Last weekend my husband, Ricky, and I attended a marriage conference. After thirty years, we’re wise enough to know we don’t have all the answers. And we were smart enough to listen when a particular question was asked. Sometimes a little thing houses big results.
Immediately intrigued, we leaned in to hear more.
“That word is expectation.” Keith spread his arms fluidly as he shared a knowing glance with his wife, who stood demurely at his side on the stage. Then he threw another thought-provoking question our way. “Why do you expect your spouse to do certain things?”
Ricky and I exchanged our own insider’s look — and a smile.
Craft continued, “If I expect you to do something, and you do it, I tend to be ungrateful.” He took a step forward, “If you don’t do what I expect, I tend to become frustrated, angry, and disappointed. Ingratitude and disappointment are root issues in many marriages.”
My mind reviewed quick sound-bytes of past arguments. And I had to agree. Most if not all on my end, originated as a result of my own expectations. Expectations by the way, that I hadn’t shared with my husband.
Then I thought over many conflicts I’d had at work, with friends, and with other family members. Sure enough, I could track the majority to my unreasonable expectations.
- I either didn’t show appreciation when someone met my expectations.
- Or I became frustrated when they did not.
So how does this information help me? Knowledge is only as good as the result of its application.
Now that I’ve become aware of my propensity to make unreasonable, unspoken expectations, I need to work on better communication. Clear, concise, honest verbalization of what I want or need.
But I also need to consider why I expect what I expect. How does my personality change the filters through which I see? What does my history do to alter the way I see things today? When do my emotions change what I view? Where do my perceptions get fuzzy? Who triggers unrealistic expectations in my mind?
If all of this sounds exhausting, I can assure you it doesn’t take as much time or energy as it sounds. And the outcome is worth the effort.
Since the conference, Ricky and I have pondered and discussed our expectations. Probably me more than him, but gender differences are a whole other subject. I can tell you this, since the power of expectations has come to my attention, I’ve worked to realign my thinking, and even more importantly, to communicate more clearly. To prevent problems, instead of waiting to put out a communication mis-fire after the fact.
In our marriage, we’ve seen immediate results, and I expect even greater rewards in the future. Of course, as I’m sure you noticed, there I go expecting again.
Can you trace expectations to any conflicts in your past?
Anita Fresh Faith
Anita Agers-Brooks is a Business and Inspirational Coach, Certified Personality Trainer, Productivity Expert, Certified Training Facilitator, Communications Specialist, and national speaker. Anita is also the author of, First Hired, Last Fired — How to Become Irreplaceable in Any Job Market. Now available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books a Million, Lifeway, Christianbook.com, plus many fine stores, Christian and otherwise.
She’s a partner in The Zenith Zone, a business coaching firm. Member of the Christian Writer’s Guild, Toastmasters, and a client of WordServe Literary Group. A graduate of CLASSeminars for Leaders, Speakers, and Authors, a co-founder of The StoryWriting Studio, and speaker on circuit for Stonecroft International Ministries. Anita co-hosts a weekly podcast, Engaging Life and Leadership with Darren Dake, available on iTunes, Stitcher, and other podcast platforms.
Anita is passionate about business with integrity, healthy relationships, and issues of identity. She travels the country teaching others from her personal experiences and research. She believes it’s never too late for a fresh start with fresh faith.
Her favorite past time is lounging by a river or lake in Missouri, laughing with with her husband of thirty years, Ricky.