Expectations That Destroy Your Future With Your Partner
LET me play a scenario that is pretty common. You are in love, you found “The One,” you are talking about a bright, beautiful future together. As far as you can tell, you both want the same things in life.
You both want a really cool home together, great careers, awesome friends, exciting travel, fun experiences, spirituality, good food, financial abundance, may or may not want children (but if you do, they will of course be extremely smart and talented), and the list goes on. You two have lots in common. But if you happen to not agree on a particular issue, no biggie, you are in love, and because you are in love, you will work it out when it comes up.
You do not have to worry about the exact details yet. If you happen upon bigger relationship issues that push major buttons like religion, physical intimacy, or acceptable hours spent on social media each night after a hard days work when you two are supposed to be bonding – you will work those out too. After all, you are in love. And being in love means that everything will work itself out because. You are in love.
The difficult truth is that every couple can be considered at-risk for break-up. From research on what makes for a successful long-term relationship (or marriage), we understand that
*Your break-up can be predicted during the earlier stages of the relationship.
*The Initial happiness in your relationship does not necessarily lead to stability or longevity in your relationship.
*Idealistic, unrealistic expectations at the beginning of your relationship lead to disillusionment once the realities of the relationship become apparent.
*Dysfunctional and harmful expectations and relationship patterns developed at the beginning of your relationship remain very stable throughout your relationship (or engagement and marriage).
*Making the expectations explicit and understanding and attending to these dysfunctional expectations and patterns as soon as possible can successfully stop the damage to the relationship.
As we all know, the experience of being in love is an awesome one. We have all been there before I am sure. Many couples make the decision to embark on a lifetime journey together based on this one ingredient alone. They believe they will be open to working anything out because they are in love.
This set of beliefs that everything will work out because one is in love is the very foundation of “Idealistic Expectations” in a relationship. And idealistic and unrealistic expectations can wreak havoc on any relationship.
The current response to relationship distress is to seek help after problems have developed in the relationship, long after dysfunctional relationship patterns have solidified. And because the current popular trend in relationships places a premium on being “in love,” we are not able to properly support and nurture our long-term relationship, because addressing idealistic expectations is not part of that plan. This is why you must bake a second critical ingredient into your relationship recipe: Realistic expectations.
Realistic expectations involve fully knowing yourself and your relationship values, while at the same time fully understanding and accepting your partner’s values in relationship. Mutual understanding and acceptance are the cornerstones of true emotional intimacy.
Compromising and collaborating on all these finer relationship details before making a long-term commitment can result in many positive benefits, including a higher level of conflict resolution which can help prevent those dysfunctional communication patterns from developing in the first place.
The healthy relationship mindset, then, involves addressing unrealistic expectations and potentially harmful and dysfunctional relationship patterns at the beginning of your relationship, engagement, or marriage, so that relationship distress has no chance to develop. Your path to relationship success is best travelled through identifying the main relationship issues and patterns (all relationships have these) that pose the most difficulty for you and then identifying the proper pathways to realistic relationship expectations. So the formula is as follows: Love + Realistic Expectations = Relationship Success. And as it is said with respect to all skills we are trying to develop. Use it or lose it!
This is your recipe to a wonderful, loving and realistic relationship. To the loving relationship we all deserve. Good luck in love and life. Cheers.