Breathe Life into Your Marriage

6 Actions to Getting Your Marriage Back on Track and Your Expectations Met

  •  How often do you feel angry, frustrated, or resentful when your husband doesn’t meet your expectations
  • Would you like to be more satisfied in your marriage?
  • Want to breathe life into your marriage and actually get more of your expectations met?

Starting at a very young age, we’ve all likely experienced discouragement from not getting our way. I still remember as a child throwing a temper tantrum at the grocery store—clinging to the coveted toy that already felt like mine, only to have my mother pry it out of my hands in the checkout line. I don’t know about you, but I thought it would get easier as I got older, yet I still feel the pain of disappointment from not getting what I want. In my marriage, I find it even more painful when my expectations go unmet. It seems easier to suppress my desires and not acknowledge what I want, rather than feel the disappointment of them going unmet. I think many of us feel this way. However, this self-protective stance leads to deadness and can choke the life out of our marriages.

Unmet expectations have claimed to be the number one reason couples get divorced. Disrespect is another cause of failing marriages. And, what is disrespect really, but another symptom of unmet expectations? Unexpressed expectations are set-ups for disappointment and resentment. Overtime, if expectations are not expressed and examined, they can kill a relationship.

Chances are, if you’ve been married for longer than six months, you understand the disappointment, frustration, and sometimes despair that can come with unmet expectations. But, what if I told you it doesn’t have to be this way— that you can actually get more of your expectations met? What if I told you that you could take your resentments and disappointments and use them as catalysts to enhance your marriage?

You can actually learn ways to foster your healthy expectations into positive results and breathe new life and excitement into your marriage. It is what you choose to do with your expectations that really matter.

Here is a true story about a woman like you and me and how she used six actions to achieve her favorable expectations while strengthening her marriage.

This is a story about a mom (I will call her Ann), her marriage, and her unmet expectations. Ann attended a moms group that I led. Her powerful and transformative story is one that illustrates how intentional behavior can help us achieve our own desires.

Ann was disillusioned and unhappy in her marriage. One day during a group session, Ann shared the dread for her fast approaching birthday. When I asked why, she expressed the hurt, anger and disappointment from her husband’s neglect to ever celebrate her day. He rarely bought her a gift, didn’t take her to dinner, or make the day special. She patiently hoped that each year would be different, but it never changed. It became clear to me that her birthday distress was a small piece of the bigger picture. Toxins of built up anger and resentment were spreading poison throughout her marriage and simply symptoms of her unmet expectations.

On a side note, clearly her husband was clueless to her feelings and probably frustrated with the marriage himself. How could he not be? His wife was continually discontent, angry, and complaining. The easy thing to do here would be to blame her husband for being so clueless, but blame will never get us what we want.

Instead of blaming him, here is what she decided to do:

She became intentional to achieving her expectations by focusing on the factors she could actually control. She created a vision of what would bring joy and satisfaction on her birthday. She then took what she learned and applied it to all areas of her life.

Here is what she did that you can do too…

She chose to stop being a victim.

When Ann joined the group, she complained a lot—whined really. It became painful to listen to her week after week. She was committed to being a victim. A victim is someone that focuses on their problems rather than acknowledging their desires and going after them. Instead, they complain and punish others for not meeting their expectations and look for reassurance that they’ve been wronged. This mindset kept her stuck. Week after week the other moms challenged her to do something different, but she couldn’t see herself as the roadblock. (Lest we judge her too harshly, we all can have a tendency to blame others for something we can change ourselves.)

However, one particular week when she mentioned her birthday, something clicked. She had an epiphany. She became so tired of the unhappiness that she was ready to take action.

She did something different.

Clearly, waiting for a different outcome, year after year, wasn’t working for her. With the encouragement of the group, she wrote down what a great birthday would look like for her. She decided she wanted a dinner out, cards from her husband and children, and celebrating with friends during the day. She even wanted to visit her favorite store with her children so they could pick out a gift for her.

She was intentional to create what she wanted for herself.

She stopped expecting her husband to fulfill her wants. She realized that she was responsible for creating the desired outcomes. When the group asked her how she would assure the perfect birthday, she confirmed her need to be intentional. Expecting her husband to make the dinner reservations was a setup for failure, so she took it upon herself to make them. She called her friends and invited them to lunch—requesting each to bring something to share. And well in advance, she advised her husband and kids of the special birthday plans.

She created a different outcome.

She was committed to making her birthday a happy and successful day. The next group session, Ann came in with a big smile on her face. She had the best birthday she could remember in years, “What a difference it made to go after what I wanted!” Much to her surprise, her husband was happy to comply and please her. After years of frustration from continually disappointing her, he had given up trying. You can only imagine how relieved he was to finally know what she expected. And, her children enjoyed a happier mom that truly brought smiles to the whole family.

resentful and angry at husbandShe learned to express her expectations and negotiate.

Some of our expectations are realistic and some of them aren’t. Even our realistic expectations can go unmet. And some things we want our husband’s to do, they just aren’t going to do. Of course, the same is true for our spouse’s expectations. However, sharing your expectations with your spouse, rather than keeping them bottled up, will have better results than assuming he can read your mind. Remember, he has to live with you when you are crabby and that isn’t any fun!

She brought what she learned into all areas of her life.

Ann’s birthday was a game changer for how she lived her life. Moving forward, she was committed to being conscious of not falling into victimhood. Rather, she would become responsible for creating what she wanted and sharing her expectations with her husband. And if her husband, for whatever reason, didn’t go along with her expectation, she could make adjustments. Basically, she learned to take care of herself. As a result, her marriage grew stronger. He found her more enjoyable and fun to be around and ultimately, wanted to please her.

How can you take Ann’s story and apply it to your own life and marriage? What are a few ways that you can be intentional and create greater satisfaction in your life? How can you invite your spouse to join you? What is one baby step you can take today?

On a final note: Be patient in the process. It takes a little time to figure out how to communicate and negotiate your expectations in ways that will make your marriage stronger. Don’t give up. Keep talking, not nagging. Share with each other what makes you feel loved. Sharing your desires will improve your communication and ultimately strengthen your marriage. And lastly, take steps to create greater satisfaction in your life, rather than expecting him to make it happen for you. Embrace marriage as a continuous learning process to become all you can be for yourself and as a couple!

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