This entry (part 2 of 2) is about unrealistic expectations we impose on the role our spouses are supposed to play in our relationship…
In Part 1 of this entry, we covered the following roles we expect our spouses to step into automatically once we are in a relationship:
- religious and spiritual leader;
- best friend;
- business partner;
- intellectual stimulator;
- personal life coach; and
- romantic lover.
There are a few more to cover…
Your spouse is not your maid. Nothing else to say here. (Sorry guys, can’t really help you out too much here). Be thankful if you have a spouse that takes care of the house or who does the cooking. Show your gratitude with actions and words, and let them know what it means to you. You are lucky indeed.
Ladies, not all men are created equal. So if yours happens to be less handy than his counterparts, do not hammer away at the point: I assure you that he is more than aware of the situation. Accept it and find alternatives. Men are very sensitive about certain things, and their manliness is at the top of the list, so don’t take any cheap shots if your man is lacking here. Not all men will be able to install garage doors, open all jars, or kill all spiders…
When you want or expect something from your partner, be open about it, express yourself clearly and with respect and love, to see whether they can provide you more support in a specific area. It is difficult not to sound clichéd and highlight the importance of communication here, but that is the truth.
Talking about these things is absolutely crucial, because you may now know why are you not being supported the way you would like to be. As a consequence, you will discover or confirm things, and know where you need to readjust in your relationship and expectations.
There is certainly is a difference between a partner who is clueless that you have certain expectations and needs; a partner who knows and cares but doesn’t know what to do about it or does it all wrong or isn’t qualified; a partner who knows but doesn’t know that the expectation is that they should be doing anything about it (and this can be because of their lack of confidence in themselves, and their abilities, and because they underestimate the impact of their words and actions on you); and a partner who knows but doesn’t care enough to do anything about it.
How is your partner supposed to know how you’re feeling and what you’re expecting all the time? Why should they know what mood your in? Give them a chance, and help yourself by explaining what you’re thinking or feeling, and give them time to think about it and see how they can help. And if it is a comedian or entertainer that you need at this specific time, them maybe they will be able to play the role once you have made it clear. But give them a chance. Be lucid and respectful in your communication. If they do something that makes you feel a certain way, then there is a way to express it without making it a personal attack: “I feel blahblahblah when you blahblah.”
You are the one feeling something, and it is as a result of a behaviour or a lack of behaviour on their end. In other words, they are not the problem, their behaviour is causing you a problem. You recognize that you are the one with the problem and that they can do something to help you with what you’re feeling. This is very different from saying something like “you never blahblah” or “you always blahbalh” (which we already know is most likely an exaggeration) and attacking them personally and directly, which will obviously not be welcomed with a smile and a nice word.
So no more standards or expectations and jerks can have their way?
No! Keep your standards high but fair. None of these points are an excuse to justify or enable the behaviour of jerks and morons, but simply a reminder that even the best of us have moments of weakness. We all all get tired, or stressed, or exhausted, or sick, and yes, even moody from time to time, and our behaviours may be less than stellar. Be forgiving, be patient, and don’t lose sight of the good person you love, who may be behaving in an annoying manner at the moment… there is nothing perfect in this world, and you always have a choice to make: do you put your energy in looking at the negatives and the lacks, or do you enjoy the positives and appreciate them and know when it is time to step back and look at the big picture?
(but yes, we all agree that there are jerks out there. These entries are not intended to be applied to jerk-situations… those will require different entries)
In short, be realistic
Make your life easier and more enjoyable by having realistic expectations. Regardless of how much you enjoy each other’s company (and I assure you that one of you may not enjoy it as much as the other after a little while…) you both need to spend time away from each other. You both need to interact with other people.
And regardless of how nice they are, your partner will not always agree with you on everything. Loving someone and being in a relationship does not mean that you give up the right to think and have your own opinions… (again, difference between disagreeing about certain things, and being a jerk about everything).
What does all of this mean?
It means that you also have to recognize that you will never be able to be everything your partner will ever need, for too many reasons to list here. But let’s mention three big ones:
1) people go through different phases in life, and as a result they have different needs and interests. For sure, I hope you don’t think that you can be all they will ever need in all of those phases and circumstances in life!
2) you are simply not that good and important. None of us are. Simply thinking that just because you are you, you can fulfill all of your partner’s needs, and solve all of their problems is quite an arrogant and even delusional attitude. For instance, if your partner needs to be stimulated intellectually, or is suffering from depression or a medical condition, all your affection and love will most likely not even make a dent. Learn to identify where you can make an impact and play that role well. But also learn where others need to be used, and let them play their role too.
3) even if you were that good, and that smart, and that competent, especially in matters involving thoughts and truths and points of view in life, rest assured that you are harming the personality of your partner by discouraging them from being exposed to other perspectives and points of view. Unless you are married to a mentally disabled person, you are most likely underestimating their abilities if you think that you need to keep their thoughts completely sheltered from those of anyone else’s. They have to be exposed, they have to confront their own ideas with those of others, and come up with their own way of seeing the world. Otherwise, you end up living with someone who has no depth to their thought, no confidence in their judgment, no knowledge of how the rest of the world thinks…
…the flip side
Finally, I want to end with the flip side: when your partner has expectations from you, although it is true that these were their expectations, they did not come out of nowhere. They certainly believed that you are that great, that you can really represent that much in their life, that you are all they will ever need in every aspect of life. Unrealistic, utopic, delusional…? maybe, but it does show that they put a lot of ambition and hope in you. And when you disappoint them by constantly reminding them that you are not that deserving of their idealistic dreams, that you shouldn’t be placed on a pedestal… you hurt them and scare them, because they realize that they made a mistake in their judgment. You shake their world, and make them wonder and question and doubt and fear. You may not intend to do that, but that is what you are doing.
Expectations come from trust. If you have expectations from someone, it is in large part because you have a certain level of trust in them. Try never to break the trust that made your partner see all of their hopes in you, because it is quite difficult to rebuild… Instead of breaking their trust and making them regret seeing you in such a positive and great light, and instead of forcing them to lower their standards so much to accept you the way you are, why don’t you consider it your opportunity to step up your game, and prove them right by doing more, and by being more? Who else would you rather impress?!