Great Expectations

Is Your Marriage Suffering from the Failure to Meet Each Other’s Expectations?

It’s the last day of your diet plan. You spent the last few weeks exerting every ounce of self-control to stick to your guns and achieve your weight-loss goals. You counted your calories with the zeal of a Colombian drug lord. You resisted the temptations of the break room treats and their promises of salty sweet thrills. You pried your exhausted body from a warm bed to walk aimlessly and crusty-eyed on a noisy treadmill. All for what? A meager three-pound weight loss that suspiciously equals the weight of your pajamas and early morning bowel movement?

You’re in the last stretch of a mountainously long work day. You’ve spent the last forty five minutes snailing your way through rush hour traffic after a flurry of redundant meetings and a mad dash to meet unrealistic deadlines. You arrive home worn out and ready for a well-earned reprieve. You fantasize about a hot meal in front of your favorite TV show. As you begin prepping, you realize that, once again, your beloved partner was playing Iron Chef and dirtied up all the dishes you need to make your dinner.

Relationship Problems Stem from Unmet Expectations

The root of the dissatisfaction we experience in life is caused by failure to meet expectations. Not convinced? Let me break it down. I want you to recall the last time in which you were feeling dissatisfied. Now, take it a step further and finish this sentence: I was dissatisfied because I, he, she, or it did not BLANK.

The failure to meet that seemingly innocent blank is responsible for a lot of negative feelings we have toward ourselves and others. That, my friends, is the byproduct of failing to meet expectations.

Now I am not a big fan of insight because sometimes an “aha moment” can be just as useless as a light bulb during an Alaskan summer. You know its there; you understand its function, yet, you are not provided with opportunities to use it.

In this case, you can actually use this insight to improve the quality of your marriage by following these four simple steps:

  1. Engage in a conscious assessment of your thoughts and feelings at all times. We are often walking around on auto pilot with minimum attention paid to what is going on in our heads and hearts. Having that conscious awareness will allow you to have a clear picture of your expectations of yourself and others.
  2. Be aware of strengths and weaknesses of yourself and of those who are around you. This will allow you to develop realistic and achievable expectations. In other words, the more realistic your expectations are, the less likely you and others will fail in meeting them.
  3. Express and communicate about those expectations. For self-expectations, it’s like reading aloud an important email before sending it. You get the chance to catch some of the things that should be corrected. With expectations of others, this opens up the dialogue between you and them, not only to inform them about what it is you are expecting, but more importantly to see if what you are expecting of them is something that they are willing and capable of doing.
  4. Last but not least, come up with a concrete and flexible plan that you and others can follow to assure that those expectations are met. A good plan is one that is adaptive to accommodate the many challenges that we face daily. Not only will this plan give you a roadmap to meet those expectations, but it will also give you a tool to track your progress.

But most of all:

Take charge of your life and seize your happily ever after.


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