Manage your expectations. A crucial statement that has always left me wondering, especially where relationships are concerned. After all, don’t we all have some things that need to be met? Isn’t this, I believe, the reason we choose the people we want to be with, because we know they can meet these things?
Picture this. You’re in love. You have met the ‘ONE’. You know that you are destined to be together. You have always prayed for someone who will understand you, care for you, love you the way that you expect to be loved, and one who truly feels you. Behold, there he is. There she stands.
Look at me. I got married not too many years back. When I finally met my husband, I knew that I had found a companion, one who would walk with me in this journey of life till death do us part, et cetera. Oh, I had such a high level of expectancy for our relationship to work, as there are many instances around us of marriages that have, or are, not working. I wanted ours to be part of the Working Group. Like really, I did. And we needed to do a lot of things together. That was my view.
I should have seen realism coming.
You see, I love talking, spending time with people, traveling, singing and enjoying outdoor activities. I am that extroverted. However, my husband is quite the opposite! Telling him, or rather recommending, that we should try reading books together was funny. He found it funny. How would this even work, he opined. Or getting to choose a movie to watch together? As soon as the lion roared during the intro of a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) produced film, he would be so fast asleep! It got to me. Like, seriously, it really did. We were supposed to be watching the movie together, remember?
I expected he would lead our family devotions on a daily basis, because I had seen my father do it. Or I needed certain things to work the same way they did when we met and fell in love! I know, I know, there’s a load of relative factors that would certainly affect that initial period, factors like children, work or even health. But, oh boy, I still should have seen realism coming.
Expectations. Positive, genuine expectations. But were they realistic?
As I get to talk and mentor younger ladies, it really does come out that we do put unrealistic expectations on the other person, even during dating. Ladies expect to be treated like queens from onset till day in, day out. Men expect to be treated like kings all through infinity.
Expectations are good, but they can also lead to moments of disappointment. Moments that make one have thoughts of leaving their spouses because one’s needs were not met. Moments that leave you pulling your hair, wondering whether your spouse hails from the same planet as you do, despite you forgetting that such feelings usually have their vice-versa, since you are no saint either.
And yet, even though we need to manage our expectations, there’s always that fear that failure to air them would ensure no right to raising the matter in the future. Failure to state one’s chosen desires would be a ticket for a spouse to get away with issues.
When I look back, I realize there have been so many instances where I have had unrealistic expectations of my husband. And so I remember the words of those that have gone ahead of me clearly ringing in my head, manage your expectations.
When expectations are too high, we easily get frustrated, dissatisfied, perturbed. Dismayed. There’s also the risk that you could lose your objectivity, since you are emotionally driven. And then, you begin to wonder, did I get married to the right person? Did I do the right thing? And more reasons emerge as to why we should no longer be married to our spouses. Because we are disappointed with them. But again, when the expectations are too low, others may walk all over us. We can become doormats.
One of the issues my husband had, or still has, is that I expect him to read my mind and guess what is disturbing me. It’s obvious to me, but surely, it isn’t obvious to him. He is not a mind reader and it is only fair that I articulate the issue for him to appreciate what is going on. Now, that is realistic.
It’s possible for your spouse to forget your birthday (luckily mine doesn’t). It’s possible for you to remember that they are human and not your savior, that they will fail at some point (and so will you), that all your needs wont be met or that life isn’t fair and things in marriage may not need to be done fairly. And that you aren’t capable of changing them (only God can).
Quoting Michael J. Fox, your happiness grows in direct proportion to your acceptance, and in inverse proportion to your expectations. Leo Buscaglia adds, ‘never idealize others. They will never live up to your expectations’. And even Deadpool’s Ryan Reynolds has an advice for you: When you have expectations, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Finally, Proverbs 24:14, “Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off.”
Managing expectations, as I have come to find out, is a day to day learning experience. There are times you will get it. And there are many times you wont. But you still journey forward. I had to assess my unrealistic expectations and remain with realistic ones.
Needless to say, I am still on that journey.
I have learned that as long as I hold fast to my beliefs and values – and follow my own moral compass – then the only expectations I need to live up to are my own. ~ Michelle Obama