Marriage is all about expectations and then meeting those expectations. Marriage is a mixture of social, family, and personal expectations all bundled together. Conflicting expectations often will break a marriage when two people don’t address conflicting expectations. Let’s support your marriage by understanding marriage expectations before you get into conflict.

A Question About Marriage Expectations

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 life. 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?

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Marriage Expectations

It’s easy to simplify what you think of marriage into a nice ideal cartoon in one’s mind.

The difference in expectation compared to reality is where couples discover the challenges of their marriage. Difference between two partner’s baselines is a widespread problem. Partners often suppress their differences at first, so it often takes years to discover their discrepancies between reality and internal expectations. For example, a person is thinking they are marrying a good person only to find they’re 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 the expectations of societies, friends & children. Marriage is often a vast melting pot of contradicting expectations. It creates challenges that make it hard to sort out your proper path. This is a common problem when people from different cultures (or religions) marry. The various 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.

Over time as you change, as your partner changes, what is required to maintain a healthily balanced relationship change. 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 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.  Allow your partner to always be uniquely themselves in life.

One trap of marriage is that over time a person may no longer see their partner as unique and separate. When we stop seeing the uniqueness of our partner we also take that person for granted in life.

So don’t let expectations nor routine take away your partner’s uniqueness over time.

When you see your partner as being unique: your marriage will always be fresh.


Trust in MarriageMarriage is a wonderful statement of unity. Marriage’s expectation contract is a form of trust that helps people ignore smaller relationship problems. A healthy marriage allows couples to release emotional problems that would break up non-married couples safely. 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 rebuilding trust. Broken trust allows all of the negative expectations of marriage to creep in. These negative expectations can destroy any chance of a healthy relationship. When you want to repair a marriage, you have first to release “all expectations”. Releasing old judgment allows you to make a fresh start to 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 in 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 in the trust, you can rest within and against relative to your partner.

Getting Married for the “Right” Reasons

I know people who get married for “all the right reasons.”

  • Because it’s expected of them
  • Because they want children
  • Because they don’t want to be alone
  • Because their family desires it
  • Because the other person is so beautiful
  • Society paints that’s the happy path

To get married for all the right reasons isn’t enough to make a marriage work. Marriage instead is a union that should let both partners grow into whatever they need to grow into over time. This is why so many marriages fail in the end. People change, and yet the marriage itself refuses to change for each person. In the end, something has to break.

Marriage is a third person in the relationship, and it’s so often the most unreasonable partner in the relationship. Understand that marriage is based upon expectations of society more than what will work for you! Anything based upon expectations of everyone else is a difficult relationship indeed to support!

If you want a marriage to last then let it be a beautiful evolving union. Don’t base marriage upon expectation, instead let it flow with you and your partner’s nature. A marriage might last one day it might last a lifetime, just make sure it supports you who are, otherwise whats the point in supporting a false expectation of life?

A Taoist Marriage is based upon both a smile (potential) and our changing nature. Let life change, let your relationship change with time to enjoy your partnership fully.

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 of trust is this: you cannot base trust in a relationship with 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 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 differences over time.

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A Marriage Based on 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. Trust allows each person in the marriage to see and act true to their essence rather than trying to maintain false stories and appearances of what others see in your relationship.

Therefore, marry with 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 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 they have doubts of trust, then how can a relationship honestly 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.

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Kindness – The Baseline of All Relationships

Read the original question a second time. If you look closely, you can see 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 to you.

You marry the person with whom you can be “kind”.

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Hi, I would not like to mention my name. I having a very similar crisis with my partner. I did the pleading begging clinging etc. Without knowing the actual reason my spouse is behaving the way he is behaving. Most of what I read I understand he is going thru MLC. Which even he doesn’t know He was very anxious but now that he couldn’t take it any longer he wants all the ties broken and moved ahead. I’m left behind. I need help on how can I help my spouse on this change constructively, build him and not break… Read more »

I am a Christian who has much love for a Taoist. She is active in her temple and over that past 8 months we have become very involved over the internet with each other and sharing the differences of our faith. I have read the Tao Te Ching and as a philosophy I agree with it. In many ways it coincides with what Jesus teaches, but not necessarily what the bible teaches. The whole concept about expectations is something I have adopted many years ago, as I feel the expectations can only lead to disappointment. Now I am faced with… Read more »

@Lottie: I am glad this article has been kind to you and helped.


Thanks so much for this, really helpful 🙂

it's impossible to have "no expectations." if we did that, we would be constantly surprised! we would be surprised that gravity is still working and that babies are still being born! trust is a kind of expectation, but the expectation is not a preconceived notion, it is born out of experience. you can't (or shouldn't!) trust someone you just met, if you did, that would be a preconceived notion. i think personal tao uses the term "expectation" to refer to preconceived notions, the kind of expectation that has no foundation in experience. if your partner has been faithful and trustworthy… Read more »

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