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You can find yourself in unnecessary conflict after you get married. For example, have you ever been in trouble with your spouse and not sure what you did wrong?
Confused right? This happens a lot, especially to guys.
“How can you expect me to know what you want when you don’t tell me in the ﬁrst place? I’m not a mindreader!
Or suppose you end a long work week and look forward to a romantic evening with your new husband. So you leave work early to prepare a surprise candlelight dinner . However, he’s looking forward to hang with the guys, something he’s done every Friday night for the past few years. He arrives home, greeted by a passionate kiss and led to the candlelit dining room. The look on his face is not what you expected.
He’s frustrated. “You know it’s my night out with the guys!”
You’re crushed. “I thought Friday night would be our date night.”
They were operating oﬀ assumptions.
They did not discuss expectations.
One of the early pitfalls of marriage is starting oﬀ with a set of expectations you assume your partner shares.
To avoid this let’s look at 5 things to talk about before you get married.
#1: Talk about what you envision for your life
You may not be able to sketch every detail of your life from now until you die, but what about the larger brush strokes? What do you envision for yourself?
Reﬂect on two levels.
◉ As an independent adult
◉ As an interdependent spouse
Who do you want to become? What do you want to achieve in life? These questions address your expectations as an independent adult.
How does my personal ambition mesh with being married? What do I want a spouse to understand about me? These questions address your expectations as an interdependent spouse.
Once you are clear with yourself on what you envision, share this with your fiancé.
#2: Talk about what you want out of marriage
Be clear with yourself ﬁrst what you want out of marriage. You’d be surprised how many people don’t take the time to reﬂect on this.
Most of us have a collection of expectations stored in memory by simple observation. We watch our parents, relatives, neighbors, friends, and movies about marriage. From this collection of images we form opinions about what we want and don’t want out of marriage.
Talk with your fiancé about what you don’t want out of marriage. Clarify for him or her what you do want.
#3: Clarify your expectations about roles and responsibilities in marriage
Once you envision what you want for your life and are clear what you want out of marriage it is time to clarify with your partner your expectations about roles and responsibilities.
This is a series of conversations that begins when you ﬁnd someone you hope to marry. When the relationship enters a monogamy stage it’s time to open up with each other about what you want. These conversations will explore the degree of compatibility in your relationship, to determine if you are a good ﬁt.
Moving into engagement it is important you talk about roles and responsibilities you will encounter in marriage. Here the goal is to collaborate and negotiate expectations that are mutually beneﬁcial.
#4: Communicate your values about money and how you manage it
Money is the number one thing couples argue over. One of the major reasons why this happens is because couples do not discuss values and approaches to managing money.
Before you become engaged have conversations about money. Why? Because you don’t want to be surprised by concealed debt or poor money management that will cause problems at the onset of marriage.
Be honest with each other about how you manage your ﬁnances. If you’re good at it, great! If not, open up about your struggles and discuss strategies that can be taken to learn how to manage money. The goal here is to tackle problems ahead of time.
#5: Discuss intimacy needs and expectations
Intimacy is a subjective term. Deﬁning what it means and how you experience it is a personal matter. Understanding what it means to your partner is equally important.
Conversations that help you both deﬁne intimacy and express your expectations and needs is ongoing throughout the life of your relationship.
The goal is to be mindful of what each of you need to experience intimacy. This will help you achieve mutual intimacy on a regular basis.
As needs change so do expectations
While you may plan your life to go a certain way, life has twists and turns. The unexpected happens. Also, as you grow older your needs change.
Circumstances change, so do needs. Plan to have conversations about expectations the rest of your married life.
Smart couples prepare for change by having ongoing conversations about expectations and needs. Doing this will help you ﬁnd answers to the question, “What do you need from me?”