How did you celebrate Valentine’s Day? For many couples–the day offers a chance to celebrate a deepening love for each other.
For others–the day sadly reminds them that their marriage falls far short of their dreams.
Couples seem to believe that once they get past the wedding, living happily ever after comes naturally. Many are surprised when it doesn’t. But, that can change.
At The Resolution Center, we know one key helps create strong relationships: setting expectations.
When couples communicate clearly what they want from life and from each other–they forge a common foundation and build connections.
If you are floundering as a couple, setting expectations in the following areas will help you find unity and joy.
Set expectations for daily life. . . and long-term goals
Opposites may attract, but they struggle to stay connected. The party-girl who first enjoyed the stability of her strong, silent beau grows to resent his desire to stay home.
While initially attracted to her energy and wit, husband grows tired of his wife’s constant need for activity.
Couples soon learn their differences require constant adjustment of their own innate nature if they are going to work together. Many decide it’s easier not to try.
No doubt–couples who naturally share interests, dreams, and goals connect easily with each other.
Yet, any couple can make their relationship work. Key rule–the more different you are, the more clearly you must define and communicate expectations.
Most couples don’t realize that the very differences that first attracted now create distance. To bridge the gap, couples should sit together to define what they hope for daily life. Explore areas as fundamental as:
- routines for the day,
- how to touch base,
- when each needs time away from the house and when they need to be home
As couples create definition of what they want, they find common ground. Though each person will still likely need to adjust for the other, a common picture for life gets couples on the same page and working together.
Set expectations for finances
Savers marry spenders. Combine this with the fact that Americans don’t discuss money, no wonder finances cause more divorces than any other factor.
Couples get stronger when they intentionally create a financial plan for their marriage.
Start with a basic budget. Outline:
- fixed expenses (mortgage, loan payments, etc.)
- variable expenses (groceries, gas, utilities)
- optional expenses (recreation, eating out, kids activities).
Then, create a joint plan for how to use your income to meet your needs. . .and your wants. The saver helps ensure priorities are set before spending. The spender ensures the family actually invests resources in areas that make life enjoyable. Couples should also agree on specific amounts each can spend independently and when they should check with each other.
Then, create long-term goals. What do you want to do as a family in the next year? Next five years? Next ten? For retirement? Create a plan for getting there.
Looking forward builds an excitement about what you will be doing together. It also provides incentive for honoring the budget.
As couples establish long-term financial goals, they work together to create a picture of the life they want and how to fund it.
Set expectations for parenting
As in other areas, spouses’ parenting styles often differ.
One is often more focused on discipline and goal-setting while the other focuses on nurturing children’s emotional health and gifts.
God designed these differing styles because He knew children need the strengths of both.
Too often, parents use their children in a tug-of-war to prove parental superiority. When spouses come to appreciate and depend on each other’s differences, they raise healthier children. More, they build health into their marriage.
Rest on the expectation of God’s provision
Not all couples claim or share a spiritual life. The first three keys help these couples find unity for their life journey.
A spiritual foundation, however, provides a glue like no other. When a couple’s base-line expectation is that God has joined them, that God is guiding them, and that God blesses their sacrifices of love for each other, they rest on a foundation that lasts.
The unchanging Holy Spirit will never send mixed messages. Thus, couples who seek God’s direction for their life find guidance that opens the door for them to join their differences in ways that knit them more tightly than they could on their own.
The surest way to relational health is resting, expectantly, in God’s joining of two hearts into one.
If are struggling and would like more information on building a stronger marriage, check out our marital mediation, then email info@TheResolutionCenterIndy.com or call 317-344-9740 for more information.