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Messing Up and Setting Expectations in a Marriage Relationship


Let’s get real this morning.

We’re speaking at the Connect Marriage Retreat near Atlanta, Georgia this week and we wanted to give you a little preview of our talk and practical marriage advice you can improve your relationship with your spouse. But really any relationship. A spouse, a child or even a business partner.

It starts with recent a story where we messed up.

Sometimes, we fight

Sometimes, we fight. We do. It makes us laugh when people ask us, “Do you ever fight?” Of course we do! We say things we don’t mean. We do things we shouldn’t do. We hurt each other’s feelings. It’s an inevitable part of marriage — especially since we’re together. Every minute. Of every day. We wake up next to each other. We drive to the gym together. We eat all three meals together. 
And we work in the same room. Together. To be clear, we chose that because we love each other. Because when we were in high school, we committed that, regardless of anything else we do in this life, our number one goal was to maximize the amount of time we spend together on this earth. And we got what we asked for! Which has been such big blessing. It’s also presented some challenges.

Now, do we fight a lot? No. If we’re being honest, we really don’t fight a lot. But when we do, the issue is almost never the issue.

Here’s an example:

Recently, we got home from an engagement session. We were tired. We’d worked all day, it was almost dinnertime and there was still so much left to do. As soon as we walked in the door, Jordan immediately started making dinner. Amy sat at the bar and started prepping a post for Instagram. So far, no harm, no foul. We were both doing something for Demos Inc. Jordan on the household front. Amy on the business front. About ten or fifteen minutes later, Jordan was in the heat of cooking. Pun intended. The oven was baking. Pans were sizzling. He was cutting vegetables. Checking on the meat. Setting the table. And cleaning the dishes as he went.

That’s when he looked up.

And Amy was flicking her right thumb. On her iPhone screen. Which meant only one thing: she was scrolling through Instagram. She’d gotten lost in the rabbit hole we all fall down from time to time. In an instant, Jordan went from warm to hot. He didn’t say anything, but when we put dinner on the table, he was cold. For the rest of the night. Right away, Amy knew something was up. She just didn’t know what. See, if you’re like us in your marriage, then when your husband gets mad, he gets quiet, he stonewalls. Well, that’s exactly what Jordan did.

After an exhausting night and following morning of Amy trying to pry it out of Jordan, he finally verbalized it: I was working my butt off. You didn’t help me. And, worse, you were on Instagram. 

Translation: You care more about them than you do about me.

Now, is that fair? Of course not. Jordan knows that there’s no one in the world who loves him more than Amy. No one in the world who has his best interests at heart than her. But, in the heat of the moment, we’re not always fair to each other in marriage. Are we? Jordan certainly wasn’t. And the issue at stake wasn’t really the issue, either. It rarely is. Because we hadn’t talked about that hour of time in advance. We hadn’t communicated. We hadn’t set a clear expectation of what we were going to be doing, why we were going to be doing it and how we the other person could support us in it.

We hadn’t set expectations

Throughout the course of the conversation, Amy revealed that she started scrolling on Instagram a) unintentionally and mindlessly after she posted and b) because sometimes she just needs that release, a chance escape real life for a little while. She never intended or set out to make Jordan feel unsupported, on his own or disrespected. She’d never — not in a million years — intend to do that. It just… happened. Can you relate? The unfortunate thing? We’re usually really
good about setting expectations. We avoid 99.9% of fights because we’re in constant communication about what we’re doing and how the other person can help. If we would’ve listened to our own advice, we would’ve saved ourselves a lot of heartache and a painful night of sleep without talking to each other over something so stupid. But, that’s the thing about marriage. It’s not something you can set and forget. It’s a muscle that has to be constantly working to get stronger.

So, if we could rewind the tape, what would we do differently?

1. Set Expectations

Before we walked in the door, Jordan should’ve been the leader of the family and said something like, “When we get inside, it’ll take me about an hour (start to finish) to prepare and cook dinner. What are you going to do?”

Then, Amy would’ve told him her plan. “I’m going to post on Instagram and then scroll for a little bit. Sometimes I just need that mental break and escape from the world for a few minutes.” 

Then, Jordan could’ve followed up with something like, “Sounds good. I totally get that. Would you mind setting the table and filling up the water glasses by 7:15 so we can eat at 7:30?”

That would’ve solved everything. Just that little bit of communication. Because Jordan would’ve had the help and support he needed, and Amy would’ve gotten the break she needed. We would’ve known what each other needed, and we both wold’ve helped the other person get it. 

What’s the takeaway? Try setting expectations. Maybe one hour or a few hours at a time when you’re together — whether you work together or not. In our experience, when we know what the other person is doing and they know what we’re doing, it gives us a chance to ask for the support we need (if we need it) so that we don’t silently stew and feel neglected or unappreciated when that was never the other person’s intention in the first place.

Remember, in this story, we were equally as guilty, but maybe Jordan more so than Amy, because, by not communicating expectations, he never gave her a chance to win to begin with. And if there’s one thing know for sure about marriage, it’s this: don’t make your spouse guess how to meet your needs. It’s like playing tag in an open field after dark. Your bound to spend most of your time guessing wrong. Instead, just communicate You’ll both be happier and more fulfilled. When we’re not forgetting this simple principle, that’s when we are!

We hope this helps you, friends! We certainly aren’t perfect, but are feeling thankful for opportunities to grow.

Marriage Advice

Hey, We're Amy & Jordan!

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  1. Lauren

    May 2nd, 2016 at 7:42 am

    It TOTLLY HELPS!! You guys are such an inspiration – not just for photography but for life! Thanks for being so connected us (fans) snapchat/ blogs and Instagram included – you guys are so amazing! Keep rocking it out!!!

  2. Amy & Jordan

    May 3rd, 2016 at 8:15 am

    Wow!! Thank you!! We’re so glad to have you along for the ride 🙂

  3. Jennie karges

    May 2nd, 2016 at 8:19 am

    I love this. You should do more Posts like this.

  4. Amy & Jordan

    May 3rd, 2016 at 8:15 am

    We’re hoping to! 🙂

  5. Denise Karis

    May 2nd, 2016 at 8:31 am

    Who sets the table?!?!?!?!?!?!? The Queen could come over for dinner and I’d be like “Grab a plate and meet me in the living room for Netflix.” #kimmyschmidtseason2

  6. Amy & Jordan

    May 3rd, 2016 at 8:16 am

    Hahahahaha!! Amy usually sets the table 🙂

  7. Julie

    May 2nd, 2016 at 9:12 am

    We’ve been married for almost 23 years and you two just taught us something. 🙂 We rarely fight also, which is something I feel so proud of after this many years together, but I can definitely say that this kind of situation has happened to us! Lol! You two are such a blessing xoxo

  8. Amy & Jordan

    May 3rd, 2016 at 8:16 am

    Aw! Thank you so much! We’re always learning new things!!

  9. Andrea McDonald

    May 2nd, 2016 at 9:15 pm

    Love that you shared you’re human like the rest of us.

    Without a doubt my favorite bloggers are the ones that share their vulnerability. It makes them WAY more relatable than the ones who only show the highlight reel. Thank you for sharing!

  10. Amy & Jordan

    May 3rd, 2016 at 8:17 am

    Wow!! Thank you!! We love being real and vulnerable with you guys!

  11. Sheryl Kirksey

    May 2nd, 2016 at 10:04 pm

    Oh be still my heart the bow tie… and as usual Amy you are filled with cuteness…
    Thank you for sharing… We have lil or no communication… something we both need to work on…

  12. Amy & Jordan

    May 3rd, 2016 at 8:18 am

    Aw!! Thank you!! 🙂

  13. Rosie

    May 3rd, 2016 at 7:35 am

    This is so true. Thanks for sharing this and being so transparent. You two are amazing and love following your adventures on SnapChat. You are such an inspiration.

  14. Amy & Jordan

    May 3rd, 2016 at 8:18 am

    We’re so glad you’re following along!!

  15. Marcelle

    May 3rd, 2016 at 7:59 pm

    Such a good reminder to communicate & set expectations, thank you!! I’m totally guilty of being in both of your shoes. I’ve always loved your stories. Jordan, you should write a book someday (in all the spare time you have haha!!) Hope you’re doing well!

  16. Amy & Jordan

    May 4th, 2016 at 7:57 am

    Totally!! Aw! Thank you!! We’ll see 🙂

  17. Rebecca Nash-Emerson

    May 8th, 2016 at 3:30 pm

    And just like that, you guys blew me away…
    I don’t know why it was both so surprising and yet a big ‘no duh’ when I read what you wrote “the issue is almost never the issue”

    It’s so true! I doubt that the majority of the disagreements my husband and I have had were actually about what we were talking about or what triggered them.

    Your suggestion of setting expectations is something I do well when it comes to my daughter but my communication with my husband is different.

    Thank you for the enlightenment – I will definitely be trying this

  18. Amy & Jordan

    May 10th, 2016 at 11:28 am

    Aw! We’re so glad this helped you!! Hugs!

  19. JudyLynn Cabal

    November 30th, 2016 at 9:43 am

    Such a great reminder! Thank you both! I just came upon your blog and I am already hooked! Thanks! Looking forward to getting to know you both!

  20. Amy & Jordan

    January 3rd, 2017 at 9:55 am

    We’re so glad you’re following along, Judy! Hugs!

  21. Melody

    January 5th, 2017 at 1:09 pm

    Gosh, I just read the article and it totally hit me! That’s exactly what happens all the time in my household. Thank you so much for the tips, as we are always learning how to love each other and communicate better.

  22. Amy & Jordan

    January 11th, 2017 at 11:32 am

    We’re so glad!! Hugs!!

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We help people take great photos and build profitable businesses that change lives. We’re high school sweethearts, former elementary school teachers and professional photographers who believe education is serious business, but learning should be fun.


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