It is great to find someone with the same view on expectations and its effect on relationships. I had to share the Upworthy article because it communicates so well.
One man's take on the silent killer of relationships: unmet expectations.
What's the secret to a winning relationship? This guy thinks he knows.
Derek Harvey -- Upworthy, Nov. 2016
During one of the presenter’s talks, he asked the audience what the biggest cause of divorce was.
Because I had just been through premarital counseling, I pretty much felt like an expert at marriage. I shot my hand up quickly to answer the question and blurted out, “Sex, money, and communication!” Then I looked at my wife next to me and grinned. Too easy.
“Wrong,” the presenter barked back. “Those are symptoms of the real problem.”
Ouch. Not only was I given a sharp lesson in humility, but what followed changed my life. I was about to be told the best piece of marriage advice that this young, prideful, newly married manboy could’ve ever asked for.
“The reason marriages end in divorce is because of one thing," he said, "unmet expectations.”
My newly-married manboy brain couldn’t handle the revelation. I don’t remember much of what was said after that. I was too busy thinking of all the unmet expectations I was experiencing after being married for just a month.
But having unmet expectations isn’t just a marriage problem. It’s a life problem.
Since that seminar six years ago, I have seen the pain and frustration that plays out from having unmet expectations — not just in marriage, but in all relationships. It’s a deadly venom that flows to the heart and wreaks havoc in relationships.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re single, married, working, unemployed, old, young, or [insert demographic here]. Having unmet expectations is lethal to everyone. No one is immune.
So ... what’s the solution?
I’m a math guy. I love equations. I love crunching numbers, and I thoroughly enjoyed algebra and calculus in high school (although I probably couldn’t do a calculus problem to save my life now).
So after lots of searching, I came across an equation for this that helped me understand the whole issue:
EXPECTATION – OBSERVATION = FRUSTRATION
Here’s what that means: Below are two hypothetical versions of one situation played out.
Situation #1: Expectation
When I come home from a long day at work, I EXPECT that my partner will have dinner prepared and ready for us, so we can sit down and eat as a family. She’ll be wearing an apron with no food stains on it (because she’s perfect like that) and her hair will be perfectly done up.
Meanwhile, my 16-month-old daughter will sit in her high chair and eat with utensils ... never missing her mouth, which makes cleanup a breeze. After we all finish eating at exactly the same time, we’ll head out into the Colorado sun and go for a nice family stroll, while the butler (you read that right ... butler) cleans up the kitchen and prepares our home for evening activities.
Situation #2: Reality
Really, I come home from work 30 minutes late, and dinner hasn’t even been thought of ... much less started. Because of this, my toddler is screaming her head off, signing, “More! Please! Eat!”
When I search for my wife, I find her working on a design project, trying to meet a deadline that’s technically already past due. When I ask what’s for dinner, she glares at me the way only an overworked, overtired, work-from-home parent can glare.
After picking up my toddler, I make my way into the kitchen to find an abundance of no groceries. So, being the manly chef that I am, I set my eyes on cheese and bread. “Grilled cheese!” I exclaim. I put my daughter in her high chair as an influx of rage bursts from within her. I quickly grab the applesauce pouch to appease her. It works ... for now. I get to work on my grilled cheese sandwiches. Everyone eats. The kitchen is left a mess. Toys are scattered throughout the living room just waiting to break someone’s ankle. My wife and I collapse on the couch, avoiding eye contact and avoiding volunteering to clean the kitchen. I could keep going but you get the picture.
Frustration is the difference between these two scenarios.
It's quite an elaborate illustration, I know. But I’m trying to paint the picture of what our expectations can be like versus what life is actually like. Antonio Banderas says it best: “Expectation is the mother of all frustration.”
The fact of the matter is this: In life, we often have expectations that go unmet, and we’re often frustrated because of it. But we don’t HAVE to be.
What can you do? Let your observation take precedence over your expectation.
In other words, go with the flow.
Some would say to not have any expectations at all. But I wouldn’t go that far. I think healthy, realistic expectations that are communicated are good to have. They’re something to reach for.
But when you come into a situation and your expectations aren’t met, let your observation take the lead. Discard your expectation in the moment and deal with the reality at hand.
My successes came as I pressed to improve my person and my work. At every success, I looked for things I might improve the next time.
Depression is real. And it is treatable and manageable. At three junctures I started my life over again. When life-as-I-knew-it ended, I started life anew essentially with few resources. Each time, I found a new life filled with purpose and meaning and happiness I never considered available to me.
Yep. My life began to change for the better after I made a change in my priorities in life. I am not "less than" anyone. Wellness became my top priority. And my successes follow every decision I made from the still and silent place inside me.
I wonder about how different our world might be if society adopted many of the principles of Jainism.
Jainism ( or ), traditionally known as Jain dharma, is an ancient Indian religion belonging to the śramaṇatradition. The central tenet is non-violence and love towards all living beings. Parasparopagraho Jivanam ("the function of souls is to help one another") is the motto of Jainism. The three main principles of Jainism are ahimsa (non-violence), anekantavada (non-absolutism), and aparigraha (non-possessiveness). Followers of Jainism take five main vows: ahimsa (non-violence), satya (not lying), asteya (not stealing), brahmacharya(chastity), and aparigraha (non-attachment). Jain monks and nuns observe these vows absolutely whereas householders (śrāvakas) observe them within their practical limitations. Self-discipline and asceticism are thus major focuses of Jainism. Notably, Mahatma Gandhiwas greatly influenced by Jainism and adopted many Jain principles in his life.The word "Jain" derives from the Sanskrit word jina (conqueror). A human being who has conquered all inner passions like attachment, desire, anger, pride, greed, etc. is called Jina. Followers of the path practiced and preached by the jinas are known as Jains.
Jains trace their history through a succession of twenty-four teachers and revivers of the Jain path known as tirthankars. In the current era, this started with Rishabhdev and concluded with Mahavir. Jains believe that Jainism is eternal and while it may be forgotten, it will be revived from time to time.
The majority of Jains reside in India. With 4–6 million followers, Jainism is smaller than many other major world religions. Outside of India, some of the largest Jain communities are found in the United States, Europe, Kenya, and Canada. Contemporary Jainism is divided into two major sects, Digambara and Śvētāmbara.
Namokar Mantra is the basic and most common prayer in Jainism. Major Jain festivals include Paryushana and Daslakshana, Mahavir Jayanti, and Diwali.
S.L. Brannon, B.A., M.Ed., D.Div. You can learn more about me (Steve Brannon) on facebook and linkedin.
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