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Setting reasonable expectations in your marriage

Last week, we posted about hopelessness as a predictor of divorce. We discussed how hopeless feelings sometimes stem from unrealistic expectations in a marriage.

This article seeks to prevent such feelings, by outlining ways to set—and adjust—expectations in your partnership. When both members of a partnership understand what to reasonably expect of the other—and are committed to fulfilling the other’s expectations—the relationship is on firmer ground from the start.

Pre- or postnuptial agreements

Whether you’re preparing for your wedding or have been married for years, creating a pre- or postnuptial agreement can benefit your marriage in many ways. Such agreements are far more than just a blueprint for divorce. When created effectively, they can help couples get on the same page about the marital issues that matter to them most.

If you and your partner have different outlooks on money, you can decide together how you want to manage your finances. You can ensure that one partner doesn’t inherit the other’s debt. In addition, you can determine to what extent each partner will provide for any stepchildren. You can also use it to decide how you’ll resolve conflicts. If your marriage hits a rough patch, you can agree in advance to use mediation or arbitration to work through any difficulties.

Adjusting along the way

When you experience romantic love, it can cause you to have overly high expectations about your partner. As time goes on and the honeymoon stage fades, you may see your partner for their true self—and they may not satisfy your expectations. This can lead to disappointment and demotivation in the relationship. It’s important at this stage to be aware of what is going on. If you expected too much from the start, a willingness to reassess and adjust expectations—that are both satisfying for you and achievable for them—it key.

Letting your expectations guide your emotions can be detrimental to a relationship. Communicating openly with your partner about setting realistic expectations is healthy for a relationship at any stage.

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