I was 21 when I stood in front of my husband and took a vow to love him for better or worse, until death do us part. We stood there hand-in-hand, naively believing that all we needed was love. Of course, life has taken us for a ride and that ride came with a lesson.
What did we learn? That we were clueless. In hindsight, I didn’t have the slightest clue as to what marriage required or how it would be capable of bringing me to my knees. I didn’t understand that the expectations I had adapted from the world around me would set me up for failure. I don’t think we realize how often we go into relationships looking for them to be self-serving—only seeing what we want, not what we need to give.
I don’t think we realize how often we go into relationships looking for them to be self-serving—only seeing what we want, not what we need to give.
When entering into marriage, it is tradition for the bride and groom to exchange vows to signify a promise to endure all of the unknowns life has in store for them. If you’ve ever been to a wedding, then you can testify to the beauty in them—beauty, which can also be attributed to the stipulations left out of said vows. No one focuses on “for better or worse” or “in sickness and in health.”
Often, we find ourselves entering into relationships looking to have our demands met. The minute the other party is unable to meet them, the show is over. Expectations have made us this way—expectations of perfection, the expectation that things are supposed to be easy and false expectations that our families and society have projected onto us.
I wasn’t prepared for how much marriage would change me. In order to be successful in my marriage, I had to forget everything I thought marriage was. The more I learned, the more I questioned if it was something I was strong enough to see through.
My husband and I both struggled. Without mentors or anyone remotely close to us to share what marriage entails, we learned as we went along. Many times we found ourselves at what we imagined to be the end, only to find it was a learning curve in disguise. Coming to terms with my unmet expectations of marriage was probably the hardest lesson I’ve learned in my life thus far.
Coming to terms with my unmet expectations of marriage was probably the hardest lesson I’ve learned in my life thus far.
It also taught me that the seeds we sow are of great importance. I practice transparent parenting. I believe that I’d be doing my daughters a disservice if I sheltered them too much. I won’t allow my daughters to grow up believing that my husband and I are robots—that the only emotion we embody is one of happiness. I don’t want them to grow up believing that we aren’t allowed to have our own perspectives or to disagree.
I refuse to allow them to grow up with the same false narrative that I was allowed to believe. Yes, we are their parents, but we are human first. I don’t want them to grow up and find themselves in and out of relationships like a revolving door because they have the expectation of a perfect relationship like their parents once did.
We have an open door policy in my home, and we all speak freely about everything. It’s important to me that my daughters understand that a relationship is give and take. Giving also means being empathetic enough to understand that some days that person will be unable to meet you where you are. It doesn’t make them a bad partner or person. I think it’s important that we erase the shame that is often tied to loving an imperfect person.
Marriage is many things. It is love, forgiveness, understanding, but most of all it is a partnership that is always evolving.
What were your expectations of marriage or other relationships? How have unmet expectations affected you?
Image via Raisa Zwart Photography