There are a variety of reason and factors that contribute to the decline of a relationship or marriage. As an experience marriage counsellor, I often ask couples how they think marriage works or how a relationship work. Often times, people go into marriage having no idea how it works. Part of making a marriage work is knowing how to resolve conflict, keep the relationship interesting and make sure both people can get their needs met in a mutually satisfying way. Most people do not learn these effective marriage skills. A good marriage counsellor can help people assess their marriage expectations and see if they are helpful or not.
One significant factor for marriage decline is that one or both partners carry unrealistic marriage expectations or unrealistic relationship expectations. Unrealistic expectations for a relationship or for your partner may be responsible for your unhappiness. It's important to assess your marriage expectations on your own or a good expat couple counsellor can help you with that and replace them with more effective beliefs about marriage.
Unrealistic expectations also contribute to thinking that leads a person to believe that they are entitled to seek affection and sex outside the relationship resulting in cheating in the marriage. Evaluating your expectation and perhaps adjusting them can go a long way to improving your relationship and protecting the marriage from cheating.
Below are common unrealistic expectations adapted from Janis Abrahms Spring, PhD and her book After the Affair.
- My partner and I should feel a deep, unspoken bond at all times
- My partner should be able to anticipate my needs
- I shouldn’t have to behave in a trustworthy manner
- My partner should want sex when I want it and in the way I want it whenever I want it and be okay if I do not want sex when they do
- I demand to be loved in my specific way and if they can’t do it, it means they don’t love
- I shouldn’t have to give up anything I want to make the relationship work, if I do then it’s not meant to be
- My partner should work to make thing exciting for me, I don’t need to do anything
- My partner should love me unconditionally
- My partner should be emotionally available to me whenever I need him or her
- Love is a feeling that can’t be forced or manufactured. It either exists or doesn’t
- If I have to work hard to make a relationship good then maybe it is not meant to be
- A good marriage/relationship is free of conflict
- If I’m not happy in our relationship, it’s my partner’s fault
- We shouldn’t have to work at feeling sexual desire for each other; it should come naturally or not at all
- When passion dies, so does the relationship
Asking too much from love, your relationship or your partner can quickly set you up for disappointment. When we have expectations for anyone else other than ourselves we will be disappointed. Read below some more common, but faulty expectations. Imagine trying to live up to these for your partner. If you find you hold these beliefs you may want to seek help from an experienced marriage counsellor to evaluate and consider replacing them or you may always struggle to find satisfaction in a relationship, adapted from Janis Abraham Spring, After the Affair:
- You desire a partner that can almost read your mind and anticipate your needs but at the same time not smother you and know when you need your space
- You expect your partner to do exactly what you want to do, at the moment you want to do it, and to be happily occupied when you don’t have time
- You want your partner to be your everything and meet all the needs of a friend, companion, protector, playmate, mentor and lover and to be able to do this seamlessly anticipating your needs at the right moment.
- You expect your partner to make you feel and be better without make you feel bad about it.
- You expect your partner to put your needs above his/her needs
- You expect your partner to know your needs and communicate them with complete clarity, even when you’re being unreasonable
- You expect your partner to forgive your human limitations, even as you reject his or her imperfections.
If you find that either you or your partner have any of these expectations or beliefs, the belief and not partner may be contributing to your happiness. Examining your beliefs and looking at replacing or modifying them either on your own or with a professional trained marriage counsellor can go a long way to helping improve the quality of your relationship. Call us to learn more how we can help you at 90307239.