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Unrealistic Expectations: Set up to take a fall, the distance between one’s expectations and reality

It may be no surprise that seriously dating and engaged couples are more prone to “agree” or “strongly agree” with statements such as “We are as happy as any couple could possibly be!”

Almost intoxicated by love, engaged couples are often known for being infatuated with one another. They tend to be confident that they’ll never have problems or that existing problems will just fade away with time, they’ll never question their love, never experience a drop in romance, and already know everything there is to know about their partner. They truly are love struck.

The Problem with Unrealistic Expectations 
While the phenomenon of being love struck is quite normal, it can also be a setup when experienced in extremes. There are several problems associated with unrealistic marriage expectations.

    Set up to take a fall. It has been said that the distance between one’s expectations and the reality experienced is equal to the hurt and disappointment one will feel. It is not a matter of “if” but “when” reality will set in for couples. Passionate romance always fades or at least changes to something less intense, and all couples face challenges and problems at some point in their marriage.

Marriage Expectations is a challenging, yet fun area of discussion for premarital couples, however whilst these couples often have a lot to discuss as they prepare for marriage, healthy dialogue about expectations is critical.

The key question for exploration for engaged couples is:

  • “My partner is the only person with whom I could have a happy marriage.”

Source: Peter Larson, Ph.D.


  • Olson, D. H. (2004). PREPARE/ENRICH Counselor’s Manual. Minneapolis: Life Innovations.
  • Slater, L. (2006). True Love. National Geographic. February, 32-49.

By Shane Smith, Director PREPARE-ENRICH, Relationship Educator and Mediator, President, Marriage and Relationship Educators Association of Australia

Read on for various resources to assist you at this time. Finally, please let us know how you are going in these challenging times. 

For more information on the virus and the steps that can be taken to minimise its impact, visit the Australian Government Department of Health website.

Marriage and Relationship Education is a learning opportunity, much like you would do in any other important life event. Check out the video for couples on YouTube:

Tune in next week for more discussion about relationships and mental health. 

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