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Talking about These Expectations can Save Your Relationship

Photo by Juan Pablo Serrano Arenas

My now-fiance and I have been doing couples therapy for over a year. I know, most of the time, people think couple’s therapy is the last shred of hope for people who have failing relationships. But we decided to strengthen our communication and get ahead of any issues before they become an issue.

Or, as my boyfriend said, “we want to go from 90% to as close 100% as we can.”

I bring this up because our therapist once had us do an exercise that blew my mind.

Since my fiance and I want to get married, our therapist had us go over specific topics and what we expected them to look like in our lives.

A lot of times, people's expectations live up in their heads. They don’t communicate them and automatically think their partner is on the same page as them. Then, when those expectations aren’t met, they're left disappointed.

That’s when resentment, hurtful emotions, and feeling unfulfilled can build.

After my fiance and I went through each topic and talked about our expectations, I felt even more confident about our relationship. We were on the same page for most things, and even the ones we disagreed on, we talked through.

Now, I know counseling and therapy aren’t something everyone can physically access or afford (though, if you can, I highly suggest giving them a try). But that doesn’t mean you can’t talk about expectations with your partner or become clear on what yours are for a future relationship.

So I put together a list of questions, based on the topics our therapist spoke with us about, that can help you understand your expectations better:

Home: How do you want to spend time at home? Where do you want to live in the future? Does one of us want to live close to our family?

Finances: Will expenses be split evenly? Will you help each other pay off debt? Do you both expect to keep working in the future?

Work: Will you share what goes on at work? Would you move away for a job?

Food and Health: Who will cook when things are busy? Will you keep each other healthy? How would one of you bring up a health concern? What are your expectations with drugs and alcohol?

The Relationship: Do you want to be best friends? Will you do most of your traveling together? Do you want emotional support? Do you want financial support? What do you not want in a partner?

Family: Do you want to have kids? How often will you see your families? How do you see them playing a part in your lives?

Children: How do you want to raise your kids? Are there any expectations for ways of parenting that you have? How many kids do you want? What will you do if you can't physically have kids?

Community: How do you both want to be involved with the community? Do you expect to be more private or open?

Support: How will you handle someone who insults your partner? What if it's a family member? Do you expect your partner's full support?

Stress: How does each person handle stress? How do you expect your partner to support you?

Growth: What do you expect to do in the relationship to grow? What about if there's an issue?

Communication: What kind of communication do you want in your relationship? Is there any off-limits topic? When will you find times to communicate when you're both busy?

Expectations can be premeditated resentment unless spoken about.

So hopefully, this helps you as it did with my fiance and me.


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