Recently I met with a bride and groom who were planning on getting married and came to me as someone who could possibly officiate the wedding ceremony. Because as a Cantor, that’s one of the things that I do - I officiate wedding ceremonies for Jewish brides and grooms.
This bride and groom said that they really wanted to manage their expectations and that they should be realistic with their relationship expectations.
I wasn’t expecting them to say that but I thought about it for a moment and then shared with them that romance is wonderful and seeing the best in your partner is a sure way to maintain love and intimacy. But you are going to have years with your spouse, so you need to be able to except some imperfections. In the first throes of passion, the object of our romantic focus may seem perfect but then we discover their 'feet of clay'. At this point, for the marriage to last we need to see beyond personal weaknesses and foibles - after all, no one is perfect. All marriages need work sometimes; expecting it all to be effortless or that it 'should' always be perfect creates disappointment (as unrealistic expectations always do).
Idealize your partner, by all means - but remember they are human. End it goes beyond saying oh my wife burnt the brussels sprouts or my husband forgot to take out the garbage because those seems so cliché in mundane.
There will be other discussions or even call them fights where we perhaps expect things to go a certain way but they were in a completely different direction and we feel disappointed. You could lash out and engage in verbal combat or you can accept that things are not going to be the way that you expect them to be.
The bride and groom that I spoke to really enjoyed having this conversation about managing expectations. They thought that coming to a Cantor was only going to be speaking about the different parts of the wedding ceremony and the different traditions but they really enjoyed having a conversation, a holistic conversation about what to expect in a marriage and how to set the marriage up for success.
When a recent bride and groom I married calked me with a problem that the wife was using her iPhone too much at the dinner table according to the husband, instead of harboring resentment and letting it fester and boil I simply suggested that they have a conversation about being more mindful and putting their phones down during the dinner meal and forgetting about work and concentrating on each other and having a great conversation and focusing on each other. And they have been doing that successfully. And the bride and groom that I shared that with were so happy to hear that because it’s a real life example of how they can stack the deck in their favor for a successful marriage. That’s what couples get when they come to me to explore me officiating at their Jewish wedding ceremony.