SELF HELP RESOURCE - Relationships / Marriage


"Sharda has been married to Shyam for the last 6 years. They were in a relationship for 3 years before they got married. On the whole, they shared a pretty good relationship, cared and adjusted well to one another. However, Sharda would find herself getting frustrated with Shyam every few months. He had a habit of being involved in his work even when at home, the two of them did not have many friends or socialize regularly and Shyam did not help with taking care of the kids. She kept hoping for some change. When he would not communicate, she could not tell if he was in a bad mood or just being difficult. He would withdraw and remain silent when she wanted to discuss something with him."

Where do expectations Come From?
The instances described above are part of Sharda's expectations of her husband and his behaviour towards her and the household.

Our expectations come from our own experiences in relationships and by observing patterns we see around us. Most expectations are based on basic emotional and physical needs we have as well as hopes for the ideal relationship. This could include the time partners spend, the gifts and gestures given or even the support and communication shared. It could also include parenting and child-raising, dealing with in-laws, doing household tasks, sharing finances and many more.

Sometimes your partner may not understand your personal expectations because of communication difficulties, busy schedules or not knowing if they have the resources.

Food for Thought 

1. Check for emotional support vs emotional demands
Emotional support for each other and telling your partner that you are there for them no matter what can be important. Emotional demands on the other hand, can damage a relationship. Insisting that your partner spend all of his or her time with you, insisting that they give up their friends or that you both spend time with only your friends, making them feel guilty when they spend time with their families and always insisting that your feelings are the most important are demands that have potential to damage the relationship.

2. Are you cohesive with one another?
Do the two of you spend time together? Do you think about one another when making decisions, do you make and discuss plans with your partner?

3. Are you being flexible?
Find out how your partner chooses to show his or her love for you and don't set criterias which mean that your partner must always behave differently or the way you would, before you're satisfied.

4. How are you communicating?
Everyone has a different way of communication and dealing with conflicts. Some prefer, problem solving and talking about all issues or concerns while others prefer avoiding the person and topic of discussion until they feel calmer about it. Still others show passive-aggressive styles of making sarcastic remarks, blaming others or indicating they are grumpy through gestures. Having awareness of one's mode of communicating and conflict resolution is the first step towards action in solving issues with one's partner.

When you select the issue and want to discuss your expectations, here are a few steps you could try.

1. Fix a time and eliminate all distractions
It could be just an hour that you and your partner have scheduled and it might be a good idea that phone calls, T.V and other interruptions do not bother you.

2. Learn to listen
One of the biggest misconceptions is that to be a good communicator, you must be a good talker. More than just hearing what is being said, it is important to process it continuously. An exercise that may help you improve your ability to listen is to allow your partner to speak for five minutes without interruption and then repeat what he or she said. Then, have him or her correct you. Then, you can switch places, so that you take the place of the talker and him or her, the repeater.

3. Consider the other person's feelings
Instead of getting disappointed or angry when your spouse doesn't automatically meet your expectations, try to understand where he or she is coming from.

4. Create a plan for broaching difficult topics
Sometimes you have to talk about difficult subjects, including jealousy, infertility, personal decisions, in-laws, money, and death, just to name a few. Conversations about tough issues with something like the following: "I have something to say. It is scary and could upset us both. I hope you'll understand and communicate with me so we can work through it together."

5. Come to a resolution or compromise that is acceptable to both
Maybe Sharda's husband needs some time to shift gears between work and home and he can take over bed-time duties with the children from her. Perhaps she could also discuss with him, ways to keep his work at home to the minimum and finding a way for him to also relax.

6. Coping with Changing Expectations in the Relationship
Relationships change over time. What you want from a relationship in the dating stages might be quite different from what you want after you have been together a number of years. Changes in other areas of your life, outside your relationship, will have an impact on what you want and need from the relationship. Planning for changes together can lead the relationship into new and exciting places.

Assumptions to Beware of!

1. If my spouse loves me, he/she should know what I want
2. If I criticize my partner for disappointing me, he/she must improve.
3. My partner should understand some expectations I have because it comes as part of the job profile of being a husband or wife.
4. If our expectations do not match or cannot be met, we are not compatible.
5. If you always expect the best for your relationship, everything will work out better

When in need of a reality check with your partner in the future, here are some tips to consider.

• Try not to give yourself away in the relationship.
This means to sacrifice your own personal integrity or principles, just to make your partner happy. The healthier image you have of yourself, the less likely this excessive compromising will occur.

• Give each other an appraisal once in awhile.
Evaluate and praise the good aspects and point out areas for improvement

• You are your own best cure to prevent being disappointed.
Fewer and more realistic expectations are a good idea.

• If your partner, despite discussion and explanation, is disappointing you, it might be a good idea to seek couple's counseling from our counsellors and get an objective outsider to help. Maybe you can be assisted in your negotiation process or find ways to stay strong as a couple.

"Blaming others for the pain we feel each time someone fails to live up to our expectations is no different than burning our tongue on coffee that's too hot to swallow, and then calling your cup an idiot!" Guy Finley

Latest Comments

SammyJain on 05 Jul 2021, 16:38 PM

nice one. easy to understand and effective ways..

MyraC on 02 Jun 2020, 11:42 AM

This article comprehensively covers how couples can moderate and manage their expectations in a relationship. The point comes across in a simple and effective manner. It made me wonder about how expectations can be managed when two partners have different communication and conflict resolution styles.

samgn1234 on 17 Jul 2019, 18:01 PM

Nice article and good information