(from the forthcoming book “Dove Notes”)
Now this may be controversial, but I’m going to make the bold assertion that there are very few things more damaging to long term relationships than unspoken expectations (I call them The Ewwies as in, “The U.E’s”). These Ewwies come about when communication is relegated to an afterthought instead of a priority in the relationship.
So what could be worse, you ask?
Well, “worse” would be people erroneously assuming these unspoken expectations will somehow miraculously be met once they get married. It’s almost as if they believe marriage is some Magic Pill that will communicate all of their hidden desires and make all of their relationship issues go away. Unfortunately, it’s a recipe for disaster if there ever was one.
Just recently a friend told me that he’ll be getting married in six weeks. I’m sure he noticed my facial expression, which was an unmistakable combination of shock and concern mixed with that pain stricken face you make when you swallow something hard. I quickly caught myself and smiled. Although it certainly seems kind of rushed to me, I do realize it’s different for everyone. I mean, I’m all for marrying when the time is right. But to avoid the Ewwies I think it’s critical that some basic expectations are covered before walking down the aisle. So I just encouraged him to make sure he’s tackled some of the big topics with his soon-to-be wife, like:
- Children (how many, if at all)
- Child Rearing (spanking/discipline, education, and nutrition)
- Finances (separate or joint accounts, who pays what)
- Religion (Protestant, Jewish, Agnostic, Wiccan, Catholic?)
Disagreements in any of these critical areas can often become deal-breakers in a relationship. And failing to address them before marriage only serves to exacerbate the agony of the Ewwies. In the end, I’ve found that some of the best marriages are the ones with strong foundations built on effective communication… and successful avoidance of the Ewwies. 😉