If you were expecting your partner to get home at 12:00 midnight and they got home at 10:00 pm you may be pleasantly surprised. If however you were expecting them home at 4:00 pm and they got home at 10:00 pm you may be furious, especially if they had not let you know that they would be late. They would have arrived home at the same time in both instances, what is different is your expectations. At times our expectations can cause us a lot of unnecessary distress. Expectations, especially if they are unrealistic, will lead to frustration and disappointment.
If frustration and disappointment are feelings that you are frequently experiencing in your relationship, then it may be helpful to take a look at your expectations. A good place to begin is to actually get your expectations out into the open. Often we have hidden expectations of each other. Things that we expect our partner to know and do, just because that is the way it should be. At times it can be as simple as, we are not getting what we want and need because our partner is unaware of that want or need. It is important to clearly communicate your expectations to your partner. You can only do this when you are clear on what your expectations are.
Before you communicate your expectations to your partner try writing them out and asking yourself, “How realistic are these expectations?” “Do I expect the same kind of behavior from myself?” “Might there be another way to look at this?” “How can I make my expectations more realistic and at the same time remain true to myself?”
You will want to remain firm when it comes to expectations arising from your values and principles. For example it is always reasonable to expect to be treated respectfully in your relationship. It is also reasonable to expect your partner to be honest and open with you. However when it comes to expectations based on preference it is important to be flexible. Which route to take to get from a to b, where you go to eat, what entertainment or activities are all examples of expectation, which if they are causing frustration and disappointment, may need to be adjusted or better communicated to your partner. Remember that, if you have trouble agreeing, you always have the option of taking turns when it comes to decisions based on preference.
Susan Page said, “The expectation that you can have everything you want in your marriage will always be frustrated. If you can accept your spouse, be grateful for what you have, and be gracious about the things you don't get from your spouse, you are more likely to thrive as a couple.”