In any relationship there are expectations that hurt you and expectations that make you happy. To differentiate between the two you have to know what your expectations are. The starting point therefore is a listing of your expectations.
Detailing expectations during an alliance process is less difficult. It’s the expectations in the years that follow the honeymoon that are difficult. There are reasons for this.
Expectations are formed in the backdrop of upbringing, influence of relatives and friends, influences from fantasy land and your parents. And some expectations you are not even aware of. That is one reason.
The other reason is that you and your spouse are in a state of constant change. This is brought on by new roles and responsibilities. As a parent your expectations from your spouse increase. When office stress and work load increases, you expect more help and support from your spouse.
Once you have a consolidated list of expectations compare and analyze them with your spouse. You will find:
That many of your expectations are unexpressed and some of them are unreasonable. That over time expectations have changed and this has been the cause for some of the friction. That many of your expectations are in fact vague. Quite often expectations are not articulated. That sometimes you are not even aware that you have such expectations.
You may frequently assume your partner’s expectations are the same as yours. Nothing could be more wrong than that assumption. Some Expectations are based on fantasy.
Most of us believe that our expectations are perfectly reasonable. Some of us even think that we have a right to such expectations.
By analyzing each other’s expectations you get to know yourself and each other better and each of you develops a greater understanding of the other. It helps you to focus on what to look forward to and it enhances the likelihood of resolving issues.
It also helps you to appreciate that when expectations are not met it’s likely that the trouble is with your expectations and not with the relationship.
It helps you realize that marriage is invariably between two unique individuals.
It also helps you to appreciate that the friction in your marriage is no different than the friction most couples face. It makes you realize that no spouse can be expected to live up to all of your expectations.
Next is the question of how you match expectations.
Basically resolving differences in expectations is to balance the levels of expectations: not setting the bar too low or demand too much. The closer we can get our expectations to line up with the truth, the less hurt we will experience.
Accept the fact that your spouse is a person with strengths and limitations – just like you.
Research has found that the longest-married couples are down-to-earth people who didn’t expect a perfect marriage and focused on enjoying their relationship while tolerating the differences between them. The key words are adapt and adjust.
Don’t expect your spouse to change. Don’t expect unconditional love. And don’t expect your partner to be a mind reader. Express your misgivings and arrive at solutions acceptable to both.
Never assume that your partner knows all your needs and wants. On no account expect your spouse to be your mirror image. Marriage is a union between two distinct individuals.
At the end of this analysis if you have been able to differentiate between expectations that make you happy and expectations that hurt you, you have taken the first big step in the right direction.
Learn to treat your spouse with the same tenderness and respect as you did during the first months of marriage.