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What Expectations Should I Have in My Marriage (Part 2)

Survivors of childhood sexual abuse and their husbands typically have great expectations as well. Unfortunately, the effects of abuse eventually invade the life of the survivor and her marriage. The invasion can cause romantic expectations to turn into traumatic experiences.

The effects of childhood sexual abuse can cause romantic expectations for marriage to turn into traumatic experiences in marriage. What should husbands of childhood sexual abuse survivors have as expectations for marriage? In this second of a two-part blog, we consider three additional questions that will test the validity and health of our expectations. Most men and women enter into marriage with great expectations.

Survivors of childhood sexual abuse and their husbands typically have great expectations as well. Unfortunately, the effects of abuse eventually invade the life of the survivor and her marriage. The invasion can cause romantic expectations to turn into traumatic experiences.

 

It is reasonable for survivors and their husbands to ask, “What expectations should I have in my marriage?”

I began answering this question in my previous blog by asking another question: Where do my expectations for marriage originate? We learn a lot about ourselves when we examine the origin of our expectations. We often discover that some of our expectations don’t make sense.

The origin of our expectations is only the beginning. In this blog, I would like to provide three more questions that can help identify places we can grow in our expectations.

After presenting each question, I will offer input that will help you explore and test the validity and health of your expectations. Based on the input I give, I will present questions you can ask yourself to help you revise or apply your expectations.

 

  1. Do I communicate my expectations?

Many husbands are afraid to express their expectations to their wives. Research shows this is especially present among husbands of survivors.

When husbands fail to fulfill an expectation held by their wives, wives are sometimes accused of making statements to their husbands such as, “I shouldn’t have to tell you.” Guys don’t know whether to laugh or scream when they hear those words.

The irony is that guys do the exact same thing. We think our expectations should be fulfilled even when we have not communicated them. And when our expectations are not fulfilled, we either fume or mope in silence. Unspoken expectations often lead to resentment. We resent our wives because we assume they don’t care enough about our needs and wants.

We, husbands, think our expectations should be fulfilled
even when we have not communicated them.

There are two truths to note at this point. First, we cannot communicate our expectations when we don’t know what they are. Expectations are deep-seated. This is why identifying the origin of our expectations is important (the topic of my last blog). Our past and what we observe around us offer clues to the expectations we’ve adopted in the present.

Second, as the husband of a survivor, recognize your wife may be at a stage in her healing process where she is not ready to fulfill or even talk about your expectations, particularly in regard to sexual intimacy. A husband might need to wait until his wife’s healing from abuse reaches a stage where he can bring the conversation about sexual intimacy into the relationship. This is one reason why both survivor and husband need to regularly see a professional counselor.

What expectations do you hold that you have not communicated to your wife?

How can you communicate your expectations without inferring blame on her?

What is an appropriate time and place for sharing your expectations?

 

  1. Are my expectations realistic?

Expectations in marriage typically encompass how we think our marriage ought to be or how we want it to be. But this world is not what it ought to be. It is not as God intended. And who of us can say our life is always what it ought to be?

The fact that our wives were violated by a perpetrator screams the fact that this world is not what God designed. We have been sorely affected by the sin that entered into this world.

The fact that our wives were violated by a perpetrator screams
the fact that this world is not what God designed.

Therefore, we need to examine the expectations of how we think things ought to be. I love comfort and I don’t like pain and sickness. But pain and sickness happen because of the disparity in our world. I cannot expect to be pain-free.

This is not to say that we slump into a pessimistic existence. Our present state is not our final destiny. Our Creator is also a Redeemer who will redeem this world, and us, to a glorified existence. But until he fulfills this promise, it is unrealistic to think that it can be now.

In what ways are you expecting a problem-free or pain-free life?

How might you be imposing unrealistic expectations on your wife?

 

  1. Am I expecting my marriage to make me happy?

Has my wife brought me some happiness? For sure! Have I enjoyed happy times in our marriage? Absolutely! The expectation that my happiness can be sustained by my wife’s performance will certainly result in disappointment.

The nature of happiness is that it is dependent on what happens. We cannot control what happens because life throws its own curve balls. Remember, things are not as they ought to be. Strikeouts occur, sickness comes, and moods change. Misunderstandings occur. Interruptions invade and minds change. Continual happiness cannot be found from anyone or anything.

Continual happiness cannot be found from anyone or anything.

Rather than pursue happiness, it is wiser to consider the inner core of what – or who – I am becoming. Think of your inner core as the character developing within you. That character is based on your beliefs and how you are responding to God, your world, and those that share this world with you. Expectations then shift their focus from how I wish others would perform to how I want qualities within me to be formed.

Expectations then shift their focus from how I wish others would perform
to how I want qualities within me to be formed.

Do you hold your wife responsible for your happiness or lack thereof? If not, what evidence can you give for your answer? What inner qualities are you pursuing or nurturing in your life?

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