obviously this does not apply across the board.

  • Angela Henry

    A marriage is what you put into it and what are your expectations.  Put God first in all that you do and He will direct your path.  Marriage is truly a wonderful part of this life’s journey,you have someone to share your hopes, expectations, and dreams with.  It is not going to be  sunshine without a little rain because adversity will come but do not linger, deal with it and move on to live to fight another day.  Most times adversity should make you a little stronger and strengthen your endurance and the will to standsteadfast.   In a marriage or any type of relationship you have to communicate with each other and that can make or break your marriage.  There are possibilities there will be some disappoinments, conflicts and etc. but remember it’s how you approach those circumstances and deal with them at that time.  Keeping a positive attitude through adversities makes life a little easie.  Be in love and love another can be the greatest experience of a lifetime.  One of God’s greatest gift that He have given to us.  And remember this too shall pass.  Love is wonderful!

  • GymB

    After 44 years, I can say that the 8 expectations are all very true. You could probably easilly add 20 more to it, but when you start to feel disappointment with your spouse and you have a sense of wander lust, STOP and look straight into their eyes. Think abouot when you first looked at those eyes and how you felt. As the old saying “kinda” goes, “The eyes have it.” Their eyes, as well as yours, change the least of all of other physical attributes. If both of you, when talking to each other, would concentrate on the eyes, you’ll feel more warmth and joy or forgiveness as time passes.

  • Pingback: List of Things that Can Cause Marriage Failure - MJ Celebrity Magazine - MJ Celebrity Magazine()

  • Lovemyself

    I like the 8 expectations.. but the last one #8 – Expect to be with your spouse until the end.. It takes two – one person cannot be in the marriage alone. I cannot expect to be in a loveless, non affectionate, non-spiritual, marriage. I am working on me and as I do, I feel myself growing further and further away from my husband. I have tried talking to him about my feelings – he can’t handle that and don’t want to hear it. I suggested counseling, he don’t think anything is wrong with him. I tried talking to him about our marriage..he says nothing has changed and a LOT has changed.

  • tina

    Are you married, it’s not horrible it’s real, and for some people you do hit a point where the attraction goes, it’s up to each other to get that back, people now a days run from anything hard, of the marriage isn’t perfect they divorce, this is wrong

  • Patty

    I just feel used by my husband. Financially.

  • Frankly Over It

    i hear the pain in those eight words. About 8 yrs ago we fell into debt (without adequate explanation) by 250,000 dollars, having to remortgage the house. My husband defended the loss of money and blamed me for taking four years maternity leave. Last year he threatened to separate if we didn’t get a dog. Now we have a dog and he takes little interest in it-won’t feed or walk. If my teenage son is rude to me he defends my son saying I deserve to be treated without respect because I am grumpy and rude all the time. I have to beg him to discipline our 13 yo boy and just recently had to draw up a charter for behaviour as my husband was not doing anything about my sons language in the house. Last year he threw a pack of cards at me from behind, bruising my arm. He then disappeared for a week and refused to tell us his whereabouts. When he came home he neither explained where he was or apologized for the action. After preparing an entire Christmas dinner and function for over 40 people with no help from him whatsoever he carried on and refused to help me in the last half hour before guests arrived. If I complain I am labelled a martyr, bitter and twisted, a liar, psychotic or that I am unable to cope with life. I work hard in education, feel I’m raising two great kids with minimal support or assistance around the house. Am I in an abusive relationship?

  • Mildred Wright

    Definitely abusive. Sorry to say so. Do not become bitter. Adjust your expectations for your husband’s behavior, so as you are not continually doubting yourself: God has sufficient GRACE for you. Seek GOD for His wisdom: Get personal-individual Christian biblical-sound, unbiased, female-female counseling. Perhaps a local “CELEBRATE RECOVERY Program” (Google info online; it is free.) This too shall pass. Trust GOD to redeem all the abuse that you have been suffering, for His good and then be available to comfort others with the comfort that God gives to you. Beware of becoming Co-dependent upon others (male or female) and creating unhealthy soul-ties. Give yourself permission to BE HURT, ANGRY, DETACHED. Yet remember, FORGIVENESS is KING. God is able to heal your wounded-ness & recreate within you a Pure heart.
    Thriving, PTL!
    mmw54 (still married 42+ years)
    Philippians 4: 4-8
    In time read: Andrew Murray’s Humility and Absolute Surrender

  • BoBauna

    If you haven’t already, tell him to GTFO or do so yourself. Just GET OUT. He is a narcissistic A*hole and will only continue to destroy you.
    I finally had the backbone to end my 21 year marriage to my narcissist husband. What a dramatic relief!! Do yourself (and your son) and just about everybody a favor and terminate the relationship. NOW!