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Every individual entering marriage has certain expectations in regards to family life. These expectations are formed under the influence of many factors -- parents of your future spouse, values, society, books, hearsay, your own considerations, etc. It's very imporant to sit down and dicuss what expectations both individuals have in regards to their future marriage, whether or not these expectations are realistic, and what must be done in case these expectations do not reflect reality. The word "expectation" hints at hope. Hope is defined by an expectation of something positive. Hope is necessary because it inspires and often supports us.

The following exercise will require some time and reflection. List ten examples of things you expect from your future spouse. These descriptions can be brief or exhaustive. For example, the husband may expect his wife to open the door for him when he comes back from work, to always stay at home and never work, and provide sex on demand. The wife may expect her husband to come with her to visit her parents, to be the family's spiritual leader, and to stay home on the weekends.

My expectations

What, in your opinion, does your significant other expect from you after marriage? Please list ten items.

Let's briefly talk about disappointments. No-one can avoid them because some of our expectations, hopes, and dreams never actualize. List three most painful experiences of disappointment and describe how you dealt with them.

Future married couples often have three expectations from their marriage. The young couple hopes that their marriage will be continous and never lead to divorce. Another expectation is that of fidelity. Future spouses expect that they will be faithful to one another. Clearly, infidelity should never be present in a Christian marriage. However, fidelity implies not only proper sexual behavior, but also proper conduct in other realms of the realtionship. For example, some men are not faithful to their wives in respect to work, giving priority to work rather than the wife. Some wives are not faithful to their husbands, caring for their mothers, the church, household chores, children, and others at the expense of their spouses. It's evident that giving priority to some other person or activity (except, of course, for Jesus Christ), you violate your marital responsibilities. Marriage requires fidelity. This means that you must be attuned to the needs of each other, support each other, and be close to each other both physically and emotionally.

Changes (expected ones, unexpected ones, unpleasant ones)

Married life entails constant changes. How can you adjust to them? Do you realize that even positive changes can disrupt spousal relationships? A person who enters mariage with a non-Christian and prays for many years for his or her spouse to accept Christ may suddenly discover that God answered their prayer and their spouse has been completely transformed. Nevertheless, they may be aggrieved. Why? An alcoholic unexpectedly ceases to drink and totally changes his lifestyle, which is precisely what his spouse has been praying for, but now she is bewildered. Why? Her passive, dependent husband begins to live honorably and to be involved in the home, yet his wife is somewhat dejected. Why?

Even when unwanted changes alter the behavior of a spouse, people must adjust to them. But when one of the spouses experiences positive changes, there is a violation of an equilibrium; it is for this reason that the spouse praying for positive changes suddenly realizes that he or she himself needs to change as well. It is necessary to adjust to the new individual and that can complicate the life of the couple. That, which brough grief to the family no longer exists, and it is necessary to adapt to the new changes.

A question might arise: "If he could change now, why did he not work on improving himself for such a long time and has forced me to live through all this?" Think about this when asking for changes. Remember: the best way to help someone close to you transform is to transform yourself. The person in question may see the positive changes in your life and be moved to work on their own life!

Write down how you wil react to the following situations which may be results of changes in your married life

1. Serious financial hardships.

2. Losing a good job.

3. The wife has to work because the husband is not seeking a job with enough enthusiasim or refuses to hold job he hates

4. Serious health issues of one of the spouses.

5. The necessity to rent a cheap apartment, after owning a good house.

6. The necessity to live in a rural area after living in the city.

7. The husband leaves a stable if not well-paying job in order to start his own business

8. The wife wants to work, even though there are three small children in the family.

9. A child goes against the will of his/her parents, constantly has conflicts with them, and refuses to go to church.

10. Unplanned pregnancy.

11. You discover that you cannot have biological children.

12. A friend starts to court your wife or flirt with your husband.

13. Family members of your spouse open show their disdain for you.

14. Your relatives express contempt for your spouse and put them down either openly or subtly.

15. Your house was burgled or your car stolen due to the carelessness of your spouse.

16. You fell in love with another person.

17. Your spouse is no longer interested in God and has left to the church to which you both belonged.

We cannot avoid disappointment and temptations, but our attitude towards them depends on our own selves. We may let our feelings lord over us, crush us, and even destroy our marriage. But we can also react differently -- endure the pain, try to understand why we have that pain, and then come up with a new plan or alternative. Read the following three excerpt from the Holy Scriptures and write down how, in your opinion, these Bible verses can help you accept disappointments and adapt to changes in your life. James 1:2-3; 1 Peter 1:6-7; James 1:12.

Concluding thoughts of your consultant

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