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What is your idea of the perfect marriage? Do you envision a young couple walking along the beach at sunset holding hands? Do you picture your two favorite movie stars relaxing on a yacht in the Mediterranean? Do you picture a mom and a dad standing by the barbecue laughing together with a bunch of kids running around? Or do you imagine an older couple whose eyes still sparkle when they look at each other?
You may have a picture in your mind of what a relationship should be like. This image might be based on Hollywood movies, which can make your relationship seem dull by comparison. Or perhaps you read a book about a fiery romance and see your own partner as inadequate. You may also use other couples as role models, even though you know nothing about their private lives. You might aspire to these fantasy relationships, only to be disappointed when your partner doesn't measure up to your picture of the perfect relationship.
So what is a perfect marriage if it's not the fantasy image you've always thought it was? There are answers to this question, and we will provide them throughout this book. But you can start creating a perfect marriage right now by forgetting about your fantasies of the ideal relationship. You will be taking the first step toward becoming closer to your partner. These fantasies keep you stuck in the trap of pining away for a dreamlike partner who does not exist. It's very important to understand that a perfect marriage is not like the Hollywood image you see paraded in front of you every day.
Unrealistic expectations of your spouse can keep you from fully appreciating your partner. If you're always thinking about what your spouse is not, how will you find the time and energy to notice his or her wonderful qualities? Unrealistic expectations are a less extreme version of the movie fantasies we just talked about.
Don't try to compare your mate to a character in a Hollywood movie. Those people aren't real! When the film's over, you have to cook dinner, pay the bills, and maybe put the kids to bed. Movie characters never have to face life's daily challenges.
The following are some common statements from people who have unrealistic expectations of their spouse:
“I wish my spouse were more handsome or beautiful.”
“I wish my spouse were wealthy.”
“I wish my spouse had unlimited time to spend with me.”
“I wish my spouse liked the same things that I do.”
“I wish my spouse agreed with me about everything.”
The sooner you accept the fact that your spouse isn't perfect, the sooner you will be able to have an extraordinary marriage. Remember, you don't want your spouse to expect perfection from you, either.
If you want to have a fulfilling relationship, you must give up your unrealistic expectations of your partner. A spouse is usually not as handsome or beautiful as a movie star, or as wealthy. A realistic marriage involves two people with different opinions and different tastes, as well as different obligations outside of the relationship. Your differences will add to+B3 the richness of your partnership if you let them.
One of the best ways to get beyond your unrealistic expectations of your spouse is to focus on his or her good qualities. The following questions will help you bring out the best in your relationship.