>What did you expect?!?!

So you expect your partner to be more….. You fill in the blank- more sensitive? More helpful? More understanding? Why? Just because you want them to be?

People are constantly being disappointed by their partners because they have expectations based on an idea rather than the reality of the other person, and this is where they get into trouble. For example, your partner is late coming home from work again, so you are stuck either twiddling your thumbs, or once again saddled with some combination of bathing, feeding and bedding the children or other animals living in your home. Your partner comes in, exhausted and you are stewing. You expect more from your partner, and to make that point, you unleash your rage/ give them the silent treatment until they realize what they’ve done ‘wrong.’

Questions for you:
1. Are your expectations built on your partner’s past behavior?
(i.e; Do they usually call to let you know they’ll be late? Have they generally followed through when they promise to be on time?)
If not, you’re actually talking about a desire you have for your partner, not an expectation.

2. How clearly have you expressed your desire to your partner?
Even if it’s the most obvious thing in the world to you, and all of your friends you’ve talked with about it, your partner may be clueless about what it is you want. Once you tell them, they are more responsible for what they do with the information.

So first, consider whether your expectations are actually desires – maybe a combination, like ‘you used to bring me flowers, and I wish that you would start doing that again’. Define for yourself what it is, and then ask your partner to have a discussion. Acknowledge that you’ve not discussed it in this way before, (i.e.; clearly? calmly? in English?) but there is something you’d like to go differently in your relationship/life. Share with your partner how their behavior makes you feel.

Then ask them what their thoughts are on the matter; they may get defensive, (i.e. ‘Well, you always nag me…’) so stay calm and gently remind them that you’re trying to make it better, not blame them. Their perspective may give you a new understanding about why things happen the way they do. Then you can develop a solution together – maybe they have to work late, but maybe there’s a way to negotiate that so that it doesn’t make you feel so awful every time it happens!

Give it a try, I’d love to hear what you come up with!


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