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The Truth About Expectations After Marriage

Jeff and Debbie are dating, and things are going very well. So well, in fact, that they are seriously discussing marriage. There’s just one thing. Debbie does a lot of volunteering with troubled teenagers. Her apartment has become a “home away from home” for some of the girls, and she wants that to continue after she’s married, as well. While Jeff admires Debbie’s volunteer work and her dedication to the teenagers she helps, he values the privacy of a home, and doesn’t want his to turn into a halfway house.

Jeff is sure that, once they’re married, Debbie will see how beautiful it is when a couple saves their time at home for each other and guards their privacy, and will curtail her “open-house” policy. Debbie, for her part, is sure that once she and Jeff are married, he will see how beautiful it is when a couple gives up some of their privacy in order to help those who are not as fortunate, and will be more than happy to adopt an “open-house” policy for her teenage friends. Jeff and Debbie get married. Four months later, they’re in counseling.

Why? Because they didn’t know the truth that could have saved them: Never get married expecting your partner to change. One of the major reasons people are unhappy after they get married is that they expect the person they are dating to change after marriage. Therefore, the most important question to ask yourself when you’re dating someone is: “Can I live with this person the way they are?” If the answer is no, then don’t get married. If there’s something that you don’t like about the person, something that you wish would change in the future, then you’d better ask yourself some serious questions because you’re setting yourself up for a potential mistake. People have to be accepted the way they are. If there is something about your dating partner that you dislike or disagree with, and the issue is an important one, realize that whatever it is it’s here to stay. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’ll be able to change them after you get married. That’s the mistake that Jeff and Debbie made, and that’s the reason why, just four months after a beautiful wedding, they found themselves in a marriage counselor’s office. Does that mean that you and your potential spouse must agree on absolutely everything? Of course not. But you do need to agree on the basics, on the important things that are going to make a difference in your life – things like values, lifestyle, religion, your ideas about home and family.

If the person you’re dating really seems to be the one for you except for one issue, then you can try to reach a compromise that both of you can live with. But if you don’t, and you disagree on major issues like these, then you’re setting the stage for major conflicts, which are obviously not conducive to a loving marriage. So remember the sentence that could save your life: Never get married expecting your partner to change.


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