Why Isn’t My Marriage Like The Movies?

April 22nd, 2011

Before I got married I had a lot of friends tell me how wonderful marriage was and how it was simply the best thing ever. They seemed so happy and acted like their lives were just perfect ever since they had been married. This got me even more excited to get married to my husband so I could have that perfect relationship too.

A few months into my marriage, I realized marriage wasn’t exactly the chick-flick movie I had always expected it to be. My husband and I both had a hard time giving up on expectations we had going into the marriage. I expected my husband to be more romantic and surprise me with flowers and chocolates because he loved me so much. He, on the other hand, expected me to be better at keeping the house clean and to be more intimate more often.

I didn’t get it. All my friends said marriage was so wonderful and fun all the time. They seemed to be so happy and have so much fun. And if that wasn’t enough, all the movies seemed to portray marriage differently too. So what was wrong with us?

In a study of 82 newlyweds, researchers found that couples who were more realistic in their expectations were less likely to experience steep declines in marital satisfaction. Couples need to realize that everything isn’t going to be perfect all the time and by doing so can have a more successful relationship.

With our “unmet expectations,” my relationship with my husband started to be strained. We both started feeling upset that the other wasn’t living up to their part of the marital bargain. But after talking to each other about what we both wanted out of the relationship, we were able to come to an understanding of what would make our marriage work.

It is important to communicate with your partner about how you feel and what you expect out of the relationship. You can’t expect your partner to know what you are thinking at all times nor do you know what they are thinking (though you may like to think so).  Keeping the line of communication open is the key to strengthening your relationship. (We talked about the important role of listening here!)

If you are getting ready to be married, discuss your expectations with your partner. How will we share responsibilities? How will we manage finances? What are your attitudes about sex? When we have kids, will one of us stay home? And so on. Come to think of it, these would be good things for all newlywed couples to talk about.

There are some great questionnaires that couples—married or planning on getting married—can take to help them learn about each other’s expectations and talk over issues. I think the best one is called RELATE (https://www.relate-institute.org), and for the cost of a regular date you can take the survey online and get instant feedback. (Actually, Utah residents can take it for free by visiting the Stronger Marriage website here.) My husband and I took it recently and it has really helped us! I’ll discuss this more in an upcoming blog.

Don’t expect everything to be perfect right away. Realize there are a lot of “behind-the-scenes” discussions going on in the couples who seem to have it all. A happy marriage doesn’t come automatically. It takes understanding, work, and dedication. If we learn to adjust our expectations and accept our partner for who they are, we can have a deeper and satisfying love that endures through the realities of life.

For more information, take a look at the following articles:

Consider Expectations Before Marriage

Study on Newlyweds and Marital Expectations

High Hopes and Happy Homes