Lower Your Expectations
What were your expectations of your marriage or relationship when you and partner started out? How many and what kind of expectations did you have? How many of those expectations have been met thus far? If your answer to the last question is, “some but not all,” congratulations. You've been very lucky. You see, often the expectations people take with them into their relationship or marriage, though well intentioned, are often misplaced.
When referring to expectations, I’m not meaning interpersonal boundaries. Boundaries are distinct from expectations. Healthy boundaries help us to define ourselves to others and the world. It is healthy, for example, to expect to not be mistreated, put down, even harmed physically. Your boundaries would define how one would respond if a well conveyed interpersonal line is violated. That is to say, interpersonal boundaries are vehicles with which we “instruct” the world as to how we want to be treated. Healthy boundaries are consciously thought out and communicated to the world verbally and in a wide variety of other ways
The expectations I’m referring to are ones that have to do with one’s partner. These expectations are often unexamined, unlike boundaries. Expectations that are held about a partner often result from wishes and fantasies about how one might imagine a relationship will be. Expectations include but are not limited to; how a partner will behave or how a partner will nurture or protect us. Even expectations that one’s partner will not disappoint you. These kinds of expectations very often result from past family of origin experiences and/or past intimate relationships.
Now what I’m about to say might disappoint you: Disappointment in marriage and relationships is inevitable. It’s going to happen. Inevitably your partner will let you down. Inevitably you will disappoint your partner. To be clear, I’m not talking about intentional disappointment like, passive-aggressive behavior. Nor am I referring to outright antisocial behavior like, assault or battery. What I am referring to here is human behavior. This too might come as a shock but, human beings are not always at their best. This is not to excuse behavior which impacts others in some negative way but, let’s face it, no one is ever at their peak performance level all the time. All of us will, from time to time, disappoint others. We might fail to get that birthday card out to our best friend in time. Or, drop the ball on some aspect of a project at work.
So, if you hold high expectations of and for your partner, when he or she inevitably disappoints you, the impact on you will be great. You might not only feel let down, you might be crushed. How do you avoid being crushed when disappointed? Lower or let go of the expectations you have of your partner altogether. Rather than holding your partner to your expectations, hold yourself to your expectations. If you do, then you can and will be genuinely grateful and pleasantly surprised when your partner does something kind and loving for you. Not only that, when disappointed, the impact on you will not be as great as it would be otherwise.