Relationship Expectations: Non-Negotiables and When to Compromise
A healthy relationship has realistic relationship expectations. However, if the relationship expectations are unrealistic, unmet, or not communicated, trouble will arise. Knowing what to expect in a relationship before you get married or making expectations clear after you tie the knot can keep your marriage on the right path even when faced with challenges.
Making your relationship expectations clear.Relationship expectations should be clear from the start. But if you are unsure how to approach your spouse about your needs or are worried about their reaction, you may want to seek therapy. Premarital and couples counseling gives you tools to discuss what each partner needs and what they will and will not tolerate, and resolve conflicts.
Often, people get into relationships with unclear expectations that are often influenced by their past and/or families of origin. For example, if you experienced betrayal in a past relationship, you may have developed trust issues. This can lead you to not trusting your new partner and being clingy, especially if the boundaries around what is okay and what is not okay are not established.
On the other hand, if you came from a wonderful and loving family and married someone from a broken home full of yelling and abuse, you may be surprised by how your spouse reacts in your marriage and need to talk about what communication is acceptable in your new family
Counseling can allow you and your partner to share concerns and learn ways to solve issues.
Realistic expectations in a relationship.
Most couples seek the same goals in a relationship. The relationship will suffer when someone operates outside these goals, even if it is out of fear or insecurity.
Depending on past relationships, the relationships of friends and family, and personal beliefs, expectations can differ between people, and what is valuable to you in a relationship may be less so with your partner. Getting clear on expectations early sets the boundaries for the relationship. The following are several examples of realistic expectations in a relationship.
A healthy relationship shares similar values such as love, kindness, honesty, trust, and affection. When our actions are value-based, it becomes difficult to focus solely on ourselves. Instead, we try to live according to our values and love and honor our partner. Then you can also expect to be loved in return, treated kindly and fairly, told the truth even when it hurts, and have someone physically show their love.
Shared respect.Respect helps us build trust with others. It allows us to be ourselves and be accepted. When you respect your spouse, you are showing that although you are different people, you both bring something valuable to the relationship. When someone respects you, they also speak highly of you and defend you to others.
Commitment to the relationship.
It may not be exclusive when you start dating someone and go on first and second dates. Eventually, however, if the two of you feel confident in the relationship, you want to commit to one another.
Commitment means working together to strengthen and grow the relationship. It means staying committed to one person through challenging moments. The dedication and covenant in marriage reflect God’s covenant with us. It is a binding agreement to have faith and push through even when you do not feel like it.
Willingness to compromise when appropriate.
There are situations when you and your partner must compromise to reach an agreement. You might compromise over whose turn it is to do the dishes or pick the kids up from school. It might mean compromising over finances, creating both savings and “fun” accounts at the bank.
Sometimes we get out of sorts over small things that escalate into enormous fights. Do not allow one burned dinner or load of dirty laundry to ruin your relationship. Instead, find a way to compromise and work around it.
Pleasing sexual relationship.
Sex is a natural act created by God for the pleasure and procreation of a married couple. Being a willing participant and wanting to have sex with your spouse is a realistic expectation.
Sex helps to grow intimacy, not only physical but emotional intimacy. It is an act shared only by the married couple. This is why extramarital affairs are so damaging. Adultery wounds both people emotionally and, in some cases, physically with sexually transmitted diseases.
Friendship beyond sex.Sex is important in marriage, and it has its place, but if you and your spouse do not share a genuine friendship, the closeness in the union will dissolve. Love, friendship, and companionship are the types of things that continue to hold a marriage together over the years. Being a true friend strengthens the foundation. You work together to solve problems and truly enjoy each other’s company.
Unrealistic relationship expectations.
Unrealistic expectations will derail your relationship. These expectations leave one partner feeling left out, unloved, or used. These behaviors can also be considered red flags.
If you are dating someone who does the following actions, you need to make your expectations clear. If you are engaging in these behaviors, consider therapy to get to the root of why you feel the need to make demands on your loved one before it ruins your current relationship.
Asking you not to speak with those of the opposite sex.
Insecurity and fear can drive people to exhibit possessive behaviors. It is an unrealistic expectation if your partner gets angry and demands that you not speak to or unfriend people of the opposite sex.
Your significant other may be jealous and worried about losing you to another man or woman. It is also a controlling behavior. A healthy relationship allows you to communicate with both sexes without worrying about destroying the relationship.
Just as being friends and companions outside of a sexual relationship is essential, willingly engaging in sex when appropriate is also important. However, it is unrealistic to want to have sex or engage in sex all the time. It is emotionally damaging when one person demands sex constantly and becomes angry or spiteful when the other person does not want to engage. On the other hand, it is also not appropriate for one partner to withhold sex as a punishment.
Physical exhaustion, overlapping schedules, and family responsibilities sometimes interfere with your physical intimacy. Punishing your significant other by withdrawing from them or having an affair will complicate things further.
Although you love your significant other, you cannot spend 24/7 with them. Both of you must work, run errands, and do other things. Taking time out to be alone is healthy. It recharges your soul and mind. However, when someone insists that you drop everything to be with them, or you cannot understand why your loved one refuses to stop what they are doing to be with you, the unrealistic expectation will cause problems.
A spouse should be by your side in the case of crisis, but if you want them around so you are not lonely, then ask yourself why you are struggling with loneliness. A counselor can help you identify where the emotion stems from and help you overcome it.
Non-negotiables: physical and emotional abuse.
There are certain non-negotiable behaviors that you cannot overlook. You must seek help right away as they can lead to deadly situations. You should never tolerate physical or emotional abuse. Physical abuse will escalate. Emotional and verbal abuse leave unseen scars. If you have been in an abusive relationship in the past, you know that it takes time to recover and heal from the wounds.
Contact a counselor today if you are in an abusive relationship or having trouble moving forward due to past trauma. You deserve to have a love that meets healthy expectations.
When expectations are off-kilter.
Problems will arise if your significant other and you have unrealistic expectations for the relationship. To keep those problems from turning into non-negotiable behaviors or result in a breakup, reach out to a counselor today for help. Couples counseling provides opportunities for discussion in a safe environment. Start by investing time and being clear about your expectations in a relationship.
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