Let’s face it. At the beginning of a romance you are riding high. Your partner is the center of your universe and you’re the center of his. He is the source of your happiness; he is everything you need for companionship—he is everything you need, period. Your excitement and passion know no bounds. You are the focus of his attention and he is the focus of yours. You’re in love.
But this kind of intensity cannot last forever. At some point the fervor of your romance settles down and reality sets in. Your partner may still be the center of your universe, but he’s not the only one in your orbit—your boss, your friends, your family, your co-workers—all are important. And if your partner is the sole source of your happiness, that kind of responsibility can be a heavy burden and unhealthy for both of you in the long term.
If you expect your partner to be constantly attentive to only you, you will be disappointed. So what expectations are realistic when the intensity of romantic love settles into a mature, long-lasting relationship?
Expect Commitment. While both of you will expand your universe to include others and activities that exclude your spouse, you should expect an absolute commitment to your marriage and the long-term relationship ahead of you. The commitment to your marriage is paramount.
Expect Respect. A relationship without mutual respect will falter. Surely your spouse will do things and say things you’d rather he didn’t, but overall, you respect his integrity, his values, his words and actions. You know him to be the kind of man you want to align yourself with or you wouldn’t have married him. And he respects you the same way.
Expect Affection. Both verbal and physical. Usually sex is intense at the beginning of a relationship and eventually cools down a bit. But good sex, although possibly less frequent, is still important. So is physical touching—hugging, holding hands, a shoulder rub. And so is verbal affection. A heartfelt “I love you” at the right moment can go a long way to enhance your relationship.
Expect Generosity. You are here for each other. When you and your spouse have a generosity of spirit you expect to give more than you receive. You have compassion for each other. You empathize and support one another emotionally. You respect each other’s feelings. Your spouse is on your side and you’re on his side.
Expect Quality Time. You married him because you like being with him—don’t let life interfere so much that you don’t get to have fun together. Yes, you each have other time commitments, and work, kids and all sorts of obligations are important to attend to. But don’t forget to make time to laugh and enjoy each other’s company.
Expect Honest Communication. It’s not easy to lay your hopes and dreams bare—to share your inner most thoughts. But open communication with your spouse is critical to a good relationship. As your needs and thoughts change over time, your spouse will need an update. And you’ll need to understand his hopes and dreams so you can accommodate each other to fulfill your greatest potential as individuals and a couple.
Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: https://nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact