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Apr 12

5/3 Unreal Expectations in Relationships need Conflict Solutions

male female questionsWhether we realize it or not, we all have expectations about a great many things – from our everyday life to our future. Nowhere are these expectations more serious and complex than in the relationships, whether in friendships or marriage.

Expectations can be a major source of stress in any relationship. Emotional distress, conflicts, communication breakdowns, misunderstandings, distrust all develop from faulty expectations.

Many times, these expectations can be untrue or even unrealistic.

Other times, expectations can catch us off guard, as we are mostly unaware that they are there – guiding our thinking and what … we expect. We can catch our expectations coming out when we use words like “People should be ….” Or “My marriage should be ….”. However, it’s the fact that these expectations are so ingrained in us that they are most often hidden from our view.

If our expectations of others – or of ourselves – are set too high, then we find disappointment, and failure around us, causing annoyance, frustration and angry when others don’t live up to what we think they ‘should be’.

You can see how this fits into our theme about expectations in marriage.

Unrealistic expectations – such as ‘My friendships will always run smoothly’  or  ‘My marriage will always be happy and nothing can rock our love’ – could lead to distrust and anger. If we have an unrealistic view of our partner’s ‘perfections’ then what a surprise when we wake up to the fact that Prince Charming can fall off his horse.

Part of the goal then must be to become more aware of our unrealistic expectations about marriage. This will give up a much higher guarantee of success. Once we see the underlying views, we can gain more control and make better choices.

Finding your unrealistic thinking can change your relationship and your marriage.

However, it’s not such an easy job to do. It’s catching your unconscious views and doing a reality check that can be very challenging and sometimes confronting. It can take some time and determination to examine what you believe is truth.

A very common example of this is our moods and emotions. If you think bad things will happen over money conflictsand over again, you will probably be on the lookout for ‘bad things’. If you believe that life is a mixture and that you can make your way through these ‘bad things’, or have faith that God will bring good out of ‘bad things’, your mental health will be more stable.

In forming a relationship with another person, we usually have some expectations about how we think that person feels, thinks or behaves. When these expectations are proved false, there is bound to be some stress and uncertainty.

When people enter into marriage, they may have a ‘happily ever after’ expectations that we see in movies or books. ‘Falling in love’ brings its own euphoria and enthusiasm, often maintained by very unreal expectations. Some people expect this deep emotion to overcome all other emotions and as a result, when the reality of life begins to sink in, they might feel lost and a failure. When a husband forgets the first month’s anniversary or doesn’t keep his work about not yelling at your dog, then problems can multiply.

When your room mate forgets to pick up your Thursday’s paper or cries over yesterday’s mistakes, you might wonder where the stable friend is that you enjoyed. As the realities of love and living life together come to the surface, couples can be caught off guard. It’s made worse if they have unreal expectations: ‘this argument should never happen to us!’ If, right from the start, people realize that conflicts are inevitable, they you can more easily flow through the rough spot.

Every couple enters marriage with unconscious ideas about how their partner should behave in what will be their picture perfect’ relationship. Most of these views can’t be fully explained as they are based on our parent’s marriage, other people marriages, the mass media, the moves we see, books we read and so on. When your spouse begins to behave in a different way that they ‘should’, an all too familiar pattern of negative reactions begin to emerge – disapproval, disappointment, retaliation, resentment and rejection can result unless the couple is wise enough to catch the cycle and talk things through.

So what is the answer for couples?

Learning not to judge each other and allow your partner to make mistakes certainly helps with unrealistic expectations. People often do things for reasons we may not understand.

Having realistic expectationsthat married people have conflict that can be resolved, that people make mistakes, they seen thing differently that their partner – all can be resolved and talked through. Keeping the ‘good will’ between the partners will keep the positive growth in the marriage. Sometimes this requires help outside you. Other times it’s knowing when to humble yourself and say ‘I’m sorry’.

Something to think about?

3 girls family conflictsCan you think of 10 expectations you might have had – or still do have about your friendships or marriage that fall into the unrealistic expectations list? Find good relationships and see what kept the friendship.  Honestly, look at the married couples around you that have a great marriage. Ask them – how did that happen? It’s probably because they worked on their relationship with honestly and open communication.

I hope this article has been of help for you. May you begin to catch the unrealistic expectations
long before they cause problems!

Susanne Fengler, Blog Author

www.conflictsolutions.mentorsnotebook.com

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