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by Tashica Jacobson

January first: It’s that time of year again. The start of a new year, the start of a new beginning. And with it comes reflection on the previous twelve months and resolutions for the next twelve. While these goals are good and prompt us to work towards the things we want, there is also something to be said about the unrealistic resolutions and expectations that we can set for ourselves and our families. The ones that we have thrown out the door by Valentine’s Day and leave us depressed the following year when we realize that once again we didn’t accomplish our weight loss, school performance, beauty, financial or family goals.

While there are many areas in which we can have unrealistic expectations, one that can have a dramatic negative effect is our expectation for our marriage. We come into marriage with an expectation of how it is supposed to be. We expect perfection; even demand it. Dating seemed 100% blissful, so why would marriage be anything else. But when things don’t line up perfectly with what we anticipated, we get discouraged and think something must be wrong: my spouse isn’t the person I thought he was, or I married the wrong person. These thoughts lead to couples distancing themselves from one another and family breakup.

One impractical view of marriage is believing it is built and maintained upon romance alone. That every day is going to be filled with rose petals and candle light dinners. During courtship many couples spend the majority of their time together getting dressed up and spending money to do something fun together. It is not possible to have those activities take up the majority of your time in a marriage. Real life with jobs, bills, sickness, and bad moods happens. There are more aspects to love than solely romance.   A couple needs to realize the marriage is also built upon friendship, trust, hard work, commitment, communication, shared values and so much more.

Another way couples are hurt by flawed expectations is by comparing marriages. Recently my friend shared a blog post about “lifestyle porn”. Lifestyle porn is when people lust after fake, glossed-up depictions of others’ lives shared on social media. If we buy into this idea that other’s marriages are constantly as picture-perfect as they appear, we start to question our own. We fall into the trap of comparing our day to day with their very best.

I was once told that picking a spouse is just picking a set of problems. And while you get so much more than problems when you get married, there is some truth to the statement. No matter who you marry there is always going to be a set of difficulties that come along with it. But when a couple is realistic about marriage goals they can move past these things.

This is not to say that we should never set any goals for our marriages. We should, but they should be realistic and something that we can work towards, realizing that marriage is a process. The way that I have viewed marriage, even before I met my husband, was picking the person that I wanted to progress with. Which means that there will be a setbacks and difficulties along the way. Setting a goal doesn’t automatically make it happen.

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