When one enters a marriage, they are choosing to be with this person for the rest of their lives. They are heading into a new phase of their own existence, and for many, this is the first time they have been in this place: married. This is the first time they have ever experienced this level of commitment.
This can lead people to wonder what this commitment will be like. They can face questions of what married life will be like or how their relationship with their significant other will change, as a result of the newly formed commitment. This leads to speculation, forming a level of expectations that they hope to achieve as a spouse.
While expectations can be met in many forms, expectations also can create challenges in interpersonal relationships. Your set of expectations is different than another person’s set of expectations, and when it comes to marriage, expectations can create marital conflict even before the couple says “I do.”
Expectations and marriage
According to Psychology Today, there is a recent trend in relationships where many find themselves trying to sort through their spouse’s role in their own life. Many think to themselves: Juxtaposed to my career, how does my spouse fit in? How do they fit in, with respect to my family? My friends? What do they expect of me, as a spouse? What do I expect of them? What do they think of what I expect of them? What do I think of what they expect of me?
These all are questions that many sort through before they get engaged, but for some, the changes to your relationship status create enough new aspects to your life that you form a whole new set of questions and expectations.
This can put a lot of pressure on the spouses and lead to major conflict. Without a level of communication necessary to create an exchange of expectations, miscommunication and mistrust can be manifested, leading to questions of how long you can keep this going.
The suffocation model
This can suffocate a marriage and spark a divorce. Researchers from Northwestern University and the University of Chicago teamed up understand this level of suffocation. They developed the suffocation model of marriages in America, detailing how contemporary Americans ask their marriages to help fulfill physiological and safety needs much less than in the past. They look to these marriages to aid them in fulfilling their self-actualization and esteem needs much more than past years.
What people are seeking out of their marriages is requiring psychological resources and the investment of time to ensure that the two spouses understand one another. Unfortunately, most spouses are not investing a sufficient amount of resources, in order to enjoy the psychological and marital rewards that this type of investment entails.
As a result, average levels of personal well-being and marital quality are on the decline. As a part of the suffocation model, spouses who struggle with an imbalance between what they are asking from their marriage and what they are investing in it have several options for corrective action: intervening to optimize their available resources, increasing their investment of resources in the marriage, and asking less of the marriage, in terms of facilitating the fulfillment of spouses’ higher needs.
This model allows individuals to identify how they view their current relationships or identify what may have occurred in past relationships. In divorcing a spouse, you are sometimes admitting that your needs within the marriage were not met, and for those with expectations, those may not have been met either.
Whether it is a difference in parenting styles or how one manages money, expectations of one or more spouses within a marriage can suffocate it, if both spouses are not investing in one another enough. Their needs need to be met, in order to sustain a healthy and functional relationship, and when they are not, they can find themselves divorcing.
Expectations and Divorce
Even during a divorce, couples can find themselves having expectations, as well as having to deal with the expectations of a soon-to-be ex-spouse. When it pertains to asset division, custody, child support, alimony, visitation schedule, and other aspects of the divorce process that require both parties’ involvement, many expectations can form.
As an individual of so many means and limits, you cannot satisfy every single expectation that pertains to the divorce experience. All of your expectations are not going to be met, just as your soon-to-be ex-spouse’s expectations are not going to be met. That is a reality of the experience, and one that both of you inevitably will have to come to terms with.
While you and your attorney should do everything in your power to protect your future and the future of your children, there should be an understanding that divorce includes some levels of loss. Not everything you want in a divorce will be what you take out of it, and expectations should be adjusted accordingly.
Dan Pearce is an Online Editor for Lexicon, focusing on subjects related to the legal services of customers, Cordell & Cordell and Cordell Planning Partners. He has written countless pieces on MensDivorce.com, detailing the plight of men and fathers going through the divorce experience, as well as the issues seniors and their families experience throughout the estate planning journey on ElderCareLaw.com. Mr. Pearce has managed websites and helped create content, such as the Men’s Divorce Newsletter and the YouTube series, “Men’s Divorce Countdown.” He also has been a contributor on both the Men’s Divorce Podcast and ElderTalk with TuckerAllen.
Mr. Pearce assisted in fostering a Cordell Planning Partners practice area specific for Veterans, as they deal with the intricacies of their benefits while planning for the future. He also helped create the Cordell Planning Partners Resource Guide and the Cordell Planning Partners Guide to Alternative Residence Options, specific for seniors with questions regarding their needs and living arrangements.