His parents had a relationship like this, and her parents had a relationship like that. Put man and wife together and bam! Their expectations of what a marriage should be like are quite different. Neither of them are wrong, per say, just had though marriage should be blue when it turned out to be red.
So many couples fall into the expectations trap. People in general use their past experiences or observations to try to predict what will happen in the future. But why do we even try to predict the future? It gives us a sense of security. We generally dislike the unknown; it scares us like a kid is scared of the dark. When we can’t see what’s ahead, we tend to get cold feet. So we try to formulate a possible future, which is what then can morph into what we then expect will happen.
What happens when reality doesn’t equal our expectations?
Disappointment and more fear.
The bad thing about expectations is that it becomes a way of life, even when life doesn’t turn out the way we expect. Instead of discounting our expectations, we simply discount the person or the situation in which we find ourselves. All of this to continue to make ourselves feel like we have some sort of control or insight into our lives. It’s a huge trap we probably don’t even realize we are caught in.
It’s time to stop the expectations trap
Expectations rarely help anyone. While we can think about possible future scenarios at times, we cannot come to expect certain outcomes. How can we stop the expectations trap? Here are five ways:
1. Have a Little Faith
Stepping into the dark will require you to trust your partner and yourself. Have a little faith! You’ve made it this far together, right? Take your partner’s hand and just go for it. When you both encounter a new situation, place, venture, or what have you, try to focus on the fact that you are both going through it together instead of the scariness of it. Have the attitude that “whatever will be will be.” Of course you can prepare for the worst, but also hope for the best.
2. Focus on Today
When you are too caught up in figuring out what tomorrow will bring, you are missing out on the amazing things that can happen in the here and now. Maybe you’re nervous about your husband leaving for a long business trip. Instead of thinking about all of your expectations about how you will say goodbye and when you should call each other, focus on today. You are still together now, so make the most of it. Don’t let future expectations spoil the happiness you could have now.
3. Talk it Out
The only way you and your partner will know what the other person is thinking and expecting is to talk about it. Facing your first holiday season together? Talk about your family traditions, and discuss which ones you really want to keep going forward as you form your own family. This will help keep expectations to a healthy level and not leave anyone in the dark. If you fail to talk about things, someone will end up being disappointed; they will expect you to just “know” how things will go. Don’t be afraid to speak your heart, even about the little things.
4. Cut Yourself Some Slack
When we think of our future selves, we probably picture a thinner, more successful version of ourselves. Is it attainable? Maybe. Is it healthy to try to be that person? Sure, within reason. But let’s be clear here. Sometimes we make our goals unattainable, or maybe something happens in our lives that get in the way, such as health problems or career setbacks. So our expectations for ourselves never get met, and in the process we just feel miserable and like a failure. Cut yourself some slack! Stop expecting so much of yourself. Find the balance between being your best self and being who you can be in this moment. Realize that there is no deadline, and there is also no one grading you but yourself.
5. Meet Your Partner Where They Are
Just like you did in #4, do the same for your partner. They are going through some stuff. They have faults they are working on, that they want to do better at, but sometimes they will fail. Don’t set your expectations of them so high that they can never attain them. Chances are, they are already doing that for themselves. Simply meet your partner where they are. Know that they are a great person capable of great things, but that they are human. And you love them no matter what.