Are you wondering how to stop unmet expectations from ruining your relationship? Do you find yourself constantly disappointed with your partner and thinking about ending it?
Did you know that it’s only since the Victorian era that relationships were meant to be what they are today – a partnership based on love, fidelity, friendship and laughter?
Before the Victorian era, relationships were business based, often set up by parents in the attempt to form allegiances farms or countries. There was no pressure to love forever or be your partner’s best friend. And fidelity was rarely even discussed.
Today, the idea of a relationship has evolved, in most part due to movies and reality TV, into something that is supposed to define us and be the focal point of our lives.
And, often times, as seen by the high divorce rate and the transitory nature of relationships outside of marriage, this ideal of a relationship is not sustainable. Our expectations of our marriage are such that, if they are not met, the relationship will be damaged, perhaps irreversibly.
There are ways to stop unmet expectations from ruining your relationship. Here are a few.
#1 – Identify your own.
One way to stop unmet expectations from ruining your relationship is questioning your own.
What do you think you need from your partner? Do you need him to give up his friends and hobbies for you? Do you expect to have sex every night? Do you want her to keep the house spotlessly clean, like your mother did? Do you expect him to anticipate your every need?
Expectations like these are exactly the things that can kill a relationship. I would encourage you to think about what you want from your partner so that it’s clear in your mind. I also want you to consider if your expectations are reasonable.
If your expectations aren’t reasonable your relationship might be dead upon arrival. If you don’t know what your expectations are, your partner will have a hard time reaching them because you might always be moving the goal post.
So, before unmet expectations destroy your relationship, make sure you know what yours are.
#2 – Set boundaries.
I always encourage new couples to set boundaries in their relationships as soon as possible
To understand healthy relationship boundaries look at the four walls of your house. Those walls are the structure that holds your life together. They hold your food and your bed and your possessions and it’s where you live your life.
Healthy boundaries are the same as those four walls of your house. They are the things that support your relationship as it matures. To have a healthy relationship, one that can grow and be fruitful, it is important that it has structures, boundaries, that support it.
Healthy boundaries come in many shapes, sizes and colors.
A few examples:
*Make sure you stay yourself
*Allow yourselves time apart
*Communication is important
*Mutual respect at all times
*Keep the power dynamic equal
*Making time for both sides of the family
*Respecting others friends and hobbies
Of course, it’s important for each couple to decide what works for them but it is important that every couple establish some boundaries early and stick to them. For the sake of their relationship.
#3 – Be truthful.
It is essential that, if your expectations aren’t being met, you discuss this with your partner.
One of the most common complaints that I hear from women is ‘he should know what I need. I shouldn’t have to tell him.’ And this, I am afraid, is mostly impossible.
Men would love to be able to anticipate and meet our needs but many of them just don’t always have it in them. This is not some deficiency of character but based on the fact that men have no idea how women think and why. It’s a mystery to them so expecting them to be able to do so will set you up for disaster.
If your person isn’t meeting your expectations, tell them. Not in the heat of the moment when you are angry and yelling but at an opportune time when you can discuss it calmly.
Discussing your expectations will allow the two of you to figure out if the expectations are reasonable and, if not, how you can compromise around something that would work for both of you.
If you don’t, if you sit and simmer about your needs not being met, your relationship will not stay healthy.
#4 – Don’t let others influence you.
How many times has your friend said ‘If he loved you, he would do this things’. How many times has your mother said ‘She really should keep the keep the kitchen cleaner.’ How many times have you gotten resentful that your partner isn’t reaching some expectation set by someone outside of the relationship?
It is important that you recognize that your relationship is just that, your relationship.
My mother in law used to remind me that my ex was really good at cleaning the house when he was a teenager. I appreciated that but, in our marriage, him helping with the house cleaning wasn’t something that we had agreed on. It was important that I remembered that when discussing house cleaning with her.
So, make sure that your expectations are based on what you and you partner want, not what others want.
#5 – Remember that no relationship is perfect.
Last night I was watching The Bachelor (yes, I have watched every episode of the bachelor since 2002) and I listened to him talk about the perfect relationship that he wanted to come from his journey. The bachelorettes sang the same tune – they were there to find their best friend, someone who would always be there in their time of need.
While those sentiments are wonderful, they just are unrealistic. No one can be all things to one person all of the time.
When we enter into relationships expecting perfection, we will only be disappointed. Knowing that your relationship will not be the be all and end all, that you will need to find some things outside the relationship and that you won’t blend into one person, will help set you up to not be disappointed and keep your relationship on a forward track to happiness.
Learning how to stop unmet expectations from ruining your relationship is not difficult to do.
If you are feeling dissatisfied in your relationship take a good hard look at your expectations. Do you have expectations that aren’t being met and is that is why you are losing that loving feeling?
If yes, take a good hard look at your expectations and define if they are reasonable. Have your partner do the same. Afterwards, discuss them with your partner so that you guys can agree on what you both want and need. Don’t listen to others and know that every relationship isn’t what you read about in fairy tales.
If you can do these things, your chances of living happily ever after will be greatly improved.
You can do it! Start now…
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I am a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. My writing has been published on The Huffington Post, Prevention, Psych Central, Pop Sugar, MSN and The Good Man Project, among others. I work with all kinds of people to help them go from depressed and overwhelmed to confident and happy in their relationships and in their world.