What Did You Expect?

I’d been married for about a month and a half when my husband told me that I needed to start “taking on more wifely duties.”   WTF?!?!?

“Excuse me?”  I asked, and then went on.  “You married me.  I’m the same person I was two months ago.”

I found it absurd that the man I’d lived with for three years thought that I should suddenly morph into a five-star chef and meticulous housekeeper after the vows left my lips.  Turns out, it’s not so bizarre.  It should be, of course… but it’s not.

For some reason, many people assume their partner will change after marriage.  My ex looked at me and thought that I would “make a good wife”- for him, that meant I would cook and clean and have babies and quit my job to stay home and raise those babies.  I have no clue what gave him that idea.  When it didn’t happen that way, he felt betrayed.  It’s too bad he wasn’t clear about his expectations going into the marriage.  And it’s unfortunate that I wasn’t clear about mine either… of course, it was easy for me.  I had none.

The more people I talk to about their divorces or unhappy marriages, the more I see this problem:  The Role Expectation Issue. We’ve all heard about the high-level things that couples should talk about before marriage:  finances, goals, children, religious affiliations, living arrangements, etc…..  but that doesn’t always cover Role Expectations.  Someone once told me “…she expected me to turn into her father as she turned into her mother.”  That’s a huge problem.  Especially considering the bad rap of the in-laws… who wants to be expected to turn into them?  Total deal breaker as far as I’m concerned.

So what’s up with that?   What makes us think that a day spent in uncomfortable clothing, ending in a drunken dance fest, is going to change our partners into other people?  Why do we let it change ourselves?  Oh, wait… if we’re letting it change us, I guess that’s why we assume the other person will change too.  But that’s still wrong.  And it’s something that should be discussed beforehand…

“Honey, unless you are physically unable to do so yourself, I will never- ever– butter your toast as part of my morning ritual.”

…Let nothing go assumed.

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One comment on “What Did You Expect?

  1. […] Since the divorce, my mom and dad have each maintained long-term committed relationships.  I’ve had a handful of pseudo step-parents and step-siblings… but it was never Official.  I’ve since learned that when something becomes Official, it makes a big difference.  With marriage comes expectations.  (and that’s one of the things I hate most about marriage… darn expectations!) […]

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