If we could be honest, we go into relationships with an expectation . If our expectations are not met, there is a strong chance that they become the reason for riffs and challenges in a relationship. Since being in a relationship and witnessing others in them, I’ve noticed that there are usually three different aspects of expectations that can cause great times or bad times: unspoken, unrealistic, and unmet. We’re often oblivious to their existence until things become rocky and even then, if there is no one to point out these expectations to us, we’ll go on in our relationships without knowledge of them.
Unspoken: These are the expectations that we simply do not express. Sometimes, we may not even know that we have these expectations until we realize that they’re not being met. These types of expectations could range from an expectation to always pay for things to the expectation for a partner to cook more. These types of expectations can lead to a partner feeling inadequate without them even knowing why. When we began dating, my husband knew that I wasn’t the type of woman who liked to cook. I was willing to try and willing to learn more recipes but when it came down to it, I really wasn’t the cooking type. He had an expectation that even though I didn’t like to, that I would cook more once we became more serious and especially when we got married. Unfortunately, because he never expressed that expectation, I assumed that he was ok with being the main person cooking in our relationship. I have a great friend that married a man and expected him to be the primary bread-winner in the family once he graduated from grad school. Instead she found herself working long hours every day and coming home to him relaxing on the couch. Her unspoken expectation (that was not met) became a reason for her to be resentful towards him. Had she expressed herself, there is a possibility that things could have changed. He could have changed his behavior so that she felt less stressed, more appreciated and if nothing else, that communication between them would have lessened her chances of being resentful.
Unrealistic: These are my favorite types of expectations. I come across so many people in relationships, or those desiring relationships, that have the most unrealistic expectations. For example, if you get into relationship with a person whose weakness is planning or a person that is not naturally spontaneous, it’s unfair for you to expect them to be those things. I can recall so many times where I’ve been frustrated with my husband in the beginning because he was not the spontaneous, adventure type of person. It wasn’t that he wasn’t willing, he just naturally wasn’t the one to initiate a spontaneous outing. We have to wake up to the reality of the relationship that we’ve committed to. You can’t marry a Pastor and then expect ministry to not be a big part of their life. If you get into relationship with a person or even marry a person that expressed that they didn’t want children, how can you be upset with them when they feel the same way 4 years later? You can’t. As much as you would like their desires to be equal to yours, they just won’t’ be. Unrealistic expectations often make me chuckle because we as humans often think we can change who our partners are simply by desiring for them to be different. While I understand the reasoning, the truth is, we just can’t.
Even when it comes to those that desire to be in a relationship; there are often unrealistic expectations that you require the other person to meet. Every educated woman wants a man with a master’s degree and every ambitious man wants a woman with her own business and a fancy car. Again, while I understand the logic, the expectations are not realistic. Love and contentment are not found in surface and irrational expectations. I know that as much as I wanted my husband to be the type of man who would argue with me or give me the slick response that I was baiting for, he’s just not that type. And expecting him to do so was a waste of energy.
Unmet: These are the expectations that have been expressed, and are realistic but are still not being met. Expectations like these can be detrimental in a relationship. They are the ones that usually cause repetitive arguments between you and your partner. One of our unmet expectations that caused argument was our issue with one another’s’ thought process. Whenever I would become stuck in a particular way of thinking, my husband would try to help me by aggressively telling me what I should do; which would cause me to regress and become frustrated. Our reoccurring argument would be “Why can’t you talk to me in a way that would help me” and he would argue” why can’t you just take my advice?” We later realized that he literally didn’t know how to help me any other way and I didn’t know how to help him, help me. I was expressing and expecting him to change the way he was helping me and he was expressing that he was trying. We have friends whose unmet expectation in their home is how often and to what degree the home should be cleaned. While the expectation was expressed, and even agreed upon, it would still go unmet. These unmet expectations cause the expectant to be upset and even feel as if their feelings and desires do not matter.
Evaluate yourself; whether you’re in a relationship or not. Are your expectations unspoken? Unrealistic? Unmet? Do you have needs in your life that you’re expecting someone to fill even though it may not be their place to do so? Work towards having healthy expectations and examine why you have the ones that you have. You may be surprised at the result.