March 2005, Message of the Month
Just the mention of Spring can lead us to visions of what this time of year will bring, more outside activities, the brightness of sunshine and changes in the rhythm of our lives. We can begin to make plans based on our expectations of how things might unfold during this time of year. Most likely, our expectations will be met based on years of experiencing this time of year.
Expectations however, can be tricky when it comes to personal relationships. They can lead into tremendous problems. I find the moment I build up expectations of events, whether in work, my children or my parenting partner, I open myself to disappointment. There is always the chance that these expectations will not be met. This can be especially so when dealing with our partners. We can begin to build up expectations that our partners will somehow be different or more in line with our vision of who we think they “should” be. This is a dangerous place to be because it leads to upset and this certainly affects the relationship and our ability to deal calmly with the people in our lives.
Acknowledging expectations and sharing them with our partners can be a healthy practice for creating teamwork and a calm relationship. This way both partners can discuss how to go forward, knowing that these expectations exist and create a plan for fulfilling them. This is certainly true when dealing with an upcoming event or change in schedule etc.
When we create expectations for our partners to somehow be different in their normal behaviors, we have just set ourselves up for enormous challenges in relating to these people in our lives. My partner and I have a few subjects that remain challenging for us both. We tend to acknowledge it going into the conversation and concentrate on moving forward toward compromise now. But this wasn’t always the case. We have learned by experience and are now choosing differently. We can however, even now, move through certain subjects with difficulty if we are not both ready to be open and work as a team. I find that for myself, I can build expectations of who my partner is and then become upset with him when he is not that person. We often paint a picture of who someone is in our lives and then find the reality does not measure up to our vision. This happens on both sides.
I find that in my present relationship with my partner, that if I can continue to love him for who he is then I can accept him as he is and our relationship continues move forward in dealing together to take care of our children. When I step into that place of superimposing expectations for who he is, then I am the one creating the problem regardless of how my partner is choosing to behave. This needs to be balanced with the fact that our lives are in constant change and motion which can lead to changes in the needs of our children or how we take care of them together. When these changes need to be addressed, it is best to have a conversation (when possible) about how to best handle the change for the good of the kids. When asked as a team member or invited to help in solving a problem, our partners are more likely to participate in a helpful manner.
If we eliminate the creation of expectations with regard to our partners we can more fully accept who they are in our lives. They are there to teach us about ourselves and they do this well. If we have the ability to look within us as to what buttons they are pushing or our own struggles in dealing with them, we will learn a tremendous amount about ourselves. This information is invaluable for moving forward in our own lives. Thank you partner for sharing life with you. (of course, this can be done silently!)
Be present for the gifts that your partner gives you because this is where all your abilities to make changes rest. You are in power to create what you want in your life. You learn best about yourself by how you relate to others around you.