There was a question in the forums this week that left me SMDH, as the kids say.
A young woman was so desperate for a ring on her finger but so anxious about scaring off her boyfriend of six years that she never brought up the topic of marriage herself and only hoped he would finally propose and make all her dreams come true. What are those dreams? Well, to be married, of course!! And what would that dream marriage look like? Would there be kids? Would one of the parents stay home with them or would the kids have a nanny or go to daycare? Would the family have help with cleaning or would they do the cleaning themselves? Would one spouse do more cleaning than the other? Would one be more responsible than the other for finances? What kind of home would they live in? You know, the LW literally never thought of these things! And she was shocked when her boyfriend suggested SHE give up her job and her cleaning lady and be a full-time stay-at-home mom who would do all the cleaning because that’s what her boyfriend’s mother did and so that’s what his expectation of marriage is. And the LW, despite never thinking about these things, is totes fine with all that and now they’ve agreed to buy a house immediately and get married next summer.
Anyway, it got me thinking about marriage expectations. Drew and I discussed them extensively before getting engaged — we discussed them a lot before I even moved from Chicago to New York (11 years ago!). We matched well on the big things and were willing to compromise on smaller things. For example, we both wanted kids (and were both undecided on how many but agreed that two sounded nice), and we ideally wanted a parent to stay home with them in the early years at least part-time, though neither of us was opposed to daycare or a nanny situation. My career choice (writing on the internet) made staying home at least part-time more feasible although in the last year Drew has also been transitioning to working from home a little more. It was important to Drew that we raise potential kids Jewish, and I was fine with that as long as we could still celebrate Christmas in a secular way, with a tree, please, and as long as I wasn’t expected to convert. (We joined a synagogue a few weeks ago, Jackson just started Hebrew school, and I still have no plans to convert though I go to occasional services and observe holidays with the family.) I was happy moving to NYC (obviously), but I didn’t want to raise a family in the middle of Manhattan where Drew lived when I met him, so a year after our marriage we moved to Brooklyn, where it basically feels like Sesame Street, and we’re all very happy here.
As far as domestic stuff goes, I do more of the cooking and a little more cleaning, but Drew does his fair share of both, and we have a cleaning lady twice a month who is worth every penny. I contribute financially to the household by buying all the groceries, paying for housekeeping and babysitting, buying the kids’ clothes, and paying for their extracurricular classes. Drew makes more money than I do and takes care of the big household expenses beyond these things. In general, both of us are totally satisfied with how things work and feel like the expectations we had going into marriage are met. We both say thank you a lot to each other, which I think goes a long way, and when little resentments crop up or when we have a change in expectations, we’re pretty good about expressing them in a calm manner. No marriage is perfect, but I feel really good about ours and I know that those early conversations about what we both were looking for and the time we took to make sure we were a match in that regard is a HUGE reason why our marriage continues to work.
If you’re married (or engaged), did you discuss expectations with your partner before a proposal (please say yes)? Did you match perfectly or did you need to make some compromises? If you’ve been married for a while, do you find that your marriage more or less meets the expectations you had before tying the knot? Have your expectations changed at all since getting married?
Related: 17 Things Every Couple MUST Discuss Before Getting Married and What We Wish We’d Known Before Moving In Together
MissD October 4, 2018, 9:51 am
Uh oh… you’re in for it now, Wendy. Countdown til the OP chimes in about how mean and harsh it is for you to feature her post on the home page.
Kate October 4, 2018, 10:08 am
When I got married at 21, honestly, yes, kind of. It was like, he’s in the Air Force and we’ll be living in Italy! Yay! We kind of both thought we’d have kids at some point in the future, and we figured I’d do more of the housework. He’d make the money, I’d do something part time (nanny, waitress), and yeah.
And that worked out ok, actually, thanks to my parents paying for my education (because I had another year of college to finish), and encouraging me to go to grad school once we were back in the states. But then he completely flipped on everything he had told me he wanted in life and it turned out he wanted something completely different. So everything we’d been talking about our lives being like after his 4 years in the military, fell apart and we went our separate ways. I think we were too young to know what we really wanted anyway, so talking all about it at 20 and 23 wasn’t that useful.
Then with my current husband, it was like, ok, we are both middle aged adults, we know what our lifestyles are, and our careers, we know we don’t want kids, we wanted to live in the city, we knew what we wanted that to look like, we worked out finances and division of labor while living together for a year.
I would say it’s exceeded my expectations. He does so much around the house, including like the emotional and mental work that usually falls on women. We still want the same things.
I guess I think you can talk all you want when you’re young, and things can change drastically. And when you’re older, you should already know that your lifestyles gel and you want the same things.
But yes, of course you should talk about all of these things, and I was SMDH too when I read that post, like, girl, he sounds like kind of a traditional chauvinist, and it doesn’t sound like you were at all on the same page, but you just decided to go ahead and say you’re on board with everything he said.
Vathena October 4, 2018, 10:15 am
“I guess I think you can talk all you want when you’re young, and things can change drastically. And when you’re older, you should already know that your lifestyles gel and you want the same things.”
Yes, this so much!
ktfran October 4, 2018, 10:28 am
I think Kate’s paragraph summed it up so nicely.
I remember talking a big game when younger, both me and the people I dated. And that’s all it really amounted to. Talk. Then we changed, or grew and parted ways amicably.
I ultimately chose someone who, yes, our lifestyles and goals matched. We’re basically the same person. Not really. But sort of. I’d say we’re pretty equal in all things and when one is super busy or sick or whatever, the other picks up the slack. When we said our vows, instead of I now pronounce you husband and wife, I asked the person marrying us to say I now pronounce you partners for life. That’s what we are. Partners. In a good way. We have each others back.
Although I told him I’d never wipe his ass so we needed to make sure we had enough money to cover costs if one of us were to get seriously ill. TMI?
ktfran October 4, 2018, 10:30 am
We’ve only been married a little over a year. So far, so good with the expectations thing. Maybe I’ll have a different answer in 10 years. Or five. Or next week.
Copa October 4, 2018, 1:42 pm
“I now pronounce you partners for life.” Totally stealing that if I ever get married! Because that’s what I want and what I want Future Mr. Copa (Copo?) to want. 🙂
More generally, I am enjoying reading these responses. I’ve only talked marriage with one boyfriend, and we were like 24-25 and fairly cluelessly living together. They seemed like serious talks at the time, but now I look back and see they weren’t, it was all so vague. He finished law school the year before I did, and I thought once we figured out our first jobs out of school, we’d be able to talk more concretely. But he didn’t find a job, his dad had to hire him, and then he did things I thought were super weird (like applying to PhD programs in a discipline he had no background in whatsoever, and as a non-student he joined a student club at our undergrad institution…erm…). And then everything kinda fell to pieces, he thought I was unsupportive, I found his avoidance of the real world and entitlement off-putting. I think what it really boils down to was that we were both too young to know what we really wanted, or where we wanted to be or what we wanted to be doing individually, and neither of us were prepared for or expecting how much life and goals change in those first few years in the real world. So all our talks were just fantasy talks, we just didn’t know it yet.
I think if I ever have those talks with someone again, I know myself better. I have a career I like. I’m independent. I make good money, have savings, and a retirement fund. I know I’m a liberal person who needs another liberal person. I know I’m a city or suburb-with-a-city-feel person. I still feel on the fence about kids. I’m sure there would still be discussions and likely compromise, but I think “future talks” would go so, so much better now than they did like six years ago with my ex.
ktfran October 4, 2018, 3:05 pm
@copa, I don’t know why that was really important to me, the way our union was announced. I guess it’s because I never really wanted to be a “wife”? I didn’t even know if I wanted to get married until I met the husband. I mean, I did and I didn’t. With him, it was just an easy choice. Ugh. Gross. Don’t tell him I said that. Although he knows because similar phrasing was used in my vows. And my sister’s speech! Craziness!
Copa October 4, 2018, 3:41 pm
@ktfran I think I get it. I know if I get married, I’d be someone’s wife, but wouldn’t call myself that. To each their own, but there’s just something about being a *wife* that I don’t like even though I’d like to get married if I meet the right person. Partner, I like.
Vathena October 4, 2018, 10:13 am
My husband and I have been very compatible right from the beginning. The first time I saw his condo after we started dating, I noted that it looked like a Real Grownup lived there. Unlike guys I’d dated before him, his place had no layer of grime, and it did not smell like feet, and he had a real bed frame and headboard, not just a mattress on the floor. There were no dishes in the sink and there were books on the shelves. It was easy to tell that our tidiness levels were a match, and we have virtually zero issues with division of cleaning labor, even in the years before we hired a cleaning service.
When moving in together, we talked finances and agreed that rather than pay rent, I would pay off my student loans. Before getting married, we exchanged credit reports – both of us are savers first, and carry no debt beyond our current mortgage (and maybe a car payment soon). When we bought our house, we already knew we wanted to stay in our current area, and had talked extensively about budgeting and what we wanted. We know we are both “city mice” and prefer the walkability lifestyle that comes with living in an urban-ish place. So we are compatible financially/lifestyle-wise.
We talked about kids well before getting engaged, knew we wanted one kid only, and that we probably wouldn’t seek medical intervention if it didn’t happen for us. It did, and while we briefly considered my staying home with our daughter (as he makes 3x what I do), ultimately I wasn’t willing to take the risk of giving up a job I really enjoy. It is relatively flexible and pays pretty well, I’m was fully vested in the 401(k) and getting annual raises. He fully supported whatever I wanted to do. Now our daughter is in kindergarten and I have probably 75k more in retirement and am making 50% more than what I would if I were just now getting back into the workforce. We can also easily afford 2x/month housecleaning (and I’m still DYING to know how a single person living alone can possibly justify having a housecleaner 3x/week!)
And the big ones: husband is both a liberal Democrat and a cat person.
JD October 4, 2018, 10:24 am
I really am dying to know about the house keeper thing as well. To justify that you very likely would have to be the biggest clean freak or the biggest slob, one of the two. I really don’t understand why this is necessary.
Vathena October 4, 2018, 10:28 am
Right? This boggles my mind.
LisforLeslie October 4, 2018, 10:31 am
My assumption is that the housekeeper is also preparing meals. I have known people that use a bath towel once before putting it into the laundry.
Not saying it’s how I live, but different strokes and all.
Vathena October 4, 2018, 10:35 am
If she’s got someone doing all of her cooking, cleaning, and laundry for her now, becoming a SAHM with zero help is going to REALLY suck.
Vathena October 4, 2018, 10:26 am
All that to say, yes, marriage to my husband is pretty much what I expected. We’d talked about all the big things and make decisions as a team. Having a baby threw things out of equilibrium for a little bit, but over time we adjusted to our new schedule and responsibilities. I have no complaints.
MP October 4, 2018, 10:29 am
“And the big ones: husband is both a liberal Democrat and a cat person.”
^^ you hit the jackpot Vathena!
Kate October 4, 2018, 10:36 am
It’s not the US, so maybe labor is cheaper and it’s more common to have like a maid. Idk.
Kate October 4, 2018, 10:42 am
Yeah, I just looked it up and a housekeeper is very very inexpensive by our standards.
Vathena October 4, 2018, 10:48 am
Okay, that makes more sense. I guess it makes that much LESS sense, then, that the boyfriend thinks that she should be doing all the housework after they get married…
JD October 4, 2018, 10:54 am
That makes more sense.
Dear Wendy October 4, 2018, 11:19 am
Oh, that makes a little more sense then. I grew up in Asia til I was 13 and domestic help was cheap, so my educator parents could afford twice a week house cleaning (with cooking). At one point, my mom had a seamstress who made most of her clothes (bc at 6’ it was hard for her to find clothes in Korea that fit her!), and we had a gardener too. Definitely would not have had all that in the states on teacher salaries!!
TheHizzy October 5, 2018, 9:52 am
Yup this. A lot of people in my region have house keepers and landscapers. I rarely see anyone do their own yard work. We don’t have a yard so not needed for us. A house keeper would be nice during the fall when we’re both gone from 7 am – 9 pm. Maybe next year!
JD October 4, 2018, 10:23 am
We had A LOT of conversations about what we wanted, how we lived and more. We both wanted pretty much the same things so there hasn’t be a ton of compromise. The one big one has been moving to another state for a while. We both wanted to move from CA to find an affordable house and we both agreed on the potential locations (although I would move to Seattle in a heartbeat and he doesn’t love the weather….although housing there isn’t affordable anyway).
We both agreed on finances, kids, me staying home vs working, how we see spending our days, weekends. I am home now as long as we stay in Illinois, which isn’t much longer. Since I am home and we don’t have small children I do pretty much everything. I send him with lunch every day (and a love note) and have dinner made just about every night. I actually missed having time to cook so much and I look forward to that time of day, so that has been nice. He usually cooks breakfast on the weekends since we actually have time to eat and once every two weeks or so we do pizza since everyone in this house LOVES pizza. Once in a while we do a leftovers night or grab something out, usually on the weekend. I clean mostly but that would have been the case no matter what. I am a clean freak and actually enjoy cleaning. I think I zone out and it just gives me time to focus, see results and not think about too much. I’ve always been this way. Of course he cleans up after himself and doesn’t expect me to be a slave to him in that way by any stretch.
We do a good amount of our errands together. We like to grocery shop together, find something new to try, discuss if we should buy that ham that is on sale and what we might make with it. That is kind of our Sat a.m. thing we enjoy. We totally agree on kids, both want two max although he jokes that he would happily have a litter with me. I think the only thing we don’t agree on is that he would love twins while that is a nightmare to me. If we end up having to go toward fertility treatments it just could end up that way though, lord help me.
We even had completely matching furniture. Same color schemes and all. That made life easier! I think the one debate we really have is that ugly dining room table he wants to keep. I really hate that thing!
LisforLeslie October 4, 2018, 10:28 am
I find all of this fascinating. I grew up with less than traditional role models. All the women in my family worked. The men of my mom & dad’s generation contributed to home care: Laundry, vacuuming, grocery shopping, whatever. The women still had the bulk, but it was never ridiculously lopsided.
Never married -can’t imagine liking someone enough to want them around that much. At this point I doubt I’d even consider it unless he was ridiculously wealthy with no heirs and no pre-nup. I’m no fool.
Kate October 4, 2018, 10:57 am
Yeah I know what you mean. My mom worked FT and made more than my dad at times. And he (and oddly his dad too I guess), did at least half the housework and childcare. I felt like you in my 30s, like why bother getting married again, I don’t know if I want to, and I can’t imagine meeting a guy I’d want to live with. Plus I had my own money and retirement savings. You might or you might not!
JD October 4, 2018, 11:25 am
I was pretty ok with not getting married. I had a good job, great place, did what I wanted. I really couldn’t even be motivated to talk to a man let alone go out. Everyone kept saying I needed to date and I just wasn’t interested. I really never expected to end up with my husband let alone be calling him my husband.
LisforLeslie October 4, 2018, 11:50 am
Yup – I’m not against it. At this point it’s more – How could someone fit in my life and not irritate me?
I have a low irritation threshold. Although strangely I have absolutely no concern over something I’ve heard is one of many couples’ endless fights: I have no concern if the TP roll goes over or under.
JD October 4, 2018, 11:56 am
I have a fairly low irritation threshold. Husband does of course do things to irritate me but most things aren’t too much to handle. He knows better about the TP roll though. Stepson always puts it under but I avoid his bio hazard bathroom anyway. You just can’t reach it as easily.
jnsunique October 4, 2018, 10:29 am
It is really important to talk expectations after marriage. My husband has changed (ok, me too) in the 11 years we’ve been married, since the age of 27. Frankly, modern gender roles are more convenient for him, and we have so many married friends where both people work but the woman runs the household and is the primary parent. I actively resist this slide in expectations, and I don’t think he recognizes the slide. We argue on occasion about expectations. Nothing really gets resolved but we get to vent and things get better for awhile. It is highly likely though, that after our kids grow up and leave, and we hire a housecleaner, that most of our issues about expectations will be resolved. Money is the easier issue, for us. We don’t have a ton of it, but I’m ok with earning 100% of our income.
SpaceySteph October 4, 2018, 2:38 pm
My husband and I try very hard to set him up as more of the primary parent. His schedule is more predictable than mine so he’s available more for Drs visits, etc., yet the daycare still calls me first when she’s sick. Ugh.
Ange October 4, 2018, 5:43 pm
I agree, we have pretty regular State of the Union chats. Our lives change so regularly and so dramatically it’s very important to manage expectations collectively.
veritek33 October 4, 2018, 11:07 am
I’m not married nor engaged, but MofV and I have been having these conversations. Actually on Sunday we went to lunch and had a big “what do we see in our future” discussion over margaritas.
We both expect to keep working. We both would like at least one child, 2 at most if we are able. We are both open to adoption if we are unable to get pregnant traditionally. We agree we would like to stay in my current home for a few years and then think about building a “forever” home that would more suit our needs. We’ve discussed finances and sitting down to pay bills together. We both would like to keep having dogs and he agrees to tolerate my cat 🙂 I cook and he cleans up afterward. I have a cleaning lady that comes once a month – budget non negotiable for sanity and a clean house.
Basically this is ALL talk at this point because we aren’t married or engaged. But I’m glad we are communicating now about what we’d like out of a partnership and marriage. I’ve never had these conversations with anyone I’ve dated and it’s so nice to be on relatively same pages and looking forward to the future together. I think being in our mid 30s helps with our expectations than say, if we’d have these conversations 10 years ago.
Rangerchic October 4, 2018, 12:01 pm
I like reading everyone’s stories.
I had my first child at 19, married at 22, husband adopted first child and then had my second child at 24 – all while going to college. So my marriage did not start out traditionally. However, our 20 year anniversary is actually next Wednesday.
Growing up in the south, I never really considered that there were other choices than not having children, not getting married, doing whatever you wanted instead of traditional roles. My parents never talked to me about stuff like that. I made sure to talk to my girls about opportunities and making themselves happy no matter their choices.
That being said, husband also grew up with traditional roles (also the south). But we have both grown and changed a lot since getting married. It’s kind of hard to remember those first years anymore. I was always a little to controlling and he was to submissive which worked in the beginning. As we’ve grown we have met more in the middle – which I like. But I still do all the budgeting, all the grocery shopping (he will go with me if I ask) all the meal planning. Sometimes, I do get frustrated with all the meal planning. He doesn’t understand. And I say I’ve been doing it nearly 20 years! But he does help out a lot around the house. It’s mostly divided equally. Though I do all the emotional and mental work too. But to be fair, most of our marriage he works 55+ hours a week in a physically demanding environment (new construction plumbing).
We haven’t talked about our expectations in a while and never once had that conversation before getting married. As I mentioned above, we were young. It is time to bring it up again. We moved from our home state 3 years ago and our youngest is a freshman in college. We have to decide where our future will take us…staying here, moving back, a new adventure? Not sure.
csp October 4, 2018, 12:02 pm
My husband and I had major kid conversations when we were younger. But I think it is the big compatibility items that are more important. Like, we both save and splurge in the same way. We both think it is wasteful to buy lunch at work but will splurge on travel. We both are savers with the same religion.
But the one thing we have learned is that life will not look like what you thought. We thought we would have a big family and my job would be less important. We ended up not being able to have kids biologically and adopted one and my career has grown past our expectations. We bought our home as a Starter Home but now think it is our forever home as our responsibilities and goals have changed. I do think expectations and conversations are important but life very rarely looks the way you thought it would.
LisforLeslie October 4, 2018, 12:41 pm
That’s good perspective -that you can outline what you want but sometimes life doesn’t work that way.
I advise my friends to take a trip with their SO’s before committing to marriage because trips can be stressful and don’t always go as planned.
Also, although not always possible, and admittedly awful seeing someone deal with a crisis is enlightening. Death in the family, lost job, illness all count. Heck, losing one’s luggage while on the aforementioned trip is a GREAT indicator of how they handle stress? Do they buy a toothbrush and wash out their undies in the hotel sink or do they bitch for days on end?
csp October 4, 2018, 2:35 pm
I totally agree about crisis thinking. But many times you can see how people handle small things and get an idea about big things. My husband and I have been together since 2005 and married since 2007. We have seen each other in really bad situations and watched each other get better.
ktfran October 4, 2018, 12:56 pm
I would consider kids to be a big compatibility item. As in, do you or do you not want them? I don’t want children and I would not have married someone who did.
csp October 4, 2018, 2:33 pm
I agree about wanting vs. not wanting. But also what happens if those plans don’t work out one way or another. We couldn’t. But we threw crazy amounts of money at the attempts. We were good about taking breaks and checking in but we had to look at each other and say how much money are we willing to pay for this dream. On the other side, who is responsible for the birth control for that.
ktfran October 4, 2018, 3:23 pm
I think all of that is important to discuss, but you’re right in that you never really know until you go through it and minds could definitely change.
And I wish more people would discuss BC! I hate that it usually falls solely on the woman. For us, he has no problem getting a vasectomy and he offered, but I want to stay on my IUD because it helps with my super horrible periods. Since being on it, I’m no longer anemic. And I don’t vomit from cramps. Bless the IUD. He might get one anyway so we’re doubly protected.
SpaceySteph October 4, 2018, 1:04 pm
I agree with folks that things change over time. Talking about things is good and you should do it, but you should also be aware that one talk you had when you were 20 or 24 (or heck even 30) is not going to be the final decision on the subject. You could want to have on SAHP but financially can’t make it work or realize that you love your careers and don’t want to leave. You could think you want to work but when you have a child realize you’d rather stay home.
I think its more important to learn about each other’s values and goals and personalities than it is to discuss specific answers to specific scenarios. I told my husband a week or so ago after a conversation about Kavanaugh that he’s surprisingly woke for a cis white Christian male. He said he thinks it’s in large part because he married me and I’ve shown him why the issues matter even if they don’t affect him. And maybe I have provided him a different perspective and information he wouldn’t have had before, but I don’t think that’s the whole story. His temperament matters– he was receptive to my opinions on the issues because he sees me as an equal and values my opinion. And his values matter– maybe he doesn’t see injustice as clearly as I do, but when I point out something is unjust, he agrees it is unjust and should not be so.
As life and circumstances change, I think its these fundamental compatibilities which will help us stay together.
SpaceySteph October 4, 2018, 1:35 pm
Also, my husband is Catholic and so we had to do the Catholic premarital counseling. Some of it wasnt great (like when we were asked to abstain from sex until marriage even if we had already had sex prior, which we had and continued to do while engaged) but some of it was really generic/universal like discussions of budget and kids.
I just wish it was more common in secular contexts to have such premarital counseling.
Kate October 4, 2018, 1:45 pm
I think, too, you can talk to your partner and genuinely think you want something and that it will work for you, then later realize it doesn’t. My first husband was totally on board with living in Boston after his 4 years in the Air Force. I pressed him on it a lot to be sure, but after a while it was clear what he really wanted (as I suspected) was to live in the rural-ish town 45 mins north where he was from. I had lived up there too in middle school and high school, and I just could not. I could never live in the suburbs like that.
Maybe it’s just as important, if not more, to have the communication skills to keep checking in about what’s working and what’s not, and be able to make adjustments.
JD October 4, 2018, 1:56 pm
Very good point about how things can change. You can only make plans because life will throw things at you. Someone will be sick, or lose a job or decide living near an older parent is best or or or. Some people are city people and then have kids and want to be in a area with bigger houses and easier commutes. So much can change your ideas of what you want. I surely never thought I’d consider living in Utah, nor did husband , ever but pretty good chance that is where we will end up. The conversations need to continue throughout your marriage.
va-in-ny October 4, 2018, 1:52 pm
I think everyone’s insights here are perfect. Yes, you have to talk about these things, but you also have to be willing to compromise. I had a series of not-a-career jobs for the first 6 years we were dating, and right before we married, I ended up in something that I really enjoy. I always thought I’d leave the workforce and take care of children, but now, I can’t see myself doing so. Also, he went into consulting (meaning a lot of travel), and if he told me that was his intent way back, I probably would have said “absolutely not!” but it works for us for now and it brings in a lot of money that we’re putting into savings.
My job provides great insurance and gives him the ability to accept higher pay for less benefits, I cover the rest.
Now, we’re expecting our first child and we’re kind of winging it. We both know I’ll return to work eventually, but with my company, I will likely be given leniency and flexibility to have a schedule that works for me and my family.
Sure, we talked about the big things, children vs. no children, financial stability, etc. but if we were so rigid in those things, we would have split a long time ago.
Lucidity October 4, 2018, 2:42 pm
My husband and I discussed marriage for about a year before getting engaged. There were many, many conversations about our needs, expectations, values, and life goals. Finances, child-rearing, division of household chores, the level of care we’d want to provide for our aging parents down the road – there were too many conversations to list. By the time he proposed, we thought it wasn’t possible to be any more on the same page than we already were, but we took a pre-marital course just to be safe, which cemented our communication and conflict resolution skills (I can’t recommend pre-marital counseling enough, I’m sure we’ve saved ourselves at least one round of marriage counseling down the line somewhere!). We’re well-matched and made little to no compromises.
My expectations of marriage are about the same as what it actually looks like now, three years after the wedding, which I have no doubt is due to all the conversations and counseling we had. A few things changed, one being our expectations for who would do which household chores. We divvied them up fairly evenly, based on who loathed that particular chore the least. Put into practice, it often ends up being who is most able to complete the chore on that particular day. My husband is supposed to do all the cooking and make lunches, but on days when he coaches baseball, he’s home pretty late, so I take over dinner. I’m supposed to do all the laundry, but on days when I have a 12-hour shift, I’m too exhausted, so he’ll often put a load in if he needs some done. It works because we willingly pick up each other’s slack without being asked, and without keeping score.
The other thing that changed was our expectations for our sex life. We thought the honeymoon phase would last forever, and that we’d have no trouble making love at least once daily, probably more. The frequency dropped off quite a bit after the first year or so of marriage, so now we schedule sex to make sure it happens. That might sound less romantic, but it’s actually not – we build sexual tension during the day with flirty texts and touches. We’re both much happier now than we were when we let it happen spontaneously but less frequently.
Skyblossom October 4, 2018, 5:40 pm
I think the most important thing you can take into marriage is flexibility. You need to be compatible in major ways but also willing to meet changes that happen. There is no way you can lay out your entire life and agree on what you will do and what you will have and have the agreement last a lifetime. If you are compatible on the major issues you are probably in good shape going in but if you are fairly young when you get married you can still change on even the major issues. I’ve seen people go from never attending religious services to becoming very serious about it and considering it very important in their life. When they didn’t care it didn’t matter that they each came from different faith traditions but when one became religious it mattered a lot. The same can happen with finances and with whether you want kids and when you want them and how many to have if you do want them. It can happen with careers. The career you want might end up being soul sucking and you need a change or your job ends and you have to find a new direction or the career you wanted doesn’t make enough income for the life you want. You have to go into marriage knowing that what works for now might not be what works later.
Life also throws the unexpected at you. We weren’t expecting cancer. My husband’s dad died unexpectedly. He went to bed and didn’t get up in the morning. Our secondary infertility was unexpected and then the pregnancy with our daughter was unexpected. We were both in grad school when we got married and had no idea where we would end up living or working.
Being able to make joint decisions, as life happens, that work for both partners is critical.
Ange October 4, 2018, 5:50 pm
We were only together a year when we got engaged but we covered all the big stuff plenty of times and we’d basically been living together the whole time as well so we knew what we were in for. With him in defence the biggest challenge has been me, I’m frequently without work and struggling without friends and feeling like I’m missing out on family and all that stuff. We’ve moved interstate 6 times total in 5 years with him now living on the opposite end of the country so I’m alone here purely because I can’t give up another job in less than a year. I’ve also had a lot of pretty decent health challenges so that’s been fun. I guess the thing that’s helped is we have our main goals but we continually discuss the small stuff. If he was someone I didn’t feel I could talk to and didn’t know he’d have my back in among all this we’d be in significant trouble. You HAVE to have a partner you feel you can talk to about everything… unlike the forum OP.
dsmou October 6, 2018, 4:23 pm
We got married 9 months ago, we both worked before getting married. A couple of months into our marriage, he quit his job to go back to college to finish his postgraduation (we both discussed this before our wedding) and I am doing a part time job and planning to enter into a highly competitive, advanced training in my field. Money is extremely tight right now, but that never got between us. Moreover, my parents never approved of my husband, my mother constantly talks shit about him being unemployed (how will he provide for you?) whenever I used to visit her. But I partially cut her off now, because every visit ended up in raised voices and tears.
MaterialsGirl October 8, 2018, 3:49 am
Commenting late, but.. yes my marriage is exceeding my expectations. We just had a baby girl last Wednesday and RadioStar was truly truly fantastic birth partner. Like. Amazing. Doctors and nurses were super impressed at his coaching and thought it was our second kid. I seriously cannot stress enough how thankful I am that we are married. Plus he’s been great with making sure I’m taking care of myself and helping with breastfeeding (in the ways he can)
Dear Wendy October 8, 2018, 6:05 am
Yay, congrats on your baby girl!! Hope you’re healing well and getting a little rest when you can.
allathian October 8, 2018, 5:40 am
I think my husband and I discussed how we imagined our futures in a general way on our second or third date. For the first three years of our relationship, he lived in another city four hours away, but we spent weekends and vacations together, usually at my place, because his parents lived in the same city I did. His company had an office in my city too, so eventually he got a transfer here, although to get the transfer had to be headhunted for another job, which he was willing to turn down if he got the transfer.
Our lines of communication are open, so we talk a lot about both big and small issues. He makes more than I do, so while we have equal shares in our mortgage, he pays for more of the big things, like things for the house and cars. We have separate finances but a joint account for grocery shopping, he puts in a bit more than I do because of his larger income.
We have the same ideas on what to spend our money on, i.e. we drive ten year old cars because neither one of us wants to have a lot of money tied in our vehicles. Besides, my husband is a bit of a mechanic and enjoys fixing things, he rarely needs to take either of our cars for maintenance by a pro.
He spends about 100 days a year traveling on business, so when we’re on vacation we tend to stay at home. We’ll go on a short trip abroad in the summer or just travel in our own country, but no long haul flights (3 hours gets you anywhere in Europe except the Canary Islands) for either us or the kid.
I’m an ambivert, a bit on the introverted side and need a lot of time to recharge on my own. A week’s trip abroad would mean needing another week at home to recover from the sensory overload. Or at least a long weekend. He’s also fairly introverted so we’re good about giving each other the space we need. The big difference is that he recharges by running long distances, while I recharge on walks in the woods or on the couch, with just my phone and a game or two for company.
Both of us wanted at least one child. I was pretty certain about only wanting one. When we got together my husband said he’d like for any child to have at least one sibling, but when he saw the toll that taking care of our (very easily cared for and contented) baby took on me, he realized that maybe one was enough after all. If we’d met earlier things would probably have been different, but I was 33 when we met and 37 when our son was born. I strongly suspect I would have handled the lack of sleep much better in my mid-20s than I did in my late 30s. He’s always done at least his share of the parenting, even when our son was a baby he slept in the same room while I slept alone, because I’d wake up at the least sound. Even when he was working, he’d bring the baby to me for breastfeeding. I didn’t have enough milk so he’d heat up a bottle at night too…
We’re pretty much on the same page about household chores. Both of us cook and clean by turns, although in the summer my husband cooks more because he enjoys BBQ. I love the food but don’t want to cook it. The one who notices that the dishwasher needs to be emptied or a load of laundry needs washing, the house needs a good vacuum or the toilet bowl needs cleaning just does it, we don’t keep score. I do more in our yard (planting, weeding and pruning) although my husband usually mows the lawn.
We’re generally on the same page when it comes to raising our son, on politics and on our values and priorities, but with enough differences in smaller things to make things interesting.