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  • Work on Expectation Setting for a Happy Relationship

    Work on Expectation Setting for a Happy Relationship

    find happiness in marriage

    Recently, a couple came to see me stating that they were struggling to find happiness in their marriage. This is usually the main reason couples come to see me; something has happened to block the connection between the two people sitting in front of me. As the couple details their complaints, the same pattern always arises. One partner feels unappreciated, while the other feels alone in the marriage. This pattern ultimately leads to what I refer to as “The Great Divide.” I sat down to think about what leads to this great divide, and have found one thing to be a huge contributing factor: we have lost our village.  What happened to our village?

    Over-reliance on one partner to fulfil your expectations is unfair

    We have all heard the age-old saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” The African proverb is a saying used to note the importance of others in a young child’s life.  Yet to me, it is clear that the village is not only there to support the growing child, but the parents who work tirelessly to raise those tiny humans.

    What happens if we remove the village? We see a person, isolated, attempting to juggle more balls than humanly possible. Which then leads to what? An overreliance on their partner, and we can’t expect our partner to be the only person who helps fill our bucket. Expecting one person to fill your bucket sets them up for failure. When they aren’t able to meet the expectations you have set, the person often begins to feel like they aren’t loved, and they withdrawal. The other partner feels like nothing they do is good enough, so they withdrawal. Thus, the creations of the great divide.

    Over-reliance on one partner to fulfil your expectations is unfair

    Examine how realistic your expectations are

    So, what do we do about it? First, we need to acknowledge the importance of the village. The generations who came before didn’t do it alone; we shouldn’t either. Second, we need to identify who is worthy of being part of our village. Not everyone we meet is worthy of knowing our story, and not everyone is worthy of being a part of our village. Lastly, we need to take a minute to examine the expectations we have for not only ourselves but also our partners. Are they realistic? I encourage you to take a minute and ask yourself, “Am I expecting more than my partner can provide?” If the answer is, “yes” then it is time to create your village.


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    Jessica L. Hutchison is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, and Certified Family Trauma Professional specializing in grief and loss therapy for individuals, couples and families. Her desire to assist those who are grieving and dedication to educating current and future clinicians on the topic of complicated grief was heightened after losing her father to suicide in 2011. She co-founded www.oursideofsuicide.com, a site dedicated to offering hope, comfort and support to survivors of a suicide loss. She also speaks publicly to groups and the media about her personal experience with loss. Jessica has also developed a number of continuing education programs on the topics of sudden, traumatic and violent loss to educate clinicians on how the grief process differs from that of a natural loss. Jessica consults with clinicians around the country through her website, www.JLHutchison. Jessica is in private practice in Chicago, IL.
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