Tips for PREPARE/ENRICH facilitators: Navigating Problems Associated with Unrealistic Expectations - the inventory may reveal Idealistic Distortion

When couples hit the inevitable challenges of marriage, they may be tempted to believe that they have made a mistake and “the one” must still be out there somewhere. The truth is there are likely several people on this earth with whom one could have a successful relationship.
Almost intoxicated by love, engaged couples are often known for being infatuated with one another. They tend to be confident that they’ll never have problems or that existing problems will just fade away with time, they’ll never question their love, never experience a drop in romance, and already know everything there is to know about their partner. They truly are love struck.

The Problem with Unrealistic Expectations

While the phenomenon of being love struck is quite normal, it can also be a setup when experienced in extremes. The following tips for PREPARE/ENRICH facilitators can assist in navigating the problems associated with unrealistic marriage expectations.

Tips for PREPARE/ENRICH facilitators:

    2. Look at the Level of Idealistic Distortion: 
    The PREPARE/ENRICH inventories (Olson, 2004) have a scale devoted to detecting the level of idealism in a premarital or married couple. Predictably, the average idealism scores for premarital couples are significantly higher than for married couples. Typically, the higher the Idealistic Distortion score, the lower a couple will score on the Marriage Expectations category. You can review the Idealistic Distortion items in your Facilitator’s Manual (Chapter 2) to get a feel for how extreme and unrealistic these items are. Consider these two categories together; noting each partners individual/revised scores, for the most complete picture.

    It may be the norm for engaged couples to be love-struck, embracing romanticised notions regarding love and marriage or perhaps it may just be that humans are designed to function at a physiological level. Don’t sound the alarms or be overly critical but understand that couples may need to be more realistic about what they should expect from their relationship.

    Marriage Expectations is a challenging, yet fun area of discussion for premarital couples, however whilst these couples often have a lot to discuss as they prepare for marriage, healthy dialogue about expectations is critical.

    by Peter Larson, Ph.D.

    Tune in next week for more interesting ideas and tips.

    References: Olson, D. H. (2004). PREPARE/ENRICH Counselor’s Manual. Minneapolis: Life Innovations.
    Slater, L. (2006). True Love. National Geographic. February, 32-49.

    Source: Peter Larson, Ph.D. 
    References: Olson, D. H. (2004). PREPARE/ENRICH Counselor’s Manual. Minneapolis: Life Innovations.
    Slater, L. (2006). True Love. National Geographic. February, 32-49.

    #PREPARE/ENRICH is a customised online assessment tool that identifies each couples unique strength and growth areas. Based on their assessment results, a facilitator provides feedback sessions, helping couples to discuss and understand their results while teaching them proven relationship skills.

    For more information on PREPARE/ENRICH or to simply set up a couple on the tool, please contact: or call today (02) 9520 4049 #prepareenrich

    Prepare Group Couples 400x450

    Recent Posts


    See all