In my work as a Relationship Architect, I hear so many questions come up – and some more than others. One of the most common questions I get from couples in short-term and long-term partnerships is around relationship expectations.
What do you expect of me? What do you need me to do? What should I do?
Check out this video for a discussion.
And while this can be a really reasonable question to ask – one might even say it’s smart – it can also be one of the dumbest questions.
First, let’s focus on what makes questions around relationship expectations smart. One of the biggest things that gets in the way of healthy relationships is communication problems, particularly when issues don’t get shared.
Often, couples don’t share how they expect their partner to talk to them, listen to them and treat them. We need to listen and share these types of relationship expectations upfront.
Even after 37 years of marriage, I have to consciously communicate with my wife and make sure we both know what we expect of one another.
If you haven’t communicated what you expect, it can lead to frustration and disappointment with your partner. Disappointment almost always leads to resentment, because expectations have been failed.
In the early stages of a relationship, when you have dated long enough that you think and feel that you want to create a relationship, it’s a good idea to:
Share your expectations.
Get feedback from your partner. Ask “How are you feeling about what I’m expecting?”
Now, I’m referring to reasonable expectations. A good example is having kids. Do you expect to be the breadwinner, or to approach parenting 50/50 with your partner?
The dumb part of the question about relationship expectations comes when it relates too much to your ego, or there’s a sense of entitlement attached. “You better take care of me” or “I expect you to keep your anger to yourself if you’re upset” are good examples.
I find that a lot of people today tend to treat a relationship or marriage like a Walmart. In addition to competitive pricing, Walmart has virtually everything your household needs.
People expect that their relationship will be the same: a one-stop shop for ALL their needs to be met. No relationship, no matter how solid, can handle the burden of being your go-to for everything you could possibly need.
If you expect that, you’re setting yourself and your partner up for problems that aren’t necessary. So, when you consider what you expect from your partner for a healthy relationship, keep in mind that they’re there to complement you and help you grow – not to be your wall socket of power.
You’re 100% responsible for your experience; your partner is a contributor.