Thursday, September 9, 2010

Dear Daniel, (advice about expectations)

You don't get to choose your parents. You do, however, get to choose your friends and your lovers, your life-partner or spouse. You can choose not to partner yourself with someone, or you could choose more than one person (and good luck with that!).

There is one great thing about getting to choose who to be in intimate relationships with. You are ultimately in control of the kinds of people you allow in your life—you don't have to take crap from people who should be treating you well. (This even applies to your boss, if you have one, but that's another topic altogether.)

In college, I took a class about marriage. For this class, I had to interview a couple who had been married more than ten years and one who had been married less than five years. I asked lots of questions of these two couples, but one thing has stuck in my mind from the talk with the couple who had been married twenty years. These people are very dear to me, and very wise. I look up to them very much and seeing them together inspires me in my marriage. The bit of advice that they gave me was this: the basis for most arguments and disappointment is unmet or mismanaged expectations. Let your expectations be known, try to meet the other person's expectations as best you can, and things will go well.

This means that if you want a gift for Valentine's Day, tell the other person that you're expecting a gift. Trust me—it doesn't ruin the surprise. What it does do is keep you from being disappointed when your partner can't read your mind. When you don't make your expectations clear, and you end up seriously lacking in the flowers and chocolates department, that can really ruin your day! On the flip side of that, if your partner says to you, "I'm expecting you to take the trash out when it gets full," (provided you feel the division of labor is fair and you both have the same definition for "full") you should probably take out the trash. Things will be better all around.

Along the same lines, if someone you're in relationship with refuses to make his expectations clear, and expects you instead to read his mind or anticipate his needs...well, that's not going to be fun for either of you. You have the power to choose not to be in relationship with people who want to play games with you. You have the power to choose not to be in relationship with people who tell you they're going to do something and then don't follow through.

(I would also suggest that you try to interact with people using direct communication, and request that they also communicate back to you directly, but that is also a topic for another day.)

These are hard lessons to figure out, Little One...I'm still working at them, myself. Good thing you have so much time to learn.

Love,
Momma

1 comment:

  1. Expectation... leads to disappointment

    ReplyDelete

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