Every relationship that we enter into in life comes with expectations. This is true whether the relationship is a romantic one or not. No one ever enters into a relationship expecting to be disappointed. Instead, people go into it hoping for the best. They have thoughts in their head about what they think should happen, and they set out to make those thoughts a reality.

Of course, couples quickly learn that what they set out for is rarely what happens. Some of that is through no fault of our own. Life rarely happens according to plan and families quickly have to learn to make adjustments. In addition, sometimes our expectations aren’t realistic. We either aren’t seeing things clearly or we simply don’t have enough experience in close relationships to know what’s realistic and what isn’t.

Fortunately, we can redefine our goals. When we consider our relationship with fresh eyes, we can create relationship goals examples and we can learn how to define our relationship in a way that works. Read on to see a list of realistic expectations in marriage that you can learn from and make your own.

1. Commitment

Your partner should be there for you in the good times and the bad times. You need to know that you can count on your significant other when you have a bad day. Commitment is something that you can expect from a sound marriage, and that’s why it’s first on our list of realistic expectations.

This is a two-way street. You can’t expect to be able to cut and run as soon as the going gets rough. Instead, you need to be there for your partner when they suffer an illness, a job change, or have rough patches with their extended family members. When you’re both there for each other through thick and thin, your relationship is one of mutual support. This kind of relationship can be very fulfilling in the long run.

2. Time together

You didn’t get married in order to be your partner’s roommate. Instead, it’s reasonable to expect quality time with your partner. Spending time together that is meaningful helps you maintain your friendship while you handle the many facets of your busy lives, especially if you have children.

It’s reasonable to expect a date night every so often. It’s okay to expect to do more than talk about the grocery list and what’s in the mail. You need time to smile and laugh with your significant other just like you did when you dated. This keeps you comfortable with your partner and on friendly terms.

3. To go with the flow

A relationship is going to have its ups and downs. It’s important to be able to laugh off the little things. If you make a mistake that costs you some money or an opportunity, it’s important that your spouse finds the humor in it. Your partner needs to be able to forgive you and know that life goes on.

4. Direct communication

Any list of relationship goals examples should include open and direct communication. It’s reasonable that you can expect your spouse to talk to you in a way that’s positive and effective. To make this happen, you and your partner should speak to each other with love and respect. You can expect to share your honest feelings without your partner making you feel small.

Patience is an important skill to remember, and you have to listen and validate your partner’s feelings. Listening is as important as talking, too. Make your partner feel important and appreciated.

It’s also important that you speak with your partner directly. Tell them the truth. Don’t sugar coat problems in the relationship but make sure that all of your communications are honest and polite.

5. A few small gestures

Another reasonable thing to expect is that your partner respects you. They should show you their appreciation by taking time to say thank you and that they love you. They should help with household tasks without needing to be prodded. If you’re religious, include your partner in your prayers and expect them to do the same.

If your partner hates it when you don’t carry your dishes to the sink, carry your dishes to the sink. If they don’t like it when you leave your clothes on the floor, don’t do that. Your partner can expect that you not provoke them by taking care of the little things that matter to you.

6. Be responsible

It’s reasonable in a marriage to expect your partner to be responsible. That means that you need to carry equal weight in your relationship. If finances are a strain, both parties should try to contribute. If you have children, both parents should spend some time taking care of them. If you need to pay the rent, make sure that the rent gets paid.

In a relationship, it’s reasonable to expect that your partner takes care of the things they need to do. You need a partner, not just another responsibility. You have enough to do. You’re both adults, and you can expect your partner to act like an adult, just like they can expect you to act like an adult, too.

7. Be trustworthy

No marriage works without trust. This is basic and fundamental. Your partner is your partner. Do not go looking for satisfaction with other people and in other places. Do not expect your partner to tolerate your being where you shouldn’t be, or not coming home when you say you’ll be home. Trust is a two-way street. In a marriage you can expect to both give and get trust.

8. A shared vision

In a relationship, it’s important to live your life together. One person can’t plan everything and make the other just go along with it. That’s a recipe for disaster and eventual distance. Instead, it’s fair to sit down and plan your life together. Come up with joint goals for your lives and then set out to achieve them. Take into account both parties’ goals and hopes when you make your list.

9. To ask for help

When something’s wrong, it’s reasonable to as your partner for help. It’s also reasonable to expect your partner to ask for help from you when something is wrong. Partners shouldn’t keep secrets. It’s fair and important to know that your partner will reach out to you for help when something goes wrong in their life. This two way street helps you resolve conflicts and solve problems before they get worse.

10. Individual goals

Being half of a couple doesn’t mean that you stop being an individual person. In your relationship, you can expect to still do what you love. This doesn’t mean you can run away from your partner whenever you want to. It does mean that you can still find time to go for the occasional hike, book club or religious meeting. It’s healthy and positive to pursue your interests and passions while still making time for your partner.