Written by Kristin Barton Cuthriell, M.Ed., MSW, LCSW
Several years ago, I attended a marriage workshop along with my husband. This was not the first one that I had ever attended, nor will it be the last. These workshops not only provide me information and tools that help me better my own marriage, but they also benefit those who come to me for counseling.
This particular workshop focused on expectations within the marriage. To better illustrate how certain expectations can cause marital problems, we were shown a fictional video. Although fictional, it brought important points to light.
Picture this. Two individuals, newly engaged, filled with the promise of what marriage would bring. Oh, the expectations! It was all so exciting.
She had dreamed of her wedding day since she was a small child; the flowers, the dress, the big party, and the endless romance that would follow. From the moment he had put the ring on her finger, her happily ever after had come true. She knew that he was not much of a romantic, but that would change. She had let him know how important romance was to her, and he would make every effort to meet her expectations. She knew that he was a work in progress and that he would eventually change.
She fantasized about the white table-cloth, the bottle of champagne, and the tender way that he would look at her as he fed her strawberries. She dreamed of the rose petals that were sprinkled on their bed as he surprised her on their first anniversary.
Yes, her happily ever after had just begun.
He loved her, but had been reluctant to commit to marriage. Would she try to change him? Forever is a really long time. But eventually he decided that she was the one, and he was thrilled with his decision.
She was not alone in her fantasies. He envisioned Sundays with the guys watching the football game; she would enter the room with a smile on her face and offer cold drinks and chips. Before leaving the room, she would ask, “Is there anything else that I can get for you guys?” Yes, she could hang with the guys better than any girl he had ever met. This arrangement would turn out just perfect.
Yes, his happily ever after had just begun.
Fast Forward Two Years
Their two month old baby would not stop crying. The pediatrician had called it colic; they called it insanity. She had yet to see the rose petals sprinkled on the bed. Now the only thing sprinkled on the bed was the spit up from sweet crying Junior. Instead of serving refreshments to the guys, she was pushing the guys out of the house so that she could attempt to get crying Junior to rest.
There were bills to be paid, house repairs that needed tending to, diapers to change, and a life full of compromises. They found themselves asking, What has gone wrong with our marriage? Where has happily ever after gone?
This was the video that was shown to us at the workshop. Many parts were exaggerated, and it was really quite humorous; but the point was clear. The problem was not necessarily the marriage. The problem resided in the expectations. Once the couple learned to adjust their expectations and their view of happily ever after, they were able to really appreciate each other and support each other through the challenges of life.