Communicating Marriage Expectations
Marriage is fun. I love being a devoted wife to my husband who is constantly encouraging me, supporting me, nudging me to continuously grow and learn, and cheering me on. (Not to mention putting up with my crazy antics and horrendous singing that only he gets to experience because I'm a textbook introvert.) I love that every evening feels like a school-night sleepover and that my morning routine includes my best friend by my side (even if I'm not quite ready to talk before my coffee).
And while marriage does involve a little work (hello, anything you do with another human being involves a little work - not everyone thinks, feels, and acts just like you!), continuously communicating your expectations will make it seem like almost all fun and very little work.
While I can't tell you exactly what expectations to communicate (that's something you need to think about for yourself and your marriage), I can help get your wheels turning on communicating marriage expectations.
Here are some ideas to consider communicating in your marriage:
Household duties. If an outsider were to see my husband I taking care of the household chores, they would probably be really confused by the convoluted ways we work together. But it works for us, and is a system we've managed to (almost) perfect over the years. Consider communicating who will be responsible for various household chores so you're not resenting your partner down the road for something they had no idea you wanted them to do.
Children. While you're probably already aware that it's extremely important to discuss whether or not you plan to have children (likely something you'll discuss before you say "I do!"), it's also important to communicate when you would like to grow your family, if kids are in the cards for you. Down the road, as you continue communicating your expectations, you'll also want to consider your children's education experience and how you'd like them to be raised.
Communication. It seems a little silly to communicate about communication, doesn't it? But believe me, it's not. You may want to discuss how you'll address conflicts, if it takes you more than one cup of coffee before you're willing to even say "Good morning", and even your personality traits with regard to communication. An introvert like myself will certainly not want to chit-chat as much or as often as an extrovert. Making sure your spouse understands these traits will help them understand when you need some quiet time or (for extroverts) when you need to chat away.
Spirituality. I highly recommend discussing religion and spirituality with your partner. This is a line of communication you'll likely want to keep open indefinitely as your relationship with spirituality grows and strengthens. Discuss how your spirituality will affect decisions throughout your life and how you plan to practice your beliefs.
Friendships. What better companion to discuss friendship with than your best friend? Consider discussing how often you'd like to spend time with friends away from your spouse. If you'd like to see your girlfriends every weekend, but your spouse's expectations are much different, you could be setting yourself up for conflict sooner than you think. You also may want to discuss what activities are within reason when you're out with friends.
Major purchases. Keep the lines of communication open when it comes to major purchases. This will ensure you're on the same page financially, but it will also help you negotiate and communicate with salespeople who are pushing you to purchase a higher end countertop for that new kitchen, or a fancier car you've already told your spouse was just not necessary for your household.
Continuously keeping the lines of communication open in your marriage is just one way to help set your marriage up for success. Be open to hearing your spouse's point of view, clearly communicate your expectations, and understand that you're on the same team! If you keep that in mind, your marriage will win every time.