We all have expectations for how husbands and wives are supposed to function in marriage relationships. One of the goals of pre-marital counseling is to clarify those expectations that are mutually compatible in contrast to those that are not. Hopefully, a couple will negotiate through those contrasting expectations before the knot is tied.
When those expectations are not addressed before the marriage then the couple must negotiate through those contrasting points as they go. Unfortunately, sometimes these expectations are never verbalized. The other partner is supposed to know what to do intuitively, without being told. The belief is that once I tell my mate what I expect he or she will now fulfill my expectation out of duty, not out of love.
Contrasting, unverbalized expectations combined with the normal stressors of marriage and family life is not good. Sometimes they can lead to unresolved conflict that simmers below the surface until one partner finally explodes. When that happens those expectations are often expressed in hurtful resentments and angry words that make it hard for the other partner to listen without reacting in kind.
Marriage and Family Therapists are equipped to help couples surface those hidden expectations and work through the tangled web of unresolved conflict. While it is much easier to address them in pre-marital counseling, before the resentment and anger sets in, it is still possible to find hope when nothing else seems to be working.