SGR 013 | When Marriage Doesn’t Feel Like A Fairy-Tale


Think back…

When you first started dating, it was all romantic dinners, date nights, long walks, and longer conversations.

There was passion and intimacy. You were dreaming of your future and couldn’t wait to build an amazing life together.

Fast forward to today:

You go to work, you come home, have dinner, do the dishes, and go to bed. You’ve settled into daily life and it’s not exactly the rose-petal-covered-bedspread and wine-bar-hopping you dreamed of.

Life has become more about paying bills, shuttling the kids around, cleaning the garage, and other obligations… this is not the feel-good, butterflies-in-your-stomach lifestyle you signed up for!

For many couples, marriage doesn’t feel like the fairy-tale they dreamed of.

You may feel disappointed.

You may think your partner changed.

You may wonder if you married the right person.

The good news:

Marriage is not supposed to feel like dating.

It can feel just as good - if not better - but in a different way. Setting realistic, shared expectations can allow you to feel excited in your present relationship, as it is.

Focusing on gratitude for what you already have and letting go of the “shoulds” can make a huge difference in how your relationship feels over all.

This week we are talking about what happens when your relationship doesn’t feel how you expected it to and what you can do to make it feel great right now. We’ll cover:

  • Common expectations vs. common realities in a marriage
  • If my marriage doesn’t feel how I expected it to, does that mean it isn’t working?
  • How the “shoulds” get in the way of your happiness
  • How to appreciate what you have now
  • How to create new realistic expectations for your relationship

We also made a great bonus for you - The Co-Creation of Realistic Expectations Worksheet - to help you collaborate with your partner on a vision of what you want your relationship to be and feel like.



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Show Notes:

SGR 002: Getting Back to the Honeymoon Phase - One Habit at a Time
SGR 005: How to Win a Fight
SGR 006: How to Get Your Partner to Say Yes
SGR 007: Why We Fight Over Who is Doing the Dishes (And How Not To)
SGR 009: Why Happy is Overrated
SGR 012: How to Agree to Disagree

Short on time? Here’s a list of today’s topics and when to listen:

Common expectations vs. common realities - 3:03
“Marriage should be just like dating” - 3:22
“My partner will take care of me” - 5:42
“We will always agree on everything” - 6:46
“My vision should also be my partner’s vision” - 7:24
“I think my partner should know my needs” - 8:40
“Your spouse is not a psychic” - 9:53
“We will never have external stressors” - 13:57
Non-negotiables - 16:55
Negative sentiment override - 18:54
Different expectations - 20:57
Shoulds - 22:07
The Five Love Languages - 26:02
How to let go of contingencies and “shoulds” - 31:10
Gratitude journaling - 31:36
Process-based compliments - 34:09
Focus on small stuff - 35:23
How to create a new set of expectations - 37:55
Meredith + Marina’s takeaways - 42:29


Meredith: Hey there, and welcome to episode thirteen of the Simply Great Relationships podcast. We’re so glad you could join us today. I’m Meredith Silversmith and this is Marina Voron. And today, we are talking about “What to do when married life doesn’t feel like you thought it would”. I feel like this is something that comes up a lot with couples I see so I’m excited to talk about it. We’re gonna be covering common expectations versus common realities, does this mean our marriage isn’t working, how the “shoulds” get in the way of happiness, how to appreciate what you have now, and how to create new realistic expectations for your relationship.

Marina: That’s really, really important. That’s super valuable.

Meredith: Yeah! I think you’re gonna hear the words realistic and reality many times during this episode. Be sure to stay with us ‘til the very end because we’ve got a great bonus for you and we’re gonna tell you how to get it.

Marina: So, let’s jump in and start talking about what are some really common expectations and like almost myths versus what are common realities. What does marriage and good marriage actually look like? I think, one of my favorites when I hear it that I really love to debunk is when I see couples that are recently married and are like “Marriage should be just like dating!” which I think really sets your marriage up for failure. And, you know, when we use the word marriage, I’m using that also like a long term committed relationship here. We’re not saying like exclusively a few have made vows and had a ceremony. Marriage, we’re kind of using interchangeably with a long lasting committed relationship but marriage is obviously more commitment, higher stakes than dating. The goal of dating is courtship. The goal of dating is to show your peacock feathers, right? It’s to have fun, get to know each other, go on dinner dates, go and do all these romantic things. It’s great. I love dating but that’s not what your day-to-day marriage is gonna look like and to say that’s what I want it to look like is setting it up for failure.

Meredith: Yeah! And I think that dating is a bit of a highlight reel. Especially before you live together so for me, I know I always ask couples that I see for sort of a timeline when they started dating, if they’re married, when they got married, but I always ask when they moved in because living together is the really big turning point. That’s the transition point, so dating before you live together, it’s a bit of the highlight reel whereas being married or choosing to live together, that’s when you’re building a life together. Your goal is to create a long-standing partnership with goals and values, building a family for some people and it’s a very different goal so marriage cannot feel like dating all the time.

Marina: Sometimes they can and sometimes it really should but it can’t feel like dating all the time and to have all those expectations. Unrealistic. Myth.

Meredith: Yeah. Myth. Debunked.

Marina: The next one is another one that I love to debunk a lot is “My partner will take care of me”.

Meredith: Mhmm! No! No!

Marina: Not your partner’s job!

Meredith: Not their job! We need to be supportive of one another and be there to listen and to offer advice when asked and to be a shoulder to cry on and be someone to have fun with but it’s not your partner’s job to solve or manage your problem.

Marina: Mhmm! And it’s also, when there’s this notion of my partner takes care of me, I always think of a relationship, we talked about this in a couple of previous episode, going from two equals to almost like a parent-child dynamics. Going from sexy to not sexy. So, another one debunked for you.

Meredith: Mhmm! This one actually relates a lot to last week’s episode, number twelve, “We will always agree on everything”. Just so not the case like we talked about last week. We’re two different people. We’re two different backgrounds. Grew up in two different families. It is impossible to agree on everything and it’s not necessary! You don’t have to agree on everything to have a good or a great, healthy relationship! You just have to know how to manage it! So, if you didn’t listen to last week’s episode, episode twelve on “How to agree to disagree”, definitely go back and check that one out! Debunked!

Marina: Another one is “My vision should also be my partner’s vision”. “So, my vision of where we should live, where our kids should go to school, how our relationship should feel. They should just know and it should also be their vision”.

Meredith: No! Not a thing.

Marina: You’re two different people. You have two different visions and they don’t have to be the same! Richness is in the variety. The key is to learn what each other’s visions are. If you never share your vision, you’re hiding a big part of yourself from your partner. So, learning each other’s visions and working together as opposed to trying to pull your partner and being a lawyer saying like “No! Here are my points as to why my vision is a correct vision!”, working together, you can amalgamate and ameliorate your two visions into something that’s unique and truly your own as a couple.

Meredith: Yeah, definitely! And this one sort of ties into that. This is my favorite of all time. “I think my partner should know my needs, wants and desires at all times and meet them”.

Marina: Yup! I think it’s only children. This is one that resonates with us. I’m definitely a guilty party here.

Meredith: Yup! It has taken a long time. Tom and I have been together for twelve years. So it took years to move out of that space! To really, genuinely move out of that space and move into asking for what I need or asking for what I want or being very clear rather than having that “Hmm, why doesn’t he know what I’m thinking? Why doesn’t he understand that I feel X, Y, Z right now? He should. He should know this and he should do this” and, you know, getting kinda huffy about it rather than being constructive and an active participant in the situation.

Marina: Yeah. And I think the big question, you know, I remember exactly the session when I asked a couple. This was going on and it’s funny because she was also an only child and I asked them, “Is your husband like a psychic superhero? Is that how he’s supposed to know all this?” and I had such an existential moment of like “Woah! Advice I need for myself!”. Your partner is not a psychic. If you don’t share your wants, needs, desires, they’re not gonna know and your relationship is really the place to do that. That’s what adds a lot of depth and a feeling of connection and a feeling of attunement and that feeling of being in love to your relationship is really being able to put all that stuff out there and have it be validated and heard. Not always met. This is a really big, important thing here. Not always necessarily met but always validated and understood. That’s kinda like the essence of communication and bonding.

Meredith: You know what I’m thinking? Not to be gender stereotypical but, do you tend to see this? If it’s a male-female couple, I’ll explain this point and the male partner will be like “Yes! That’s what I’ve been trying to explain! I’m not a mind reader!”. And I share that with you because I know we have a lot of women who listen to our podcast and just know that coming from two women who are guilty of doing this, it’s likely that your partner feels it and you may have heard this from him or her before saying “I’m not a mind reader! I’m not a mind reader!”. Pay extra close attention today if that’s the case.

Marina: Mhmm! Yeah! I would have to agree with that one. But I will say I have seen it in guys also where guys expect their female partners to be a bit of a mind reader. I think it looks a little different. I think the type of things that, and let me know if you kind of see the same, the type of things that guys tend to expect their female partners to be psychic on are their stressors. Like “I shouldn’t have to tell you why I’m stressed out. You should just know” and “I shouldn’t have to tell you I love you. You should just know”. So, kind of the more emoting. I noticed sometimes it goes that way with guys but I think the obvious like wants, needs, that’s maybe a bit more of us ladies who may be guilty of that.

Meredith: And I think women tend to show up more with “You should know why I’m upset. You should know why I’m angry. I shouldn’t have to explain it to you”. They don’t know!

Marina: Yeah. Explain it! And honestly, how much effort does it really take to explain it? Sometimes when you withhold that explanation and you’re really, really so strongly tied to that like “Well, they should just know”. Is that you feeding a power struggle? Is that you really fishing for a power struggle? I always call that out because I feel like that information’s never hard to share and it’s so valuable to share.

Meredith: Mhmm! Definitely! Another myth is “We will never have external stressors”.

Marina: “Because our love is so strong.”

Meredith: “Our love is so strong, we could conquer anything. We could climb a mountain! Our love is so strong!”

Marina: Sure! Sure, you can!

Meredith: Go for it!

Marina: The reality is there’s always gonna be external stressors. And to kinda live in a world with rose colored glasses on and expect that because your love is so strong, there’s never gonna be any stressors or life is not gonna throw hardships. You’re always a little naive and unrealistic. Is there a function to stressors though?

Meredith: Yeah! Not that we choose them, right? We don’t go out searching for stressors but, you know, they can provide opportunities to tackle things together. So use that strength that you have as a couple to tackle the stressor in a healthy way. To come together as a team and work on it to get closer rather than to just avoid or think they’re not gonna come your way at all.

Marina: Yeah! And also to build resilience. I think there’s really a lot to being able to build resilience as a couple. I love when I get older couples talking about, and I’m thinking about one couple in particular that I super love who are an older couple and who have talked about coping the certain, you know, really major stressors in life and how it was such like bonding and resilience-building experiences in hindsight even though in the moment, it was like a really hard thing for them and that’s how I think after learning that from them and really internalizing that from them, it helps me reframe that in my relationship with George where there were certain stressors that we went through and now I just think of them as these were times we really supported each other and we went through this big learning curve of supporting each other and now we’re more resilient and stronger as a couple.

Meredith: Yeah! Definitely! I could see that. So going through these myths, these are beliefs that a lot of partners hold. So moving past that, I think underneath each of these, if someone has an experience that violates those beliefs. “My partner reads my mind. We’re thrown external stressors that feel like we can’t handle them”. The question that comes up is “Does this mean our marriage isn’t working? So, if these things are not true in this moment, does that mean our marriage is failing in some way?”.

Marina: Mhmm!

Meredith: And typically, the answer is “No!”.

Marina: Yeah! I think with that is there’s a big difference between things that would be nice or things that I would prefer versus things that are violations of non-negotiables, values, ethics. Yes, it would be nice if you never had any stressors. It would be nice if your vision of your relationship was exactly the same.

Meredith: Mhmm! It would be!

Marina: Sure!

Meredith: But if it’s not, that doesn’t mean your marriage is failing versus when we say violations of our non-negotiables, those are things that are really solid. So when partner is non-negotiable, “I need to have five children”, the other partner is non-negotiable “I need to have zero children”, that’s a tough one. That’s a tough one to reconcile. Or, I believe in physical aggression during arguments and another partner who does not. That would be a safety issue or concern for well-being. A deep concern for well-being. So those are non-negotiables. That’s a different situation than the ideal. It would be really nice “if”.

Marina: Mhmm! And I think it’s really important to make that big distinction. A whole lot of marriages are great and don’t have a whole lot of “Oh, well. It would be nice that you just kinda work it out”. So…

Meredith: Yeah! Definitely! So, we mentioned this last week. 69% of problems are perpetual. So, you can’t use not disagreeing as marker of a success or failure of your relationship. That’s a really big one.

Marina: Yeah! I think, the trickiest one for me to help my clients move past is if you’re feeling unimportant, unloved, deprioritized, that doesn’t mean your marriage is not working. It just means your marriage is in negative sentiment override and what that means is your marriage is kind of stuck in a negative place so everything feels negative. It almost feels like there’s this rain cloud on top of your marriage. It doesn’t mean that your marriage is inherently not working. What it means is you need to move your marriage from negative sentiment override to positive sentiment override where you’re looking at things in globally more positively. But I think this is a hard one for people to reconcile because those feelings are so deep and they’re very powerful but I think it is very liberating for people to hear that even that’s not a deal breaker. Even that doesn’t mean your marriage is not working. It means your marriage needs a really, really healthy dose of rituals of connections which of course, we’ve talked about a hundred times. We did a whole episode on episode two with a great freebie with a masterlist of our favorite rituals of connections so that’s really what it means. Your marriage needs a real, nice, heavy dose of those!

Meredith: Yup! That’s a big one. I think that’s a really hard one for people to take in but it’s extremely important. I can’t tell you how many couples I’ve had to explain this to and again, a lot of this is normal. It’s just normal. It’s like the Ebb and flow of your relationship and there’s way to come back from it.

Marina: Mhmm!

Meredith: The other thing that doesn’t mean your marriage isn’t working is if you have different expectations for things. So, if you and your partner have different expectations for chores or how you spend your leisure time or how you spend holidays and things like that, that doesn’t mean your marriage is failing. It doesn’t mean that you’re not compatible. It means that you need to talk about it. You need to discuss and co-create shared expectations which is something we’ll talk more about but that’s just important to know.

Marina: Yeah. A big one that I see come up a lot is in-laws.

Meredith: Mhmm!

Marina: And again, that doesn’t mean anything other than you need to strategically find a way to live with the situation and support each other better with the situation as opposed to try to change the situation. It’s like looking at change as internal versus external. You’re never gonna change the external situation but you have a lot of power internally.

Meredith: Yeah. That is a big one. So, the “shoulds”. Let’s talk about some “shoulds”.

Marina: Oh, the shoulds.

Meredith: The shoulds.

Marina: I heard someone at a conference once say something I really loved and found hilarious. He had this therapist was talking and he was saying, he was doing a case presentation and he was like, and then I told my client, you need to stop shooting all over yourself. A little therapy joke for ya. But, you know, I thought that was hilarious and super pertinent

Meredith: Yeah! Absolutely! I have banned the word “should” from sessions with some couples because I’m like “These shoulds are not, it’s not getting us anywhere. Shoulds are nice. Talk about what you want. Talk about what you need. Make a request. Don’t say, ‘it should, it should, it should.’ because you know what? Shoulds are judgy! Saying like ‘Well, you should do this or he should do that’ that’s critical and judgy!”.

Marina: Yeah. And there are people who are definite should abusers. There is just way too many shoulds and all it really communicates to me is there’s a lot of unmet expectations in your relationship and generally, the starting point for me with that is “Are these expectations being expressed? Are these expectations being heard and validated?”. And usually, they’re not. They’re just kinda “Well, it should be this way”. It goes back to “Well, my partner should be a psychic. They should know everything I want, need…”. It’s like a, I love 30 rock and Tracy Jordan has those two assistants and in one episode, and I say this to George all the time, he’s like “You should anticipate me!”. You know, it’s just not realistic. Your partner can’t anticipate you.

Meredith: Right! That’s funny! And by the way, these shoulds get in the way of your happiness. They actually prevent you from being happy in your relationship so “He should just know what I want or need. He should never make me feel upset or hurt my feelings”. That’d be nice!

Marina: This one is one I particularly take a grievance with because I hear a lot of couples express this “He should never make me upset” or “I should never do that to upset my partner”. Look at your partner as a resilient human being who’s allowed to have a full spectrum of emotions and upset has its place on a full spectrum of emotions. What should not be is an emotional spectrum that only feels from happy to happy.

Meredith: Yeah! That’s not sustainable in a long term relationship and I would say there could be a “Should’ve my partner hopefully wouldn’t intentionally and with malice upset me or my feelings”, right? But it’s natural for that to happen with two people coming together, building a life. “He should express love to me in this way and if he doesn’t, then he doesn’t love me”.

Marina: Mhmm! Ugh this is a really, really common one. And this is a very, I think, frustrating one. I kind of blame a specific book. I’m not gonna...

Meredith: And I know what you’re talking about.

Marina: Name it.

Meredith: So, let’s name it. Let’s talk about it because I have mixed feelings. You talk about it.

Marina: So, the five love languages and I love when people come into session with the print out of “This is my love language and this is what my partner should be doing and this is how they should be showing me love” and the reality is from what I know, from what I’ve seen, from what I’ve experience, it’s so much more dynamic than that and there’s no act of service or blah blah blah. If you just did that all the time, it would be so static. I think the ways we express love to our partner should be dynamic. Should be a lot richer than “Oh, well. This quiz said it’s this so let me just do this”. And also, where’s the room for creativity? Where’s the room for growth? Where’s the room for emotional evolvement in your relationship if you’re locked into “Well, this is mine and this is yours and that’s it”. There’s no exploration and play and fun in that. That’s my grievance.

Meredith: And I see that. I do see that. What I noticed with these how love is being expressed, and I think we’ve talked about this in the past, but we tend to express love the way we would like to receive it. So, if I receive the message of love through physical affection, I’m going to show my partner love through physical affection. But if they receive the message of love through compliments and verbal affirmation or just saying “I love you”, they may not internalize physical affection as love and they may feel a lack of receiving that message if I’m not verbalizing it. So, I like the book as in, in a way of simplifying that concept and saying “Look, generally speaking, what hits you hardest?”. So kinda conceptualizes these categories of expressions of love. What is most impactful? And that’s not to say “Don’t do the others” but it’s to say, “Hey, heads up. This is gonna hit her the most like love and this is not gonna get hit the partner the most like love”. So that’s my two cents.

Marina: This is where we can agree to disagree. So I totally get that and I think there’s so much value to that concept of what’s the most impactful, where do you get the most bang for your buck and that’s where I agree. I think that’s where the book does make a super valid point.

Meredith: Mhmm! Agree to disagree. I love this one too. “He should feel happy and be relaxed when he comes home from work”.

Marina: Ugh, it’s almost funny to me.

Meredith: It is funny! Again, wanting that to be the case, it would be great if we all walked in the door and like “Hi honey. How are you? How was your day? Mine was great! Yay!” but that’s not usually, can’t always be the case.

Marina: Yeah. I think this reminds me of the Sex and the City episode where Carrie was talking about being “perfect Carrie”. It’s almost like the underlying expectation here is your partner’s always like they’re perfect, cheery, happy, best day self.

Meredith: Yeah!

Marina: That’s not realistic! Are you always your perfect, happy, cheery, best day self?

Meredith: No way!

Marina: Probably not, right? So, I think it’s important to check in with the fact that your partner is a human being just like you.

Meredith: Mhmm. Ultimately, the problem with these shoulds is that they set your partner up for failure because no one could be living up to the shoulds. And unfortunately, when you have these beliefs and you really feel like they’re the truth, if your partner violates them, you end up feeling like “He doesn’t love me. He doesn’t want me to be happy. He doesn’t really care” and you kinda go down this spiral and expand the feeling over the whole relationship and react to your partner as if that’s the reality. React to your partner as if he or she doesn’t love you, that you’re not important to them and then again, it starts these really negative dynamics.

Marina: Yeah! Really, what it is that it squirts, you’re putting contingencies on love. You’re putting contingencies on connection, happiness, love, and when you put those contingencies on there, it doesn’t feel good.

Meredith: No.

Marina: So, that’s a great segway into how do we appreciate what we have right now? How do we let go of those contingencies and those shoulds?

Meredith: It’s a good question. I know it sounds simple. It’s simple but it’s not easy. That’s something I found myself saying a lot these days. Rather than focusing on what you don’t have or what the problems are, focus on what’s going right. How do you help couples do this; shift on focusing what’s going right?

Marina: So I really love the gratitude journaling and the sharing the gratitude journaling with each other. I think gratitude journaling, when you do it on a daily basis, you’re really making a habit of looking for things that are good and you appreciate and make you feel, make you feel grateful, and there’s a lot to that and I think it really brings you into the moment and it’s almost like, some people are stuck in, when you’re in that should mentality, you’re scanning for when you shoulds aren’t met. When you’re in a gratitude mentality, even if, like some people, when I start them out with this, it’s so hard for them to find three. But if you make a practice of it, what you’re actually making a practice of is scanning for the good things that are happening in the present as oppose to the shoulds that aren’t being met.

Meredith: Yeah. I always try to explain it. This exercise is so powerful because it’s not just about making a list. The action of using your brain to look back at your day and go through your day and seek out what went well, that physiologically trains your brain to do that more and more and overtime, that becomes the natural tendency. That’s why it’s so powerful. I guess it’s nice to make a list of three good things but it’s about retraining your brain to focus attention on a certain place. It actually makes you happier overtime.

Marina: Mhmm! It’s like putting your brain into positive sentiment override.

Meredith: Yeah! I love that one.

Marina: Yeah. You know what really grinds my gears is when people undermine this one. Yeah, it’s an easy one and it’s an easy one to also to say “Meh, whatever. It’s too easy”, but this is the beautiful thing about it. It’s simply great. A simply great tip is gratitude journaling in terms of letting go of the shoulds and being a lot more present and grateful for what you have.

Meredith: Yeah, definitely! I know this next one is Marina’s favorite so I’m gonna let her share about giving process-based compliments to your partner.

Marina: Yeah. So, process-based complements. I feel like they’re about the same thing. They’re about being present and aware of your partner and the moment and complementing. There’s a big difference between “Oh, you look really nice” versus “Today, when you made me breakfast in the morning, it made me feel so considered and it just made me feel like you so got that I was gonna have this stressful day and we did something that was so nice and so loving and so impactful for me and it made me so great about you and our relationship”. That’s a process-based complement. George made me breakfast this morning. I mean, I was rushing this morning because the traffic was atrocious and that’s like exactly how I felt and that’s what I told him and that has a lot more than “Oh, you made breakfast. That was good…”

Meredith: “Thanks!”.

Marina: “Thanks!”.

Meredith: “That’s really nice!”.

Marina: Yes. You know, I love the compliments that come with the depth.

Meredith: Mhmm! Yeah! Another way to appreciate what you have now is to focus on the small stuff. It doesn’t have to be these grandiose things. And really, that’s another thing that gets in the way are these unrealistic expectations that “Well, we have to have this house for me to be happy” or “We have to go on this vacation for me to be happy”. No, you need to work on focusing on the smaller moments to make you happy. Like you just said, your partner making you breakfast and thinking of you in that way is a big deal! That’s a very nice thing, you know. Making you a cup of coffee, asking if you want anything from wherever, bringing you a cupcake - a lot about food, huh… bringing you home a cupcake, I was going to say. Anything like that is really, those small things matter. So rather than focusing on the big stuff which is harder to do on a consistent basis, focus your energy on picking out the smaller things that are powerful and positive.

Marina: Mhmm! And to go with that, it’s also focusing on the feeling. At the end of the day, we’re all chasing feelings so we want the big house because we perceive we’ll feel some type of way when we have it. We want the vacation or the purse or whatever because we perceive we will feel a certain way when we have it. When really a lot of those feelings that we’re “chasing”, we already get. We just don’t pay enough attention and gratitude to them. At the end of the day, you wanna feel calm or you wanna feel connected or you wanna feel successful or you wanna feel a sense of desire. Focus on the little things that give you that feeling and share that with your partner! Like a feeling I really like is feeling like my partner is emotionally attuned to me. That happened for me this morning and I expressed that in a process-based complement. I could have also just expressed it without a process-based complement like “I really appreciate that you did this for me because it really makes me feel considered”. And the house is not gonna get me that feeling like this but something really small.

Meredith: Yeah, absolutely! So, how do we create new realistic expectations for your relationship? So, if you’re listening to this and you’re saying “Oh, boy. That’s me. I think that, I thought that, I believe that, we fight about that”, we’re gonna tell you how to create a new set of expectations. So you’re setting yourselves up for success. The first step here is to get clear on what needs are yours to make for yourself. If you were to make a big ole list of all your needs, almost sorting through like “What’s in my pocket of responsibility and what’s actually in my partner’s?” and you’re gonna find that 90% are really your responsibility to meet for yourself. So, being aware of that is really important before taking it to a couple’s discussion and putting your joint needs together on the table.

Marina: Yeah and I would say I’ll give you guys like a bit of a hack, a bit of a cheat. There are only very few feelings that are met interpersonally and these are emotional attunement, connection, feelings that are centered around co-creating something between the two of you. A lot of the rest of the feelings like happy, we talked about this in another episode, is not necessarily your partner’s job. Emotionally attuned is both of your jobs together but happy? Not necessarily their job.

Meredith: Yup! It’s a new concept, I know, for a lot of people but it’s a really important piece of this. Also, to understand that your partner’s not your parent. Your partner is not, in the sense that it’s not your partner’s job to do things for you or take care of you necessarily in that way but also in the sense that they’re not going to do things exactly as your parent did.

Marina: Yeah! And I think that’s so, so important to decipher because it makes sense. We got our relationship blueprint from our parents, well, at least a very large majority of us but you’re not marrying your parent. We’re not living in Freudian world here.

Meredith: No, we’re not.

Marina: And another one, and I guess this is kind of the step three, is talk with your partner to co-create. Co-create means bring some of yours, they bring some of theirs. Expectations for different areas of your life. And I think the more thorough you can be with this, the better. When people are like “Oh, we just wanna be happy and we want our kids to be happy and we want to pay off that mortgage”, no! This is where you get detailed. This is where you do your due diligence and you co-create in the areas that are really important to you in as much detail and with as much diligence and love and effort as possible.

Meredith: Yeah!

Marina: To do this, download this week’s bonus because we have really good worksheet for you and I think this worksheet pairs super well with the bonus from episode six, the compromise cheat sheet. If you find yourself stuck on some topics or like, this is not necessarily always a smooth ride so I think this one with the bonus from six can really, really help you co-create that vision together where you feel like you’re winning, you’re getting to “Yes”, you’re meeting in the middle and you’re creating a decision that’s truly yours and unique to your relationship. So, we don’t want you to just  listen. We want you to listen and to integrate this into your relationship. So, we’ve put together the co-creation of realistic expectations worksheet for you and you can download it at our website at

Meredith: Yup! That’s a good one! Definitely grab that! Let’s talk about our takeaways. What’s your takeaway?

Marina: I guess, my big takeaway is, you know what? I gonna say this. It’s gonna be so against my dogma.

Meredith: Oh, boy!

Marina: When you said about five principles? Oh, not. Not five principles. Five languages, sorry. That it’s like about what hits the hardest, what has the most impact, because I have been so disappointed for so long so I think that really kind of frames it for me. That not just looking at it is not something that’s static but it’s about getting the most value out of your effort.

Meredith: Ah huh! That’s a pretty good takeaway! My takeaway today, I think, really about how ingrained these beliefs are. And this is probably another discussion for another day but romance and comedies, I call them lady porn. So, the women, they watch the romantic-comedies and they see these grand gestures and these like, what’s that movie and now it’s gonna drive me nuts. Oh, it’s a Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis. Friends with benefits I wanna say. Oh my gosh, that movie captures this so beautifully that she’s waiting for grand gestures so he puts together a flash mob to show her that he loves her. After those drama, I’m just like “You’re ruining the relationships everywhere!” because that is not going to happen and that doesn’t mean your relationship is that! So I think we’re fed these sort of idealistic beliefs like the myths we talked about. We’re fed these from our parents, from peers, from T.V., from movies, from the media, and we take them in as reality, but they’re not!

Marina: We take them in as “Shoulds”.

Meredith: “Shoulds”, yeah! Shoulds and that they’re attainable and possible and they’re just not! So I think just remembering again, how ingrained these are in our minds and in our culture, that’s really hard to battle back on.

Marina: Yeah and that they can be really sabotaging to really great IRL relationships.

Meredith: (In real life). Just in case you don’t know. That’s all for today. We hope you take these tips and start using them right away. Be sure to download the bonus because that’s gonna be really helpful and we’d  love to continue the conversation with you in our Facebook group where we’re gonna be giving you tips, tricks, and going in there with live streams exclusively for our members. We’d also love to hear from you of how you’re managing this in your relationship and if you saw in yourself some unrealistic expectations and you wanna put them out there for the group, I think that’d be very brave and I’m sure you’re gonna have a lot of people saying “Yup! Me too!”.

Marina: Yes!

Meredith: So definitely join us there. You can get to it at or you can go to our website and just click the link and thats So until next week!

Marina and Meredith: Bye!