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Growing up, it was one of my dreams to get married and have children one day. What I didn’t realize is marriage expectations vs reality was actually a thing. I was determined that I would have the “perfect marriage.” You know the ones you see on TV or in the movies. You know it’s the shit you watch that makes you want to get married in the first place.

The only problem was that it was not reality. Looking back now, I was just young and naïve. Almost all the marriages I saw in real life were either a train wreck or a train wreck waiting to happen. Then I looked at my grandparents. Was their marriage perfect? Probably not, but you could tell they loved each other.

Couple walking in the park together looking at a phone

A picture is not reality

In today’s world you guys have it much worse. Not only do you have the fantasy of what they put on the big screens, you also have social media. So, you see real people post all these pictures and videos together giving you the impressions of what a “perfect marriage” looks like. I promise you when the cameras are down and no one is watching that marriage is not perfect no marriage is. Marriage has many aspects and imperfections. That picture is a moment in time and one moment does not define the many moments going on behind the scenes.

When couples post on social media they have control over what they show and when they show it. That perfect couple you think you see has their own challenges and issue that they are working on off camera. Next time you are scrolling through your social media feed and come across that couple that has the perfect relationship. Ask yourself “what happens when no one is watching?”

Marriage Expectations VS Reality

A man and woman in the kitchen. The man grabbing the tea pot off the stove to poor the woman a cup of tea

Expectation: If you question anything in your marriage, you made the wrong decision. 

Reality: We live in a world where everything should be black or white. We are surrounded by a society that tells us that we need to leave if we’re not feeling butterflies 24/7. We are told that asking ourselves questions is BAD, and if we think about those things, we shouldn’t be married. Nothing could be more wrong.

When you get married, you’re learning how to live a whole new life. Learning how to adjust to an inevitable dynamic change in your relationship. When times get hard, it’s ok to feel annoyed, question, and feel feelings that you’re not “supposed” to feel. With change comes the classic “what ifs” experience. Don’t get sucked down that rabbit hole. It only makes you feel worse. Learn to be understanding and accepting of your partner. Because chances are they have the same worries you are

Expectation: If you don’t feel that *spark*, your relationship is dead.

Reality: If you’ve been in a long-term relationship and still feel a butterfly feeling every single time your significant other walks into the room, get goosebumps with every touch, and your reproductive organs are in constant longing for your partner, Let me in on your secret. The reality is, the spark goes away in most long-term relationships. What’s even worse is we actually think it means the relationship has or is failing.

What people call “the honeymoon phase” is just that. It is a short period of time when everything is new and exciting. Butterflies happen because there’s a sense of mystery between you and your partner. After all, in your eyes, they’re nothing but perfect and sexy and smooth-talking. After a while that perfection fades and its meant to. The honey phase helps the married life through the first few months. started. Long-term relationships and marriage are the opposite of mystery. A long-term relationship is secure and safe. So, if you are looking for the subsequent butterfly effect, don’t hold your breath.

When you’re in it for the long haul, it’s about learning how to let go of the need for “spark” and embracing the beauty of security, and knowing the ins and outs of the person you love. Forget the spark. Do they still happen from time to time? I have been with my husband for 20 years and every now and again, that spark happens. But our relationship does not depend on it. There’s something beautiful about being so comfortable, vulnerable, and intimate with another person.

A man and woman enjoying the sunset on the pourch

Expectation: If you’re not having sex at least (x) times a week, this is a red flag. 

Reality: The topic of sex and how many times a week you should be having sex is always up for debate. When couple first get together or married they are under this ridiculous impression that they need to be having a consistent hot and heavy time in the bedroom. Then if you’re not the whole relationship comes into question. Some married couples have their sex life down, but I can tell you that wasn’t achieved without effort.

There are so many aspects in a relationship that take work, and that includes intimacy. With busy schedules, stress, work, etc., all take a conscious effort to work around. Then when you throw having kids that expectation of how many times you should be having sex goes right out the window. Stop putting a number on how many times you think you’re “supposed” to be getting it on. You need to communicate to your partner your wants and needs. I say this a thousand times they can’t read your mind and you can’t read theirs. The only way to know is to communicate. Besides intimacy is more than just sex.

Expectation: Love is a feeling.

Reality: Love is a commitment. When you’re in a relationship you need to make a conscious decision to love even when you don’t feel like it. 

Expectation: Marriage, especially pre-kids, should be effortless if you’re with the right person.

Reality: The moment you commit to marry someone you are committing to a lifelong job. You need to know the reality is that it is not easy and it will be anything but effortless. It is so easy to make a relationship look effortless on the surface, but behind every successful marriage and relationship comes a whole lot of effort, questioning, learning, and growing. 

Growing Pains of Expectations VS Reality

Expectation: We always have to be on the same page at all times.

Reality: When I say be on the same page, I mean always being in agreement with each other. We are all human and have our own personalities, goals and life. When you choose to be in a long-term relationship you will not always agree about everything. The trick is to be able to compromise and except each other.  

Expectation: Learning how to live together is going to be very difficult.

Reality: You should have a pretty good idea about the type of person your partner is in the house, but you can’t prepare for everything. Buckle up buttercup because you just turned your one way street into a two-way street. Which means you are now sharing responsibilities. You will each have your own routine and quirks. This is the make it or break it moments everyone dreads.

When me and my husband moved in together it was a real eye opener for both of us. There some things I was definitely not ready for. Like the fact that he has to vacuum the floor 3 times in order for it to be clean. I am a one and done when it comes to vacuuming. He looked at me like I lost my mind.

It takes a lot of communication about expectations and responsibilities when you live together. However, if learn to accept and respect each other learning to live together can be pretty easy.

Expectation: We are going to be with each other 24/7.

Reality: This is a fear many people in a long-term relationship have especially after moving in together. The reason they have this fear is because well living together is a commitment within itself. Will you be together more? Yes, but that doesn’t mean that you are confined to each other. Having time away from each other is SUPER important. You still have to go to work and have your own life outside of your relationship. Spending time with friends or on your own goals away from your partner actually makes your relationship stronger.

Final Thoughts:

The “perfect marriage” or “perfect relationship” doesn’t exist. Take your expectations and throw them out the window. Because the reality train will come rolling in, I don’t want you to run over when it does. STOP comparing your relationship to what you see on social media or TV. If you’re going to have a loving, committed relationship, then start paying attention to it. It’s not a competition and your relationship goals should be for the long term. When you are in a healthy relationship, it is about being authentic and vulnerable with one another.

Challenge each other to talk about the hard stuff and how to handle situations in the future. Once you start doing that that is when you are building a relationship that is going to last long-term.

Once the Honey Moon phase if over go to check out What Makes A Relationship Last? & Why Arguing Is Healthy In A Relationship?

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