How Unrealistic Expectations Can Ruin Marriages

As a romantic at heart, ever since I started watching fairy tales and chick flicks, I dreamed of being swept off my feet. I wanted Prince Charming to whisk me away in a horse-drawn carriage and dance the night away in my slimming, glittery gown while staring deep into each other’s eyes. It became clear very quickly that my actual Prince Charming was a skinny band nerd, also known as my high school sweetheart.

This dark-haired, quiet boy who whisked me in his own way was the polar opposite of me. He laughs at people like me who love over-the-top romantic gestures, and I used to drool over them and pine for them. Now, after 7 years of marriage and a 1-year-old running around, I am beginning to see that holding on to an idealized idea of romance can quickly ruin a relationship between two polar opposite people.

The new, more realistic me now sees that my husband knows my love language and his romantic gestures are present but more subtle than an over-the-top person would understand and appreciate. He whispers “I love you” constantly. He smiles when I walk in a room. He always kisses my forehead before he leaves for work and always bear hugs me when he comes home. He takes me to get my favorite coffee without any prompting.

The old me would have missed this because I was too busy waiting for the horse-drawn carriage, the rose petal walkway, and the “I love you” written in blazing candles.

To anyone like the old me, anyone who holds too tightly to an idealized idea of romance, the New Me would like to say:

1. It’s important to show affection, but it is a two-way street. Write your spouse notes on the mirror, send a sweet “I love you text” message during the workday, and greet them when they arrive home (even if you feel too busy). Sometimes we pine over what we do not have without realizing we are not showing affection or going out of our way for our spouse, either. Pining is unhealthy; make things happen on your end! The ripple effects will change things. 

2. Talk about your love language. In marriage, communication is key! You must take time to talk about and understand one another’s love language. One spouse may crave quality time together and the other may have a dire need for acts of service, like vacuuming for your wife before she arrives home from work! We are all wired differently.

3. Finally, it is important to be realistic. I am not settling into my marriage just because my husband does not have a horse-drawn carriage ready for me and my name written in candles every time I arrive home. That is not reality! Reality is that we have a crazy one-year-old who consumes much of our time together, so we must be intentional to pursue one another and to spend quality time together. We must be intentional to notice one another and to go out of our way to show the other how much we love and appreciate them. To be intentional, set realistic expectations and to communicate are vital lessons for anyone in a dating or marriage relationship.

In any dating or marriage relationship:

  • Be intentional.
  • Set realistic expectations. Don’t look to romantic novels for advice.
  • Communicate … and communicate some more.
  • Read the Bible together.
  • Hold hands just because.
  • Let Jesus be your guide — not what society says is the “norm.”

Photo Copyright: sasamihajlovic / 123RF Stock Photo


Lizzy Christian is a toddler-chasing, coffee-sipping, firefighter wife, and vacuuming enthusiast who has a passion for writing. She is the founder of the Fire Wife Chronicles, which is geared on topics of motherhood, marriage, first responder family life & faith/hope. Lizzy received her undergrad in Crisis Counseling from Liberty University and her Master of Arts in Human Services Counseling – Crisis Response and Trauma from Liberty University’s Graduate School. She is a two-time NYC Marathon finisher and avid runner, and former School Counselor and Athletic Director. Lizzy married her high school sweetheart and together they have a son and a daughter. Visit for additional resources and upcoming projects.

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