From a young age, boys and girls are programmed to believe that marriage leads to ‘happily ever after.’ And in the age of social media, not only do we have unrealistic expectations of ourselves, many people have unrealistic expectations from their relationships as well.
We see the flowers and date nights that couples share but we don’t see the fights and compromises. When we’re constantly bombarded with these romantic notions of marriage, where couples are best friends and no one cries, it’s hard not to compare relationships to the ones we see on Instagram and Facebook.
So it should come as no surprise that at the beginning of my marriage, I expected a lot from my husband. Not only did I expect a life-long partner and lover, I expected my husband to be my best friend in life, a caregiver in times of sickness, a teammate to raise children with, a mentor in times of confusion, an assistant during the hectic times, an ally during times of distress and so much more. And if that wasn’t enough, I expected the finer things in life from him, too – to celebrate and enjoy my birthdays, to surprise me with trips on our anniversary, and in all honesty, spoil me rotten.
But my expectations were much higher than anything emotional I was given in return. It left me feeling defeated and unfulfilled until I made a few good friends.
I’m not talking about those acquaintance-type friends who you see every now a then and promise to catch up with.
I’m also not talking about those fake friends that just agree with what you say and make you feel worse by telling you to “leave him” or “you deserve better.”
I mean that I made some beautiful, honest, full-of-life friends who wanted the best for me and told me the hard truth. They told me that my expectations were much too high and quite frankly, extremely unfair not just to my husband, but even to myself. My friends made me realize that one person couldn’t, and shouldn’t, replace every relationship in my life.
My friends became my lifeline.
I was able to vent to them when things went wrong or when I was upset, without the fear of judgment. It was so refreshing to know that they wouldn’t tell me how bad my husband was and how much better I was than him because, in all honesty, those are the types of words that can cause ill feelings in a relationship or break up a marriage. Instead, they helped me understand my own faults and guided me when my relationship faltered.
My friends were able to help me because they didn’t add fuel to the fire. Instead, they helped me understand myself and manage my expectations. And because of them, I was able to go back to my husband with a cool head and an awareness of my own shortcomings, instead of treating him like a punching bag with my pent up frustrations.
If you are in a circle that is constantly putting down your spouse or telling you how much better you are, then I think it’s time for a new circle. Because no one is perfect and any relationship requires understanding and compromise. And remember, it’s better to have one good friend than five fake friends.
Of course, this does not apply to an abusive relationship, which is a whole different issue and does require good friends or family to help you leave. But if your husband or partner is an overall good person, then you need people in your life who help you see that in times of anger and confusion.
I think when people lose themselves, a little hope and a few good friends can change that.
My friends saved my marriage. Those are the types of positive relationships we need in our lives.