The key to maintaining a happy and fulfilling relationship is understanding how to effectively navigate your expectations and prioritize what's most important: your standards.
While standards can be seen as a type of expectation, not all expectations are realistic or constructive. In this article, we'll explore when expectations can be beneficial versus when they are detrimental to a long-lasting and loving relationship.
All Expectations Are Not Created Equal
Think of expectations as existing on a spectrum. On one end, there are personal opinions about how you would like your partner to behave while on the other end are standards that you have set for yourself based on your core values.
While most expectations are simply nice-to-haves, such as wanting your partner to bring you breakfast in bed every morning, your standards are non-negotiable. They align with your core values and define the kind of relationship you desire based on your self-worth. These typically include honesty, fidelity, a willingness to compromise, etc. It's essential to identify your standards before entering a relationship to ensure compatibility and establish a strong foundation.
Navigating Expectations in Relationships
Whether you've modeled your ideal relationship after your parents, a character in a romance novel, or a culmination of heart breaking lessons learned, chances are you have expectations about how your relationship should be. Like any personal opinion, these expectations can be harmless if treated as possibilities rather than absolute truths. Unfortunately, many couples fail to manage their expectations effectively, leading them down the path of disappointment. Here are a few ways you can avoid the same pitfall:
1. Express Your Expectations
Expectations become most problematic when kept to oneself. Let's consider Sarah as an example. She recently married her partner, Ben. When they first started dating, Ben would give her a kiss on the forehead before leaving for work. Enjoying this display of affection, Sarah expected Ben to continue their little tradition. However, as time went on, the forehead kisses became few and far between. Instead of addressing her expectation, Sarah silently internalized her disappointment, feeling as though she shouldn't have to ask. The case of Sarah and Ben is all too common and can lead to rising feelings of neglect. Fortunately, it has a simple fix: communication! Rather than assuming that your partner automatically knows your expectations, clearly express them and encourage an open dialogue where both of you can share your desires.
2. Be Open to Compromise
While communication is the first step in understanding each other's expectations, it does not guarantee that you’ll agree. In situations where your expectations conflict with each other, compromise is essential. Consider the example of Tim and Kelly. Tim grew up believing that married couples should share their finances equally through a joint account. However, Kelly, his girlfriend, owns a property and expects to keep a portion of her finances separate when they get married. These expectations directly conflict with one another. Tim expects Kelly to conform to his plan, believing it to be better for their relationship. However, this mindset can quickly lead to resentment. Each person has a right to their own opinions. Instead of assuming your partner will bend to your expectations, focus on respecting each other's perspectives and working together to find common ground.
3. Allow Room for Imperfection
Once you have both agreed on expectations, remember that your partner is human and may fall short at times. If that happens, support your partner by offering gentle reminders, leading by example, or sitting down together to reassess whether your expectations are realistic. Regardless of the situation, approaching it with patience and compassion can spare both you and your partner the bitter taste of disappointment.
Expectations play a significant role in creating and maintaining the relationship you desire. While your standards are deal breakers rooted in your core values, most expectations require ongoing dialogue, compromise, and understanding. By effectively managing your expectations, you can cultivate a fulfilling and harmonious relationship.
Disclaimer: The information provided here is for general informational purposes only. Please do not use the information provided here as a replacement for therapy or professional advice. For the full disclaimer policy, please refer to www.flamme.app/disclaimer.