Expectations and Disappointment
Expectations of ourselves and each other and our lives are alive and well within us whether we speak of them or not, whether we are conscious of them or not. Quite often they are assumptions which we haven’t made conscious to ourselves. We may also be expecting things from our partners which we think we have agreed a long time ago, but of which they are completely unaware or have totally forgotten. We assume because we know what we expect that they do too. We may be judging them for not behaving in tune with our expectations when we haven’t even made them clear or they have faded into the background over the years. This is often a source of pain and disappointment to both sides of the relationship. One who is endlessly disappointed and the other who can’t work out what they’re doing wrong. This can be the same for each of you.
Another important thing to note is that expectations can change over time as our stages in life change. What we expected from each other in our 20s is different if we’ve had kids or matured into our 30s and 40s. We are at different stages in our careers, have had different experiences and become either co-workers or co-parents, or both. We will have adapted to cope with these stages, but not necessarily agreed them out loud. There will have been opportunities for resentments to build up because of the lack of communication of expectations, intentions and aspirations, as well as what we are each prepared to offer the other. This can threaten the relationship and increase the possibility of growing apart.
Here are some tips to help you move forwards so both of you can get more of what you want from your relationship.
- Make sure you have your regular date night. It is important so that you can keep or re-establish connection with each other and remember who you are as a couple. This will make the conversation around expectations, intentions and aspirations and so much easier.
- Get really clear about what it is you want from life for yourself, from your partner and relationship, and in general. Sometimes this is really hard. We aren’t always used to asking ourselves what we want. In our culture, we still have “I want doesn’t get” and we are often conditioned to be self-sacrificing and look after the needs of others at our own expense. If it is hard for you to think about what you want, it can be useful to look at all the things you don’t want and tease out the opposite. Just a list can be good if journaling isn’t your thing.
- You could start a conversation with your partner about what they want from life for themselves, with you and in life and share some of the things on your list. Gently getting this all out into the open can be surprising. You may find out all sorts of things that you didn’t know.
- Through all of this, cultivate an attitude of curiosity and not taking things personally. Just hear your partner. Ask them to do the same with you.
- At this point you could then begin to talk about what life would be like if you had it all your own way and ask them what life would be like if they had it their own way. From then you can begin a negotiation, sometimes thinking out-of-the-box to enable you both to get more of what you want in life and from each other. An expectation if just stated baldly and out of the blue could feel like a demand and pressure. With this preparation it becomes a suggestion and a request which gives much more room for manoeuvre. The response becomes a choice and a gift and is much more likely to be forthcoming.
My name is Heather Garbutt and I have been a psychotherapist for over 40 years and a Love and Relationship Coach for the last 7 years. I specialise in coaching people who have been disappointed in their love relationships to find true, committed, romantic love. Last year I contributed to 3 marriages, 4 new relationships and 2 new babies for women and men who had given up on the possibility of these joys in their lives.
I have my own podcast, “Revolutionise Your Love Life”, a regular blog and writes regularly for a variety of publications including Hello! Magazine, The Metro and Liz Earle publications