You are so lucky.
So, so lucky.
Because you grew up in a house where your parents loved one another, flowers bloomed year ’round in front of your white picket fence, and everyone in the home – including the dog! – was supported in their quest to achieve their dreams.
You’ve got life made! And marriage? Phew! No problem. With the great example of your parents you’ll be experiencing hiccoughs when it comes to problems!
Well… perhaps. Or perhaps not.
When we come from a “solid” background maritally we still hit some bumps when it comes to establishing our own family unit.
1. Leave and Cleave. When the family life is full of discord it’s no problem to hit the road asap. You branch out, try new things, look for someone who is different from your past. BUT… when you have an awesome family you question whether your spouse can possibly live up to your expectations. When they reveal a wart, Oh my!, it’s the end of the world! I don’t have this all figured out, but I know it’s important to Leave your family and Cleave to your spouse – and it’s harder to do this when you don’t have familial angst motivating you to go.
2. Identify the Expectations. You know who has always taken the garbage out in our house? Lizard. Always. I think it’s part of his expectation as well, but we have never questioned the garbage removal – it’s his. Now, what about the truly stinky stuff? The freezer that broke and left rotting food for several days before we caught it? I think it’s still him.
Wanna know why?
My dad fell out of a tree when he was a child and hit his head. From that point forward his sense of smell was severely compromised. He can’t smell much of anything… my mom has a sniffer like a bloodhound. My entire life, anything with an odor associated with it my dad handled.
So now, anytime there’s a smelly problem in our house, whether it be a sink of dishes that turned bad, a diaper that’s a little odorific… anything… I automatically assume Lizard will do it.
These ingrained expectations are present all over your relationship and can really trip you up if you don’t identify them. Figure out if your spouse wants that expectation (maybe they don’t want to handle all the bill paying, even though that’s what you expect… maybe they love to cook and you aren’t letting them… who knows?!).
3. Don’t idolize your parents. Some friends, now married 30+ years, laugh about the first year of their marriage. They had a stove fire and she wanted to call her dad to put it out. Her husband was standing in the kitchen and she called her dad – who was 35 minutes away from their home!
Sometimes when your parents had their act together you idolize them. Recognize they are awesome, helpful and have their acts together – but it’s now your turn to take on the baton and do something special and amazing… with your spouse.
4. Keep your mouth shut. When problems loom in your marriage (and they will!) your parents are likely the worst place to seek advice. It’s not that they don’t have excellent perspectives… they do! But their loyalties are set on you and it can cause a great deal of distress if they become your marital counselors. Find another couple to talk to… find a friend… and give your parents the highlights instead of the play-by-play.
Final thoughts, regardless of whether your parents were awesome or awful… that’s their life. Not yours.
Walk through life with your spouse day-by-day and create your own family culture. Choose what’s important to you both and write the “10 Commandments” of your home. We each bring different cultures into marriage that can’t be replicated, so be thoughtful and figure out how to blend your lives into beauty.
And that’s all I have to say about that.
What do you think about the expectations we bring into marriage?