For an overview of this 4-part series please read the previous blog – https://turningpagesbookshop.com/what-is-really-going-on-in-our-relationships/
Part 1 – Assess and Recreate Expectations
It can be hard to keep a long-term relationship strong and happy. We are bombarded on a daily basis from many outside influences, not to mention within the relationship itself. No one gives us the tools to make it work, so that we are happy, and our relationship stays healthy and strong.
When we start a new relationship, we bring our own baggage and expectations. We also may bring our own unique unprocessed emotions and behaviours that play a huge role in all our relationships.
Before we can fix someone else and minimise unmet expectations, we need to assess and adjust ourselves. So, it’s important to:
- Identify your own expectations.
- Set boundaries.
- Be truthful.
- Don’t let others influence you.
- Remember that no relationship is perfect.
- Honestly consider, “Are my expectations realistic?”
Identify your own expectations
First, what is an expectation?
The Oxford Dictionary defines expectation as “a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future.” In other words, an expectation is an assumption that a certain event or action will occur.
In the context of relationships, expectations are often unquestioned assumptions that someone ought to say or do something, rather than the informed prediction that they may.
What are your relationship/partner expectations?
For this to work it is vital that you are 100% honest with yourself here. Do you often feel disappointed with your partner and think about ending it?
We have to remember it wasn’t so long ago that marriage was not a partnership based on love, fidelity, friendship, and laughter. Before Victorian era, relationships were mostly business based, often set up by parents in the attempt to form allegiances farms or countries. There was no pressure to love forever or be your partner’s best friend. And fidelity was rarely even discussed.
The idea of relationships and marriage has changed dramatically. The expectations of such a union are heavily based on the romanticized idea that has been developed in movies and reality television. Today marriage and relationships are more expected to define us and be the central purpose of our lives. With this idea comes many and often very unrealistic expectations.
This idea of marriage is not sustainable, and literally more than half the time ends in divorce or the breakdown of the relationship.
There is a very simple way to fix this problem of unmet expectations. Assess your expectations! Take into consideration how long you and your partner have been together and if you have other people or circumstances impacting your relationship as it is now.
What do you feel you need from your partner?
- Do you need them to give up their friends and hobbies to spend all their time with you?
- Do you expect sex every night?
- Do you feel your partner is responsible for your happiness?
- Do you want your partner to keep the house spotless at all times?
- Do you expect your partner to anticipate your needs?
To help make things clearer for you, make a list of your expectations. It doesn’t matter how long or short your list is. The exercise is to give yourself a clear understanding of your own expectations.
- Involve your partner in this process, so they too make a list of their own expectations, so you can work together to strengthen and develop a healthy relationship.
- Read through and discuss each other’s expectations. Make sure this is a calm, respectful discussion. Remember we are only trying to get a better understanding of each other at this point.
Once you know your expectations, it’s time to set boundaries.
When we set clear boundaries, there is an expectation (there’s that word again) that they will be respected by both parties. This helps us know what to anticipate in our relationship. Agreed upon boundaries gives partners a layer of security that helps build trust.
Boundaries create a strong basis to build your relationship and help support it as it grows and develops.
This one can take some discussion and thought. Boundaries can come in many forms, and you have to find what works best for you and your partner.
Some examples are:
- Make sure you stay yourself and are not expected to change
- Keep the power dynamic equal
- Communication is important and should be consistent
- Allow yourselves time apart
- Mutual respect is required at all times
- Make time for both sides of the family
- Respect the other’s friends, family, and hobbies
- Both parties are responsible for all children, biological or otherwise/or not
- Make time for each other
This list will be different for every couple. It’s important that you both as a couple decide what is best for your relationship.
It’s very important that if you feel your expectations are not being met, that you speak to your partner about it. It’s also important that if your partner comes to you with this concern, you are willing to listen and communicate with them about it calmly and openly.
Never assume that your partner should know what you need. It is not secret that men and women are in fact a mystery to each other, and we generally will not know what the other is thinking. It’s just how it is, and we have to be excepting of it if we truly want to be happy.
This is why communication is so important.
Discussing your expectations will allow the two of you to figure out if the expectations are reasonable and, if not, how you can compromise around something that would work for both of you.
If you don’t, if you sit and simmer about your needs not being met, your relationship will not stay healthy.
Be aware of others influences
Don’t let others influence you!
Think about how many times you have become resentful of your partner because of something someone else has said. He would do that for you if he loved you! She should keep the house cleaner! You shouldn’t have to work around the house, you work all week! I wouldn’t let him do that!
We are all guilty of having a little whine to our friends or family members about our partners. But it’s important that we don’t let other people’s opinions encroach on our relationships.
It is important that you recognize that your relationship is just that, your relationship. Especially, when you have worked through this process and agreed on your expectations and boundaries as a couple.
Remember No Relationship Is Perfect
Keep in mind that one person cannot be everything, all the time for you. They are often expected to be your best friend, your confident, your supporter, your lover, your partner in crime. But even if they are all those things, reality is that they will still have their own beliefs, ideas and expectations and they may sometimes create tension or conflict in the relationship. But that is okay!
When we enter into relationships expecting perfection, we will only be disappointed. Knowing that your relationship will not be your sole focus in your life, that you will need to have things outside the relationship and that you and your partner won’t blend into one person, will help you avoid disappointed and keep your relationship on a forward track to happiness.
Assess If Your Expectations Are Realistic
Do you have expectations that aren’t being met and is that is why you are losing that loving feeling?
Looking over your list of expectations, be truthful to yourself. Would you be happy if the expectations you have listed were assumed for you?
Have your partner do the same, and calmly discuss both lists and what is acceptable and what is not, and why. Be open and considerate of your partner’s feelings and concerns.
Once you and your partner have worked through this process and agreed on what is fair and will work for the both of you, you are well on your way to a strong, enduring relationship and happiness.
For more great information on relationship expectations click on the following link: https://risepsychology.com/blog/2017/8/30/relationshipexpectations