I’ve read more about one particular subject this year than I care to admit. According to pundits, this one area appears to be the downfall of every relationship. And we’re all guilty of practicing this behavior.
You won’t find this snippet of language on George Carlin’s list of Dirty Words. It’s not four letters, doesn’t start with an F or an S, and you can’t really use it as a nickname for a piece of human anatomy. No one will call you forward to testify in front of Congress for using it. (WARNING: For those of you too young to know who George Carlin is, do not watch this at work. It’s an instant trip to the Human Resources Department. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)
Expectations. Specifically, unrealistic expectations.
We’re told not to have high ones, to keep expectations low (especially when divorcing a narcissist), and perhaps remove them from our list of relationship must-haves. But are they really destructive?
What are they? Simply defined, expectations a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future. We have expectations on how we want others to treat us (ie. don’t call each other derogatory names, be on time, act kindly towards each other).
Relationship expectations are simply what you expect from the people in your personal relationships. From your co-worker to your best friend to your spouse, you have expectations of everyone in your life. You expect your boss or your human resources representative to hand you a paycheck on pay day. You expect your parents to remember to call on your birthday. ~ Read more at BeliefNet
Why, then, are they considered “bad”? Expecting a spouse to read our minds, solve a problem in the same way we would, or handle the children perfectly are all unrealistic expectations.
If you set your expectations too high however, and the person does not meet your standards, you are the one who winds up feeling sad or angry. ~ Read more at BeliefNet
I have expectations I expect from my partner (past, present, future, my expectations remain the same). Are these standards too high, eventually leading to my marriage downfall?
- Hold my hair out of the toilet when I’m bent over sick and nauseous from the flu (or cancer, if it ever came to that)
- Laugh with me as Howard makes a spit ball and shoots it into Sheldon’s mouth (a heavy Big Bang reference gives you an idea of what I find funny)
- Hug me when I cry on the day Son #1 moves out, not because I’m sad but because I’m proud
- Allow me to be the weak one occasionally. Even I can’t carry it all 100% of the time. My over-responsible parts need a break every now and then.
- Comfort me when I’m scared, it’s not every day I have an operation
- Be my bug killer (because you know they give me the heebie jeebies)
- Act as my food critic and give me an honest opinion on my cooking (even with my Pinterest fails)
I have a couple of very basic relational expectations. These are my foundation blocks for a marriage and without them, filling the above list is off the table:
- I expect monogamy
- I expect friendship
- I expect cohabitation
- I expect sex
Maybe expectations aren’t necessarily “bad” but more like emotional “boundaries” as to what I’m willing to put up with and what I’m willing to walk away from.
Now I think I’ll turn my attention to the next item we’re conditioned to shy away from in a relationship – Expectation’s red-headed step-child, Reliance.