5 Unhealthy Expectations People Have about Marriage

When couples exchange vows, the air is often thick with expectations. But beware: Some of these expectations are more mirages than milestones, and clinging to them could lead your union into troubled waters.

Understanding these pitfalls is crucial for any couple gazing starry-eyed at their shared future. While hope is the heart of marriage, illusion is its adversary.

At Hello Divorce, we’ve seen our share of marital conclusions. Divorce sometimes cannot be helped and is a natural evolution of a relationship. But, of course, no one enters a marriage hoping for their happy relationship to end.

Here are five myths to keep in mind about relationships, whether you’re assessing your own marriage, thinking about dating again, or somewhere in between.

1. The myth of perpetual romance

Often, there's a belief that the intense romance of the early days will persist unwaveringly. This expectation is unsustainable. Life isn't a continuous date night. Recognize that the butterflies might settle as the relationship deepens into a different kind of love: a committed companionship where romance is an occurrence, not a constant state.

Why this myth is unhealthy: Believing in non-stop romance sets you up for disappointment. It can lead to dissatisfaction and the false belief that falling into a comfortable routine means falling out of love.

Realistic expectation: Expect a journey where romance ebbs and flows. Prioritize cultivating a strong friendship and mutual respect in your marriage. Romance should be the spice, not the whole dish.

2. The partner makeover fantasy

Entering marriage intending to change your partner is like buying a cat and expecting it to bark. People might adjust behaviors, but core characteristics and values? Not so much.

Why this myth is unhealthy: Trying to mold your spouse into someone they're not breeds resentment and frustration on both sides.

Realistic expectation: Look for compatibility from the start, and accept your partner as they are. Embrace growth and change together naturally, not through forceful transformation.

3. Always sharing common interests

The expectation that spouses must share all hobbies and passions ignores the individuality at the core of every person. Your partner is your other half, not your clone.

Why this myth is unhealthy: Insisting on total alignment of interests can stifle personal growth and lead to a loss of identity.

Realistic expectation: Respect each other's interests, and encourage individual pursuits. Share what you can, and treasure the diversity in your partnership.

4. 'Happily ever after' is the endgame

The notion that once you're married, the work is done, and you'll live 'happily ever after' is a misguided script from a Hollywood screenplay, not a life plan.

Why this myth is unhealthy: It suggests that marriage is a final destination rather than an evolving journey with its own set of challenges.

Realistic expectation: Understand that marriage is an ongoing commitment that requires active participation. Prepare to weather storms together and celebrate the growth that comes from overcoming adversity as a team.

5. The conflict-free relationship ideal

If you believe that a healthy marriage means never arguing, prepare for a shock. Even the strongest marriages include disagreement.

Why this myth is unhealthy: Avoiding conflict often means important issues go unresolved. Bottled-up emotions can lead to larger problems down the line.

Realistic expectation: See healthy debate as a sign of a vibrant relationship where both parties feel safe to express themselves. Learn to resolve disputes constructively, improving your bond over time.

Being realistic

Walk into marriage with your eyes wide open. Embrace the imperfect, cherish the unpredictable, and always keep a sense of humor close at hand. 

You're not stepping into an endless romantic saga or utopian co-existence. Marriage is a partnership packed with its own unique set of real-life twists and turns. Navigate them together with patience, understanding, and a hefty dose of reality.

Final thoughts

Understanding and adjusting your marital expectations is a necessity. We've cross-examined the common myths that can sabotage a marriage – thinking that romance will be ceaseless, attempting to shape your spouse, demanding shared interests at all times, chasing the illusion of 'happily ever after,' and believing that true love is an ever-calm sea free of conflict. These expectations can set you up for a fall. Replace them with realism, and watch your marriage stand a better chance at flourishing.

The leap into divorce, should it come to that, isn't taken lightly, either. It's a testament to the fact that sometimes, even with the best intentions, a partnership can reach its natural conclusion. If that's where you find yourself, know that it's not an admission of failure. Rather, it’s an act of courage. Divorce means you're ready to embrace a new chapter of your life with honesty and hope.

Divorce Content Specialist & Lawyer
Divorce Strategy, Divorce Process, Legal Insights

Bryan is a non-practicing lawyer, HR consultant, and legal content writer. With nearly 20 years of experience in the legal field, he has a deep understanding of family and employment laws. His goal is to provide readers with clear and accessible information about the law, and to help people succeed by providing them with the knowledge and tools they need to navigate the legal landscape. Bryan lives in Orlando, Florida.