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The One Thing That Ruined My Marriage Forever

Photograph by Twenty20

I met my ex-husband when we were in our carefree early 20s. He was still in college and I could still drink like a college girl. We didn't have a mortgage. We didn't have kids. What we had was lots of fun with little responsibility.

As life moved forward, we bought a house, made a baby, bought a bigger house and had two more kids, back to back. Life was still fun, but we changed and became more serious. Before I knew it, I had zero energy left for my husband, but his expectations for fun and sex were still the same. I remember my husband saying, "Where is that fun girl I met so long ago, who used to work the room?"

I’ve thought about why my marriage ended every single day since my husband and I split last year. I've wondered why the kids and I weren’t enough for him, and why he didn't feel fulfilled.

I’ve had a year and a half to think. Although I realize there are two sides to every story, there's one thing that is true for both us: My ex-husband and I had unrealistic expectations of each other.

I can now look back and see that's what broke us.

Yes, having three kids close together was hard. And, sure, we both have traits that drove each other crazy. But what really contributed to our downfall was disappointment and anger. We'd both painted a picture in our minds of how we thought things should be and when they didn't turn out that way, we were deeply hurt.

I know we talked, but I can see now we both had expectations of each other the other knew nothing about. We had expectations of what our married life would be like. We had expectations of what we thought it would be like after we had kids. Instead of talking about what we needed, what we hoped would happen and then adjusting or making compromises, we carried on with our days and felt disappointed because we expected the other to read our mind. And we didn’t even know we were doing this.

Expectations play a huge role in every relationship, especially marriage.

It’s so easy to have a picture in your mind about how you think your day, your week or your life is supposed to look. It’s just as easy to feel hurt or disappointed when you have not communicated your thoughts or hopes with your partner.

Of course, certain things should be a given. I expected my husband to be faithful and never put his hands on me in an aggressive manner. We didn't badmouth each other while the other was sitting right next to us. We also assumed we'd communicate if something was bothering us. Only we didn't. We wanted the other to read our mind. Before we knew it, instead of talking about it, we were going for the jugular and we'd both feel attacked. It was a vicious cycle we couldn't get out of.

I’m not sure if transparency would have saved my marriage. Sometimes two people just aren’t meant to be together and that’s OK. But, I can honestly say communicating more would have helped the both of us slow down and try to understand each other instead of pointing fingers.

I know I’m not alone in feeling frustrated. I’ve talked to many women who say they wish their husband did or knew certain things without having to be prompted.

But the thing is, our husbands are not mind readers. They don’t know what’s going through our heads if we don’t let them know. And even when we do, we may have to repeat ourselves. Even though I told my husband time and time again to please empty the trash when it was full, I knew I’d have to say it again. And he needed to hear many times that I didn’t enjoy having sex on Friday nights because I was spent from the week.

I've learned that expectations play a huge role in every relationship, especially marriage. At the end of the day, expectations are what irreparably broke mine.

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