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Expectations – the Power to Build or Destroy a Relationship

wants, desiresNobody does anything in this life without starting with expectations about how it should work. From the moment that we get up in the morning until we go to bed, we are constantly having expectations about our day.

We expect that we can get to work without having an accident, we have expectations about traffic conditions, expectations about how much work we can get done in the day and so on. Despite having expectations, most of the time we don’t consciously think about them. Even if we do consciously think about our expectations, they are usually not well defined.

Many people have expectations along the lines of I expect to have more money. Unfortunately, without clearly defining what that looks like, it is more like a wish than an expectation and represents the tip of the expectation iceberg with the bulk of it undefined.

When our expectations are not met, even if they are not well defined, we quickly lose our happiness and look for someone to blame. To look at the money example again, even though I do not have a clearly defined idea about what more money means, I get upset because I haven’t got enough money and I can’t afford things. Often we hear the disappointment of broken expectations in the statement “I expected so much more”.

Expectations hold immense power. If we can clearly define them and work towards them, then they have the power to drive us to achieve and create. If they are not clearly defined, then we cannot work towards them, causing great discontent with our situation. This discontent has the potential to drive us to walk away from things and to walk away from people.

Understanding and being clear about your expectations is paramount to success in your relationship.

Most of the time our expectations in relationships are unspoken, or we are not fully clear about what they are. Unmet expectations quickly give rise to feelings of incompatibility in a relationship. For instance, a common expectation in a relationship is “If I need the support of my partner because I’m going through difficult times then I expect that they will listen to me, try to understand and support me”. Many times, however, this doesn’t happen. We try to get support from our partners but they don’t listen, listen and don’t understand and don’t try to understand, or they shut us down. As a result of this unmet expectation, resentment starts to creep into the relationship. Repeat this a few times and add in some other unmet expectations, and quickly the feeling of incompatibility and resentment rises.

On the other hand, if you take the time to examine what your expectations in a relationship, take the time to sit with your partner and share those and gain an understanding of what is important to each of you, then those expectations will help you to strengthen the relationship. Shared expectations allow each partner to be clear on what the other is wanting. When each partner meets the expectations of their partner, it shows commitment, empathy and understanding. These are building blocks in a relationship.

Take the time to work out clearly what your expectations are in your relationship. Try to write down at least five of them. Don’t just stop with generic things like I want to be happy. Take the time to define what makes you happy. Now share these expectations with your partner. What of these expectations are achievable easily and what may require some compromise? Have the discussion.

If you take the time to put an effort into your relationship, then the improvement in the relationship will come back to you as a reward. It’s a boomerang effect.

Defining expectations is a fundamental part of the work that I do in restoring and enhancing relationships. If you want to know how I can help you in your situation, call me on 07 3458 1725.

© Tracey Janke – StartPoint Counselling 2019

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