Are your standards too high when it comes to your marriage?

Posted April 24

Obviously, marriage requires work and striving to make your marriage better every day. Couples, or individuals, usually have some sort of standard they subscribe too.

We want our spouse, marriage, family and home to be at a certain level. It's great to have these attainable goals in place, something you are actively engaged in working toward. However, are your standards too high?

A recent Time article stated, "...having high standards only makes people more satisfied if they’re in strong marriages—and having lower standards is better for marriages that aren’t as secure.... Expecting more from a partnership inspires people to work at it, some studies find, but other research suggests that since lower standards are easier to meet, people might be more satisfied by them."

Signs your standards are too high

Your standards may be too high if:

  • You're never satisfied by your partner's efforts or find yourself frequently disappointed with how your spouse behaves or what he does or doesn't do.
  • Your spouse is frequently upset because she can't achieve your expectations.
  • You treat your family like employees and you're the boss.
  • Your spouse completely stops trying because what you expect from him is unattainable.
  • You have increasing tension or arguments in your marriage because your high standards are not being met.
High standards can be okay, if...

High standards aren't always a bad thing, but it has to be something you and your spouse are willing to work toward together and that you both want. As the Time article stated, this usually works better in stronger marriages. High standards can strengthen your relationship, keep your marriage and lifestyle improving as you set goals and achieve them, and husband and wife know their expectations of each other and themselves will be met.

In a healthy, strong marriage, partners will be able to notice if they've placed too much pressure on their spouse and know when to back off a bit. They can handle constructive criticism and ultimately want to improve themselves and their marriage.

Lower standards are also a good thing

In a marriage that is either not as stable, going through a rough patch or is a newer relationship, having low standards is a benefit. Low standards decreases what you expect out of your spouse, and lowers the pressure on your spouse to achieve. In a low standard environment, goals and improvements can still happen, there's just less pressure to do so.

“People who have weaker abilities, either because they have poor communication skills, external obstacles and financial pressures that stress the marriage, or personal vulnerabilities, do best if they demand less—otherwise they risk becoming disillusioned,” said the Time article.

Gage your marriage. If you and your spouse make a solid team, set some goals, work toward bettering your life together and push each other to become better.

If your marriage isn't quite at that level, it's no big deal. Start where you are and with lower standards. Take small steps toward improving yourselves and your relationship. Take satisfaction in the things you do achieve. Small improvements will eventually turn into big ones.

Wendy Jessen is a regular contributor for and frequently does media reviews. She blogs at Twitter: @WendyJessen Email:


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