Sometimes you may look at your marriage and think “This is not what I signed up for.” I was expecting: She would cook dinner every night. He would take long walks with me. We would go out more. We would stay at home more. We would have people over every weekend. We would take mini vacations every weekend. He would help me around the house. She wouldn’t mind my friends coming over every game night. We would spend holidays with my family. We would make our own traditions. I was expecting that he would ……… (fill in the blank). I was expecting she would……. (fill in the blank). And the list could go on and on.
Expectations are things you are looking for, things you are hoping will happen, things you are anticipating will come to pass or looking for something to happen a certain way and if it doesn’t, you are disappointed. Everyone has expectations and they probably vary from person to person because all of us are different and have had different life experiences. There is nothing wrong with expectations. They give us something to look forward to.
Not having your expectation met can cause frustration. If you are irritated because an expectation has not been met, you may need to evaluate the situation. Here are four things to ask yourself:
First, have you talked to your spouse about the expectation? Are you expecting them to do something that you have not verbalized and they don’t even know that is a need or want in your life? Expectations should be discussed with your spouse. Their opinion does matter, especially when the expectation involves them.
Second, is your expectation realistic? Your expectation may seem perfectly doable and valid to you but another person could see it from a totally different perspective. When your expectations are unrealistic it gets you into trouble because it makes you start questioning your decisions, yourself and whether your spouse cares for you. I am not talking about a long grocery list of things because you are not trying to get your spouse to comply to your every wish and command.
One of my expectations was simple, I thought. I’m so glad my husband thought so too. My expectation was when went on vacation that we would clean the house before we left. This was something simple I thought, I’m so glad my husband thought so to. I didn’t want to come home to a dirty house, a pile of laundry, a pile of dishes, or vacuuming. Who wants to start working right when they step in the door after being on vacation? Not me. Even when I have gone on vacations with girlfriends, my husband has the house spit-shined when I come home and I love it! He knows that is important to me and I really appreciate it.
Third, why is the expectation important? Understanding brings clarity to a situation. Mindreading is never good because most of the time we are wrong. We may think we know something but if it involves the other person, ask them because they definitely know why they need something. Asking them may cause you to look at the situation from another perspective. Listen to understand.
Fourth, has the expectation changed? If a person can no longer do the expectation, they need to talk to their partner and tell them why it is not feasible anymore. If you used to cook every day but now your work hours have changed and now you don’t get home until much later, the expectations may need to be readjusted. You now have to figure out another plan for meals. There are lots of options. You could order take out, go to a restaurant, pick something up on the way home, throw something in the crockpot before you leave, or prep meals weekly. Also, if you no longer want something done that you have previously asked, you should let your partner know. These four things are a good place to start in evaluating your expectations.
Negotiate your expectations. Make expectations a win/win in your relationship. Some may be doable, some may be unrealistic. Make it were both parties are getting something. It is unrealistic that one person gets everything they want and the other person gets nothing. Be open to meeting some of the important wants and needs of your partner.
What you are getting in your relationship now may not be what you signed up for, however, did you ever think that your spouse is thinking the same thing? Make sure you are communicating with one another openly and honestly about what your likes, dislikes, wants, and needs are.
You shouldn’t just have expectations for your spouse. What are your expectations for yourself when it comes to your conduct and behavior in the relationship? When thinking about what you signed up for, how about having expectations of you loving your mate, respecting your mate, caring for your mate, and always giving your best in the relationship. That’s sounds like something you should be looking for.