Marriage Expectations

What are Marriage expectations?

It’s when you expect your spouse to be, think, or behave a certain way.

Or, when you expect your relationship to be a certain way.

It can look like this:

  • My partner’s interest in sex will be the same as mine.
  • My spouse is partially responsible for my happiness.
  • Its better to keep silent about something that is bothering me than to cause unnecessary problems in our relationship.
  • Things will get better if we _______ (pay off debt, have a baby, get through these next few months).

Watch this helpful video on what to do with Marriage Expectations:

Facts about expectations:

  • You will be happy or disappointed based on how your expectations match up to the reality of your marriage.
  • All married couples start out hoping for the best and expecting that their spouse will feel the same way about certain things as they do.
  • Problems arise when these expectations are not met.
  • Every disappointment involves an unmet expectation.

Our story:

We had a rough start to our marriage with our own set of expectations –

I (Katy) had this idea that, once we got married, we would have this happy little Christian family where Andy would be the spiritual leader in our home.  Problem was, I never brought this up to Andy, yet I expected him to take us to church, pray at dinner, etc.

At the time, Andy was not an active Christian and not on board with my plans.  I would (helpfully!) nag him, and he would get annoyed.  It became a serious tension point between us – I became self-righteous and disappointed, while Andy was blindsided by my expectations and had no idea what to do about it.

It was only when I felt God saying to me “Katy, get out of my way.” that I realized I should be focusing on my own relationship with God and not Andy’s. Slowly, I began to release Andy from my expectations and as I gave my selfish ambitions up to God, He filled my bucket with exactly what I needed.  Eventually I had absolutely no expectations for Andy to be, do, or act any way.

And shortly after that, Andy started his own journey towards God that has blossomed into his own incredible legacy.  Today, Andy is a powerful man of God and I am thankful every day that I got out of God’s way!

Andy here! My expectations on Katy were a bit simpler; all I needed was someone to do my laundry, cook, and clean!  No, really – my mom did all of those things around our home while growing up, and as soon as Katy moved in I expected her to step right in. Problem was, I never asked her to do them; I expected her to.  We never talked about chores…but they had to be done, right?  They can easily become a tension point in a relationship!

Big or small, an expectation is unfair to the other person, and what Katy and I want to encourage you to do is COMMUNICATE your needs to one another and then replace “expectations” with “requests” and move from “duty” to “serving one another in love.”

We all have needs and expectations – what do we do with them?

  1. First step – acknowledge your own set of marriage expectations.
  2. Second step – release your spouse, and yourself, from ALL expectations.
  3. Third step – apologize to your spouse. Explain that you love and appreciate them for who they are, not who you wish them to be.
  4. Giving to meet their needs.

If you’re both giving to meet the other’s needs, your needs will be met.

Talk about this as a couple.

Use the Sunday Night Meeting Agenda and the Marriage Expectations Worksheet as a guide (two free downloadable marriage tools; click here to subscribe to our private email list to receive them).

We hope this post inspires you to continue creating a marriage where giving to each other (not receiving!) is the goal every day.

But wait…what if your needs aren’t being met?

We know that expectations come from needs that need to be met; some of them your spouse is naturally the perfect person for the job.

So what do you do when your spouse is unwilling to have a conversation about marriage expectations, or doesn’t seem to care about the needs that you have?

Or you may even feel like you’re the only one working to make things better, or that your spouse isn’t pulling their weight.  That can be frustrating, we know from personal experience.

When you’ve got challenges in your marriage, the first thing you can do is pray about it.

1 Peter 5:7 says “Cast all your cares on him, because he cares for you.”

When you release your spouse from expectations, just cast them right on God.  Bring your needs to him.  He has a plan for your life, and it is good.  Casting your cares to him allows him to work freely in your life.

God may have a different timeline and plan than you imagine, but he will come through.

Do you have a question?  Comment?  Idea for our live Real Marriage show?

Comment below or send us a private email, we’d love to hear from you:




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Wife and mom at the Gillis family home. Chief Encouragement Officer / Co-founder of Real Marriage.

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