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What to expect out of marriage?
One of the reasons for many of the marriages experiencing stress and failing these days is the lack of clear expectations. People enter into marriage without clear expectations; forget about knowing the expectations of the other person, they wouldn't know even their own expectations.

Some people are simple-minded and think that being spouses is as simple as being friends or roommates. Some expect the other person would create heaven on earth for them. Some assume they can work things out as they come along.

When the expectations are not clear, even silly issues can balloon into serious problems. Consider this real-life example. There are a boy and girl who got engaged in Hyderabad. Their marriage is set to happen in about 3 weeks and in between came the girl's birthday. The girl expected the boy to call and wish her a happy birthday and give a gift. This can be considered as a reasonable expectation. However, for whatsoever reason, that did not happen. It, then, took no time for things to get precipitated. Families on both sides are up in arms against each other, even before the wedding. How unfortunate?

In the olden times, there used to be customs that set expectations about various aspects of marriage. Customs used to provide a script for every stage of married life from proposal to engagement to wedding to giving birth to children, and even to get them married off and passing on the inheritance. Customs used to tell what the boy and girl, and the boy's family and the girl's family are supposed to do at each and every stage of married life. Anything more they could do for each other used to be the icing on the cake.

Customs vary from caste to caste, region to region, and religion to religion. People marrying within the same caste and from the same region and religion used to follow the same customs, and hence have same and clear expectations about marriage, and things used to work well. For example, in the olden times, birthday celebrations are not a big deal. Hence, customs do not say anything about boys or girls sending greetings to each other. If that Hyderabad couple followed customs, there would not have been this expectation on one side of the family that is not shared by the other side of the family. There would have been no scope for such an unfortunate resentment.

Inter-caste, inter-religion, and inter-region marriages are on the rise today. Modern times make it taboo to talk about caste or religion or culture. The boy and girl keep mum about them till the formal proceedings start, beginning with the 'proposal'. From then on, they get ticked off whenever their expectations are not met. If they have truly abandoned customs, there should not be any expectations at all. But where do these expectations come from? Little do people realize that many of the expectations come from the culture they grew up in. But they think and justify that their expectations are just a 'matter of common sense'. But when it comes to the expectation of other people, they don't apply the same logic.

There is a second source of expectations, besides customs, which is the individual personalities. Consider this real-life example. A boy and girl, who were classmates and knew each other for many years in Mumbai, got married. The girl is ambitious and career-oriented. The boy is family-oriented and contended with a normal lifestyle. Both were in good jobs in Mumbai. But then, the girl got a better job in Delhi. She wanted to uproot everything for the sake of the job. The boy was not happy about it. But acquiesced to his wife and went along. Then they had children. The girl used to keep herself so busy that she barely had any time to spend with the children. Her solution is to drop the children in a childcare center, all the time. The boy was not happy. He was even ready to take a less demanding job to spend more time with the children. The girl was very disappointed with it. She accused him of lacking energy and enthusiasm for life. And you can imagine where that marriage headed eventually.

To make marriages work and stay on the bright side, couples should know how to 1) articulate their own expectations 2) understand the expectations of the others, and 3) support each other in realizing those expectations, at every stage of married life no matter whether they are born out of the culture they grew up in or out of their own individual personalities.

Grihastha's mission is to help couples do just that. The Interactive Workshops by Marriage Gurus and Personal Guidance by Family Coaches, are designed with that goal in mind. We encourage everyone to take advantage of it and have a wonderful married life, just as expected.