Unmet Expectations In Your Marriage
As teenagers who were head over heels in love with each other, we would sit and talk for hours about the kind of life we wanted to have. We talked and imagined our future. Our vision of the financially secured careers, beautiful home, kids, the dog and the white picket fence. At the same time laughing about how we will have the really cool neighbors who would invite us over, or inviting them, all sitting on the back deck drinking margaritas.
Yes, this was the beautiful life that we both had conjured up in our minds and had planned to make a reality. The marriage that we had talked about incessantly and had planned out almost to the last detail was filled already with huge “Expectations.” We had no idea that we were doomed even before started; all because of “Unmet Expectations.”
My husband and I grew up in a small town in Alabama. Imagine a couple of intersection lights, a Wal-Mart, CVS Pharmacy, Little Caesar’s Pizza, a hospital, along with a few other establishments. Therefore, one could understand why we “dreamed” so BIG! We thought we had this marriage “thing” figured out. We dated for about ten years before we got married because waiting and getting to know one another is what you’re supposed to do, right!?!? We talked, we shared, we worked hard, we saved our money, we loved each other more than anything in the world and above all else, “We Planned”!
Yes, we planned our entire lives together from the time we met. We were going to be the exception to the rule! The rule was, both our parents had divorced, our siblings had divorced, heck even some of our friends by this time had been divorced. We did not want to end up like any of them. We thought by “planning,” naturally the demise of our marriage because ultimately that’s what happens when you put unrealistic expectations on your relationship, we would come out on top. Wrong!
We wanted this life that we had dreamed up while sitting in the front seat of my then boyfriend’s, now husband’s, 89 Camaro when we were just 17 and 19 years old. The great jobs, the beautiful home, kids, cars, dinner ready when the other person arrived home, a clean kitchen as soon as dinner completed, our well-mannered kids who excelled with straight A’s, and the list goes on.
However, what we didn’t realize was that to “have” all of these things, we both were going to have to work hard, every day, all day. So that meant dinner might not be on the table every night, or at the same time every night, the beautiful house that we prayed for wouldn’t be cleaned all the time, cars break down, jobs lay off and for the most part, children are not born well mannered and gifted. So when we couldn’t live up to the ridiculous expectations that we had set for one another, we begin to lash out continuously at one another which is what ultimately led to our divorce.
See it was the expectation to have a great job, but at the same time being home every day to help out around the house. Also, to make a lot of money, without putting in long hours, to have an immaculate home, but there was no one there to clean it. Kids well mannered and on the honor roll, but no one’s home helping with homework.
As you can see, there was this expectation to be these “Amazing” people with this “Amazing” life but what we didn’t take into account was what it took to have that “Amazing” life. My husband wasn’t meeting my expectations. I wanted him to be home at a particular time to help out around the house, and I wasn’t meeting his expectations. He wanted me to by have dinner ready “on time” while keeping the house clean and overall being upbeat and perky by when he arrived home. We failed each other miserably because we “expected” way too much from one another without really understanding what it took to live up to those unattainable standards that we had set. Antonio Banderas once said, “Expectation is the Mother of Frustration.”
I’m not at all saying you should never have expectations. Expectations are great tools to use to communicate what it is you would like to have or accomplish. However, when certain expectations are not met, we have to be willing to “go with the flow”! This “go with the flow” mentality allows you to let go of unrealistic expectations not only in your marriage but all relationships. For example, with your children, your friendships, co workers, etc.
Fast forward nine years, my husband and I remarried nine months after our divorce. We learned a lot during that dark period in our relationship, for example, how “not” to put unreasonable pressure on the other person. We also learned that it was okay to have “expectations” of one another, this was a healthy part of being in relationships, but we figured out the art of “going with the flow” during the challenging times. Understanding this kept frustration at bay and gave us the tools we needed to communicate. We begin to understand what we needed from the other person without getting angry or lashing out.
Unmet Expectations lead to frustration, anger, bitterness and resentment. Learning to let go of what you “imagined” your life or a situation to be is probably one of the best gifts you can give yourself, your spouse and your children. People, in general, don’t want to let someone they love down. They innately want to please their significant other and give them what they need. So think about that the next time you’re writing out that “honey do list” or planning that perfect life! Expectancy is great! Just be realistic.
“How My Divorce Saved My Marriage”