We constantly hear how important expectations are in relationships. However, many expectations in relationships are not discovered until they are NOT met by your partner. When this happens suddenly expectations become a big deal and have the potential to become a wedge in any relationship.
It can be difficult to acknowledge, monitor and understand some expectations you may have, because they are developed and picked up throughout life. We can unintentionally create expectations as a result of watching our parents’ behavior with each other. Or, expectations can be created from experiences in past relationships. Finally, media has a strong influence on expectations, as well as, what we are told by others (friends and family).
For example, you may have the expectation that your spouse will immediately come to you and try to work out a disagreement because you saw this behavior in your own parents. If you become involved with a person who does not do this, but withdraws for a few minutes to calm down after a disagreement, your expectation could be unfulfilled and it could leave you feeling like your relationship has some major flaw.
So, anytime you can recognize an expectation you have and where that expectation was developed, you are heading in the right direction. Talk to your partner about the expectation, how you developed it and what parts of the expectation you would like to keep and what can be let go. Talking about expectations can eliminate ambiguity and confusion in the relationship.
Expectations can affect your level of happiness in a relationship. Each individual has their own expectations in any intimate relationship, but they also have their own perception of reality. It is between these expectations and perceptions of reality that we can see the level of happiness in a relationship. Research has shown that the smaller the distance between our expectations and our perceptions of reality, the happier we are. On the flip side, the further our expectations are from our perception of reality the less satisfied we are.
Perceptions of reality and expectations can change throughout any relationship. However, having slightly higher expectations then your actual perception of reality is a positive! The reason being that when our expectations are slightly higher we have a motivation to grow.
The take home message is to work on recognizing your expectations and then talk to your partner about them. Be flexible and try to create new or different expectations that will help you and your relationship grow.
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