Expectations. One of the expectations that we, as wives, need to deal with continually are the expectations we have on our husbands. In looking at a Thesaurus I came up with these synonyms for Expectation I list them here to help you see the breadth of the concept of expectations We may not see us having any expectations on our husbands but we may see something of these words in our relationship with him.
I have been reminded lately of the one and only piece of advice our minister gave us as pre-marriage counselling. (He acknowledged that our parents really fulfilled the role of preparing us for marriage etc). Anyways, his one piece of advice was around the word Expectations. He cautioned us that we would both have expectations but encouraged us not to live out our relationship based on those expectations. As Peter and I have looked back over our 15 years of marriage we have seen that yes, we have had expectations on each other over certain issues, but we have learnt to deal with them as such and come together to discuss an issue without these preconceived ideas.
In order to have such a communication with each other it has helped to both know myself and know my husband. For us we have opposing needs when it comes to communicating I need to be in on every thought and my thought process comes quickly, he needs space to think of every thought and possibility before he opens his mouth. Mmmm. I cant change him and he cant change me! But we have been able to work within these seemingly opposing needs. If I have a major concern that I want him to think about we have worked out that a letter to him is a great form of communication. It helps me get all my spontaneous, instant reactions to unemotional, well thought out words. It gives him time to read and process without me hanging around waiting for his every thought and I can do this because somehow a letter gives me the sense that he is dealing with it and that is what I really need to know. He can then get back to me when he is ready.
There is an underlining issue of trust here. I trust him that he really wants us to work together. He has to have the same trust in me. No doubt, sometimes these trust bands are broken or at the very least, stretched, and they have to be built up again. But this is something for us to aim at: Trust and open communication, knowing that we both want our relationship and all that that entails to be successful.
Another concept that works is to have communication in times of non-conflict. If you know yourself well, and you know there are areas in your life that arent what you want them to be, then you can think it through, know what you want, and why, and take it to your husband without there being an actual issue.
I used to really struggle with Pete taking a day of rest on Sunday. I, being a mum of two little children, of course didnt have a day of rest Sunday was actually hard work. There were still the nappies, bottles, and food for others to prepare. We went out as a family, to Church . Hard work!! This meant that the babys routine was altered, both proactively and reactively, it meant keeping on top of the toddler as he was in training for sitting, being still etc. Hard Work!! And then hubby takes a day off!!! I had several expectations here and the main one was that we would have a day of rest together. My heart was challenged that I have, as a stay at home mum, complete control of my time (within the bounds of course of training children!!) There was no reason why I couldnt have my times of rest either on Sunday, or at other times. I soon realised that I had other opportunities throughout the week to take time out, to rest my body, soul and spirit. Peter was not responsible (yet another expectation) to give me rest. He took rest when he needed it (that is, Sunday) I needed to take rest when I needed it (or to be realistic when I could) it was my responsibility.
In working out this conflict (because trust me, I wasnt a calm happy wife when I saw him relaxing on Sunday) I had to know myself, know what I was expecting our life to look like, know my husband and how he wanted to handle discussing such things, but more importantly I didnt discuss it on Sunday. Sunday would have been a time of conflict for this discussion; much better to make it Wednesday.
When we come to discuss expectations on each other (remember he has expectations on you too which you may or may not fulfil) we need to work out wether the expectation is valid or not. What makes a valid expectation? If you have previously discussed the issue and come to a mutually agreeable conclusion that conclusion can become a valid expectation. Eg. If we have discussed that Pete will cook breakfast on Sundays, on the BBQ, that then becomes a valid expectation of mine. Therefore when he starts getting me to cook or prepare food I can ark up at this because my expectation is that he will be doing it. Communication is required. Just because it has been an agreed upon decision doesnt mean you can demand that. Demanding that people live to your expectations (valid expectations or not) will just create law in your relationships. We dont want that. We want joy, peace, and heart in all our relationships. If I can see what I thought was agreed upon to be disappearing on me, I have a choice – – Let it go (and boil on the inside as it keeps repeating) or Talk about it (ie, before it keeps repeating.) We need to be proactive in our relationships with our husband. Dont let things go to where there is conflict in your heart it will spill out into your relationship.
If the expectation is not valid that is, you have no basis for expecting this of him except for your dreams, hopes and preconceived ideas then let it go! Or at least talk to him that these are some thoughts that you have held dear. You need to let him know that you are prepared to let them go but you may be surprised that he may jump on board with you. He may of course share his expectations and in working through these you may both find your family taking a completely different direction and one for the better!
The principle of context helps us deal with many expectations. We will find that as we start to evaluate our expectations that a lot of our preconceived ideas have come from observing others observing our parents, friends, or even in reading a book, doing a course etc. Whenever someone shares with another the things that have worked for them there is a danger that the hearer takes this on board as a principle. We must discern between principle and tool. A principle is a standard, a rule that never changes. A tool will uphold the principle. A tool has context. The tool is not the principle.
Lets take Date nights. Is that a principle or a tool? I believe it is a tool though many take it as a principle. The principle is that we as a married couple need to spend time together outside of our role as parents, outside of our role as business partners, outside of our role as homechoolers. We need to be Peter and Belinda two people who love each other. Now the tool of Date nights is a great tool where we, as a couple who love each other, go out for the night without the household distractions. Great! But this is not a principle. I believe that a principle is do-able for all walks of life. What if you cant afford to go out for dinner? What if you cant get a babysitter? What if you are in the middle of the outback and there is nowhere to go out? What if .? If Date Night were a principle then everyone with these issues would fail in living their life by that principle. But as a tool it has context . A date night can be out of the home, it can be in the home, it can cost money, it can be free, it can be anything that helps two people who love each spend some time together.
I have mentioned context in relation to Expectations because sometimes our expectations are out of whack they are based on tools, which we have made into principles. This is highly unfair not only on ourselves, but also on our husband and our marriage relationship. Think through your expectations . Think carefully, is it a principle or is it a tool. Is there context, is there flexibility, is there creativity in the way that you, as a couple, can meet on these issues.
There is so much involved in communicating between husband and wife, and this hasnt meant to cover even a portion. But my hope is that after this discussion on expectations we will all be a little more aware of the subtleties and the pressures that expectations, preconceived ideas, hopes and dreams can have on our relationship.