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Unrealistic Expectations About Marriage

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From the forthcoming book:

Adultery Case Histories

Why People Cheat on Their Partners.

By

Othniel Seiden, MD & Jane L. Bilett, PhD

Chapter 1. Unrealistic expectations about marriage
Often infidelity is fueled by unfulfilled expectations. Romance novels, movies, TV shows, may give couples a false sense of what marriage is all about. They go into their relationship blinded by love and the joys of courtship, not realizing that after the honeymoon is over relationships require lots of work to maintain success.
Each partner has his or her own ideas of an ideal relationship with their own expectations and needs. Failure to clarify what each partner expects brings disappointment often leading to resentment. These two feelings can push someone to reach out to another person for fulfillment of their expectations and needs.

Monica T. - 27 – Preschool teacher - First marriage:
“We’ve been married three years now, and I guess it’s a miracle considering. A year ago I had an affair and my husband found out about it. Ours is his second marriage, and though he was really hurt by my stupidity and infidelity, he didn’t want another failed marriage and divorce.
“Ironically, his first wife left him because he had an affair, and I guess that’s what saved our marriage … his having gone through it from his side and getting insights most men wouldn’t have. Anyway, it was his idea for us to get counseling to try to save our marriage. I thank God every day for his maturity and forgiveness,
“I now know that my infidelity was due to my own immaturity. It wasn’t that I didn’t love him, but I thought maybe he didn’t love me anymore. I was just scarcely 24 when we married, and all I knew about marriage was what I read in romance novels and saw in movies. Hardly any of my friends were yet married, so I never had anyone to discuss marriage with … to know what it was all really about.
“Our first six or seven months were wonderful, but then things turned to routine. His job took a lot of his time and when he got a promotion, especially in the beginning, he had to spend more time at the bank, and at meetings. He also brought home a lot of work and worries. Suddenly the romance seemed to go out of our marriage … and I saw it as his loss of interest in me. I thought maybe he was falling out of love with me.
“Then it happened that I met a man through my work who started paying me a lot of attention, and he really excited me. It was almost like a courtship all over again, and it made me feel wanted again. Well, it didn’t take long before we were bedfellows. Our affair went on for about two months when Charles found out. Stupidly I accidently left e-mail on our home computer. It was the worst day of my life, but little did I realize it would turn out to be a blessing in disguise”

Charles T. – 31 – Banker – Second marriage:
“This is my second marriage, and in our second year I caught my wife of 3 years cheating. She fell into her affair because I neglected her and her need for affection and romance. My first marriage ended for the same reason that it didn’t live up to my romantic expectations. My first wife just wasn’t the romantically demonstrative type. We had totally different expectations of marriage. Then it was me that entered into an affair. That ended our marriage. She couldn’t forgive or forget.
“When I discovered Monica’s affair I was shocked and blindsided, but I knew I didn’t want to break up this marriage. At least, after we talked about her reasons and feelings, I could understand. That’s not to say I’ll ever forget what she did, but I certainly have been able to forgive her, and that’s what’s important.
“I now realize my part in her affair, and that it was not because she didn’t love me, but because she thought I didn’t love her. That’s not to say that she made the right decision to have an affair. Better she should have talked to me about her feelings. But because of my own errors in my first marriage I was able to understand her needs and my shortcomings.
“We’ve made a new start now, and I’m not letting my work get in the way of showing and giving her my affections. I’d have to say that because of her affair our marriage is far happier and stronger than before.”

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