Prior to getting married, I had several expectations of my eventual wife. I had set a schedule of day-to-day chores, how arguments were to go, what my wife was to do for our home, our family, and me and how we were to behave in bed (don’t lie, you did this too).
Unfortunately, I did not share any of these expectations with my wife before or after marriage. They were unspoken. As unfair as that may seem, I was unaware that I had to tell her what I was thinking for our marriage in terms of what to expect. I mean, she should have been able to just read my mind … right?!
Expectations (or assumptions) are a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future with or without that something being addressed. Unless you let your spouse know what you expect, you are treating them unfairly. No one – I mean no one – can live up to an unspoken expectation. You are without a doubt setting them up for failure and you are the only person to blame.
“Peace begins when expectations end.” – Sri Chinmoy
Since expectations vary from person-to-person, they aren’t easily guessed. But, I can say with certainty that left unexpressed they will have a negative effect on any relationship.
Here are a few unspoken yet expected examples, either of you or for you:
- cleans the house
- shopping makes her happy
- takes care of the kids
- cooks dinner
- is a trophy to her husband
- gets hair and nails done
- is an excellent host
- isn’t a nag
- cannot make more money than her husband
- is the bread-winner
- pays the bills / balances the checkbook
- watches football on the weekend
- fixes his wife’s problem
- never cries in front of his wife
- mows the lawn
- likes ties and socks as gifts
- requires time with the fellas
- needs 30 minutes to wind-down after work
Source of those expectations –
- Unconscious impressions gathered from your parents, family, friends, television shows and even commercials
- Expecting the other person to provide your personal happiness or fulfillment
- Projecting onto someone else how you want them to be
- Our family values and traditions
- Past relationships
- Past experiences
- Ideas, habits, thoughts, concepts, etc.
As I mentioned earlier, my marriage, possibly like many, began with several unspoken expectations. One specific example, I expected to never, and I mean never, argue. I watched my parents argue all the time and it always ended with ‘I want a divorce.’ For me, arguments were just a way for one person to request an end to the marriage instead of a tool to communicate and work things out. Fortunately God sent me someone that I was willing to fight (argue with). She helped me to learn that an argument was just a way to gain understanding and truth, while occasionally raising your voice in the moment. (Side note: my wife and I have come to a place where we do not raise our voices at each other as a sign of respect.)
If you are dating, engaged, or married, you most likely have some expectations of your significant other. Be honest … you do. If able, take a few minutes and make a list of what you expect in your relationship and from your partner. After you’re done, check off what has been clearly communicated to them. Share your list with your significant other so they know everything you expect from them. Now, you both can have any honest conversation to choose which expectations are realistic and attainable for your day-to-day lives.
BMWK – let’s talk. Do you have unspoken expectations for your spouse or vice / versa? Are they realistic or impossibly unattainable? Have you unconsciously set your spouse up for failure?