When Hannah and Tim married, Hannah had some unconscious, even unfair, expectations of her man. Because she'd been mistreated in her first marriage, Hannah expected that Tim might treat her poorly too. So she pressured and questioned, even accused him of things he'd never do. When he far exceeded her expectations, Hannah was pleasantly surprised and learned to trust again.
The expectations we have heading into a second marriage are often quite different from those of a first marriage. Our past experiences and our current circumstances can overshadow the bliss younger couples might have going into a first marriage. There might be issues of trust, safety and security. A death or divorce may bring a cynical, or at least cautious, view of the future. Knowing how these expectations can affect your marriage is important.
In second marriages, the biggest influence is often our previous marriage. Whether you lost a spouse through death or whether there was a divorce, there are usually some negative feelings you need to deal with. Grief over the loss, sadness, depression, anger, pain, hurt and trauma—these emotions and feelings can often affect your expectations of a second marriage and put undo pressure on your mate.
We all seek happiness and security. But how we achieve it varies with each of us. This, again, is where expectations come into play. What is fun for one person may not be fun for the other. What is hurtful or scary to one person may not affect the other.
Do you expect to freely spend money or save it for a rainy day? Do you expect your future spouse to do all the housework? What do you expect of your mate as he or she stepparents your child? Because each of us is uniquely different from one another, we must understand each other's expectations if we're to have healthy relationships.
We all expect love, but what does a loving relationship look like through your eyes? Words like commitment, honesty and faithfulness may come to mind. Each person might express love in different ways.
When you don't understand what is expected of you, lots of conflict, stress and frustration can arise. What's really important to each of you spiritually, physically, educationally, financially, emotionally and sexually? What do you expect your new family to be like? What about the children? What role do you expect your spouse to take regarding stepparenting?
Dale and I spent a lot of time discussing these kinds of expectations. Because we'd been hurt in the past and had been single for so long, we knew that our previous experiences could affect us greatly if we didn't understand each other well. Knowing our faults and foibles helped us both adjust more easily to the relational mishaps that could come our way.
When you study each other's priorities and preferences, you'll be better informed when it comes to understanding each other's expectations. Though you won't get all the answers to every area of life, as you explore the area of expectations, you will soon realize how comfortable or uncomfortable you might be with the other person's expectations.
Adapted from The Remarriage Adventure: Preparing for a Lifetime of Love & Happiness by Susan and Dale Mathis. Copyright © 2012, all rights reserved. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Visit www.SusanGMathis.com for more on the adventure of remarriage.