A student asked this question about marriage:
I’ve been trying to focus on “no expectations”. What about marriage? If you’re trying to live life without expectations, how can you ever get married? Isn’t that expecting the person to stay with you? It’s expecting loyalty and devotion and sharing permanently. By getting married, you’re obligating the other person to care for you for the rest of their life. That kind of obligation brings so much comfort… Expectation seemingly gives a person something solid to rely on and believe in. It’s hard to turn that down.
How can you have comfort and no expectations?
How can you feel safe in a marriage without expecting certain things?
It’s easy to simplify what you think of marriage into a nice ideal cartoon in one’s mind.
The difference of expectation compared to reality is where couples discover the challenges of their marriage. This is a very common problem and it often takes years to discover the discrepancies between reality and internal expectations. For example, a person thinking they are marrying a good person person only to discover over time they are married to someone with a dark side.
“Married” individuals do act differently from when they were a single person, for many reasons. Often, after the marriage occurs, partners can release stories they were hiding behind. People shift from being an “individual” to becoming the “couple” with all the social obligations that the marriage creates. A marriage mixes together the expectations of societies, friends & children. This creates a huge melting pot of contradicting expectations. It creates challenges that makes it hard to sort out your own proper path. This is a common problem when people from different cultures (or religions) marry. The different cultural / religious expectations from the marriage change the individuals so much that … both people can become unhappy.
What happens when you don’t drop your expectations of what marriage means? Then time erodes your relationship.
As you change, as your partner changes, what is required to maintain a healthy balanced relationship changes. The true source of most problems comes out from expectations of the marriage not changing with time. This ironically forms the anvil against which the relationship will break itself over time. Even worse are the situations where people stay in their marriage at all costs. These very expectations end up breaking people to the point where the marriage literally kills them from stress and unhappiness.
I have helped guide many people through the traps of false expectations that are often created in a marriage. If you want to have a relationship that truly lasts, drop expectations that wear you down. Instead change over time with your partner.
Marriage is a wonderful statement of unity. It is powerful and binding in such a way that it helps people ignore smaller problems. A healthy marriage allows couples to safely release emotional problems that would break up non-married couples. This is because, in a healthy marriage, the trust of your partner is enough to help you release problems. True trust gives a person freedom to explore life and options which helps you change and grow over time.
Often the most significant issue in repairing a broken marriage is repairing broken trust. Once you have broken trust, this allows all of the negative expectations of marriage to creep in. These negative expectations can destroy any chance you have of a healthy relationship. This is why when you want to repair a marriage, you have to first release “all expectations”. This allows you to make a fresh start so a new trust relationship can form.
Don’t mistake trust as just another form of expectation or judgment.
Rather trust represents the faith you place into your partner.
What kind of obligation brings so much comfort?
It isn’t an obligation or an expectation that brings comfort. It’s the trust, the faith under the trust, you can rest within and against relative to your partner.
Trust and Marriage
A healthy relationship is based on trust, not on expectations.
To base trust on expectations is a very, very bad move. If you base your trust on expectations, I would always place money on any relationship failing over the long term.
Trust is based on heart, on intuition, on actions, on how you treat each other.
Another aspect about trust is this: you cannot base trust in a relationship on only blind faith. Trust must be grown and maintained with healthy communication and actions between partners over time. To only have blind faith is to release all the little actions that actually maintain a healthy relationship, which in turn helps keeps trust strong. Trust is an active process requiring paced interpersonal re-connection between you and your partner. Blind faith is inactive and subject to erosion from our personal differences over time.
A Marriage Based in Kindness:
Trust is the important baseline in marriage. In having trust you can then expand and act with complete kindness. You can feel safe to open up fully with another. This allows each person in marriage to see and act truly to their essence rather than trying to maintain false stories of what a “relationship” should look like.
Therefore, marry in kindness and love. For a marriage kindness translates into meaning: acting and balancing against each other’s “essence.”
Love is helping each other grow over time. Remember that both people in a relationship are still discovering the nature of their essence. In marriage, you are intermixing and doing this together at times while also taking personal time to work on your own essence.
Since marriage is a statement of trust, if you can’t trust your own heart, then how can your relationship work? If you cannot be kind or you cannot live relative to your essence, then how can a marriage work? If the person you want to marry cannot be kind to you or if has doubts of trust, then how can a relationship truly work over time? Never marry into a situation where the baseline of kindness or trust isn’t there in the first place!
Many relationships fail before they even begin as they weren’t rooted in a deeper shared kindness.
When the kindness is over, any relationship is over. Studies have been completed where the researchers were able to tell with unerring accuracy if a marriage would work or not. It all came down to: Kindness.
The Baseline of All Relationships
Read the original question again. If you look closely, you can see actually it answers itself!
That kind of obligation brings so much comfort…
Now flip it around:
That obligation of kindness brings so much comfort…
In your heart, you already were dancing around the truth. My answer now is to encourage you to take the time to discover what kindness means for you.
You marry the person you can be “kind” with.
Discover you don’t have to be alone, in figuring out how to improve your relationship.