“Look at the person in front of you right now and realize they’re not going to be the same person tomorrow, and if you can be unattached to them being exactly what you want them to be you’re going to be really happy.”*
I find more and more that in all aspects of life, it’s fundamentally important to set proper expectations. When we expect someone, in our minds, to behave a certain way, and they don’t live up to it, we’re hurt and it creates difficulty within the relationship. Having the willingness to communicate and readjust our expectations can truly diminish the amount of disappointment that we face in life, and allow us to find freedom in accepting that each relationship is completely unique from the next.
In marriage, it’s so important to communicate our expectations, which can be really hard. Sometimes we don’t even know that we have this set of beliefs we are holding our partner up to, but we all do. We expect people to respond a certain way in an argument. We want people to be intuitive to our needs and meet them the way we wish. We expect people to show up and love us in just the right way, but the truth is, how can someone live up to an expectation that has never been clearly communicated?
I remember one of the jobs my husband had early on in our marriage. The company didn’t have a clear training process for the position, and they basically sat him down, shared a few ideas of what his role was going to be, and then said, “When you mess up, we’ll let you know.” Their expectations weren’t clear, even though they were obviously there. They just didn’t know how to communicate them outside of: “Try to do a good job, and if you don’t, we will tell you.” This is a certain path to failure for their employees. Instead of being able to encourage him when he exceeded expectations, it put him in a place where he was often concerned about whether or not he was on the right path. It’s like being in a race and you are shown the start line and told to go. You have no idea where you’re going or where to finish, but there will most certainly be a winner and a loser. This will likely result in a loss, no matter how hard you try.
We have to have the ability to look within ourselves, and find a way to honestly communicate within our relationships. And on the other side of this, we also need to be willing to readjust our expectations. We all come from different upbringings and have encountered a wide range of life shaping experiences. Those experiences mold us and define our values; sometimes, without us even knowing it. There are times that these experiences can actually stunt our ability to respond well in certain areas or situations. Some people may find that their capability to respond to what seems to be standard is simply not there. Yes, there are times that people may be able to rise to the occasion, but in the event they are not, we have no option but to readjust.
“If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
It is unfair to push our expectations on to someone, when they just weren’t ever meant to climb a tree. They were meant to swim in the ocean; beautiful and free. When we allow our expectations be communicated clearly AND in the same breath take someone’s capability into mind as well, then and only then can we have a healthier relationship with them. We find disappointment less, and our relationships take a new form because we’re simply being honest. Honest about ourselves, about the other person, and about the type of relationship that we can have together. When we choose to stop placing expectations on one another that are unrealistic or simply set them up for failure, we can find a new level of connection, love, and acceptance.