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   Home  > Articles

You're Not The Man/Woman I Married - section one, "Communication in Marriage". Part 10

By Norman & Ann Bales Of All About Families


  1. Can you identify changes that have taken place in your expectations, communication style, habits and behavior patterns since you got married?
  2. Which changes were positive and which ones were negative?
  3. How did you react to your spouse when you observed changes?

We will attempt to address those questions as we explore the changes that take place in marriage.

Change inevitably affects the marriage relationship.

We all enter marriage with certain expectations, hopes and dreams. Many of these dreams are reasonable and completely in line with God's Word. Problems arise when we have unreasonable or unscriptural desires, when our motives are self-centered, or when we develop strategies that are self-serving. Barbara Streisand once asked, "Why does a woman spend ten years trying to change her husband and then complain, 'you're not the man I married?'"

Here is a list common expectations among married couples?

  1. Marriage will meet my need for affection and sexual intimacy.
  2. Marriage will meet my need for companionship.
  3. Marriage will meet my need for family.
  4. Marriage will meet my need for conversation.
  5. Marriage will meet my need for financial security.
  6. Marriage will meet my need for social acceptance.
  7. Marriage will meet my need to leave my parents.
  8. Marriage will change my spouse and the undesirable characteristics will
  9. Marriage will allow me to continue all my relationships I had with my friends
    before marriage in exactly the same way, but I will have the added benefit of
    having a spouse to come home to when I finish doing things with my friends.
  10. Marriage will meet my need to feel important.
  11. Marriage will fulfill my desire to exercise authority over others.
  12. Marriage will eliminate all my insecurities and doubts.

What generally happens when we set out to change our partners?

There's a story in Greek mythology about a robber named Procrustes. Procrustes owned an iron bed. His guests were permitted to sleep in it. There was one slight problem. Procrustes expected his guests to fit his bed. If they were too short to fit the bed, he would have their bodies stretched until they fit it. If they were too tall to fit the bed, he cut their legs off so they would fit the bed. Obviously, you don't want to accept the hospitality of a man like Procrustes, even if he honors your Visa Card, gives you a fifty percent discount and offers a free Continental breakfast. Unfortunately husbands and wives often devise an imaginary Procrustean bed for their spouses. Shortly after they take the "Just Married" sign off the car, married couples attempt to alter their spouses to fit their own Procrustean ideals. Most of us are not compliant when that happens. Here are some responses that typically take place.

  1. Our efforts are met with stiff resistance.
  2. We become disappointed when we realize the changes we desired aren't taking place.
  3. We feel shortchanged in the relationship because things didn't turn out the way we thought they would.
  4. We become preoccupied with our partner's shortcomings.
  5. We long for the single life again.
  6. We distance ourselves from our partners.
  7. We begin a pattern of projection and blaming.
  8. We come to realize that our dreams and hopes for change were unrealistic.
  9. We start complaining and nagging.
  10. Irritating behaviors that we tolerated in courtship are now magnified in importance.

How can we conform to God's expectations for marriage?(See 1Corinthians 7:33-34; Philippians 2:1-4; 2 Corinthians 11:2).

  • Painful changes in marriage.

  • Disillusionment. Students of marriage dynamics almost universally conclude that most, if not all marriages pass through stages of disillusionment. Sometimes it happens on the honeymoon. It can even take place when couples are in their 70s and 80s.

  • Motivation. Some couples marry for the wrong reasons. Examples include marrying to get away from parents, marrying for a career advantage, marrying to overcome some kind of behavior failure, marrying to find someone who will give much needed approval. What should we do when we discover that our motives were not totally honorable when we married?(See Matthew 19:6; Romans12: 1-2).

  • Behavior. Destructive, sinful patterns of behavior often emerge. These include nagging criticism (Proverbs 21:1); uncontrolled anger (Proverbs 22:24), self-centeredness (Phil 2:1-4), rudeness (1 Corinthians 13:5).

"Changes - even those that are desired and chosen-are threatening. They require a couple to alter themselves or be altered, and that is scary." (Truman Esau. Making Marriage Work. p. 125).

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For the previous article in the series click here

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More Articles
- The Games People Play, "Communication in Marriage". Part 9
- You're Not The Man/Woman I Married - section two, "Communication in Marriage". Part 10:
- Strangers in Many Ways, "Communication in Marriage". Part 8
- The Procrustean Bed-Marriage Communication and Sexuality, "Communication in Marriage". Part 11

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