How to Address Expectations with THE FOUR C’s
When I got married I knew nothing and everything all at the same time. I knew we vowed to love and cherish each other until death do us part. I just knew my marriage would be different from the marriages I seen where people are mad and arguing all the time. I did not EXPECT my marriage to be that way. HA! Who did I think we were? I just knew my groom would never let me down or disappoint me. I’m sure he never thought that his bride would never let him down or disappoint him either. Well it happened!!!
Complacency set in and we both felt were in our comfort zones and didn’t put in the work. This is when EXPECTATIONS meets REALITY. EXPECTATIONS and your EXPERIENCE doesn’t match your IMAGINATION. Your experience could be a movie you watched. A love novel you read. The perfect couple you “think” you know. Everyone begins relationships with expectations and experiences.
What do you expect from your spouse? What specific response are you expecting from your spouse during specific situations?
Remember the traditional marriage vows say for better or worse, to love and to cherish and for richer or poorer. What does for better or worse look like to you? What is your version of richer or poorer? To love and cherish? Yep we took those vows looking and smelling good with EXPECTATIONS! To be honest our vows are subjective and vague. We have our ideas of marriage and relationships in our minds but have you thought to communicate them to your spouse? We assume that our spouses know what we need. During our early years of marriage I needed my husband to help out more around the house and with the kids. We had 3 children under the age of 5. I would just slam the cabinets, mumble things under my breath about him, and get so upset at him. I even tried yelling “WISH I HAD SOME HELP.” He didn’t know what was wrong with me.
Sometimes I would be so mad that even if he offered to help I would say NO because he should already know this. Crazy I know! Don’t judge me! I don’t care go ahead you can. HA! When you need help around the house, do you communicate that? When you are upset, what do need from your spouse? Do you want them to keep talking or give you space? Do you push them away instead when you really want them close to you? What about when you want sex and they don’t? What about when your parenting styles conflict? What do you need from them after a lousy day? If the house is a mess and they have been home all day, what specific things do you want them to do? Have you communicated your desires in these moments?
People change and your expectations may change over time as well. It’s called growth. What you needed and wanted in one point of your relationship may have changed. Communicate that as well. After your expectations aren’t being met you begin to go through the “LET DOWN” phase. Now, here you are thinking what in the world have I gotten myself into. You begin to tell yourself things that may not necessarily be true like the following. He doesn’t care about me. He doesn’t even listen to me when I talk. She doesn’t support my dreams. She doesn’t appreciate me. The truth is that all marriages go through a “LET DOWN” phase. What you must remember during this phase is that you are responsible for your feelings, responses and your actions.
How should YOU address your unmet expectations?
THE FOUR C’s
Communication -Let your spouse know what your expectations are. Communication is a HUGE task in marriage. It is often times miscommunication that causes the biggest problems. When you are feeling that he/she isn’t being sensitive to your needs. Let them know. Put your emotions and pride on the sideline and express what you need from them. Unspoken expectations will destroy your marriage!
Compromise– After the expectation has been communicated there MUST be a compromise. Set aside your own agenda and selfishness to hear your spouse expectations. Be realistic with your compromise. Sometimes compromise means one person or both have to give up something for the greater good of the relationship. That sounds negative or hard but it is NOT. It does take practice though. You will feel like you are losing but you are not. IT IS SIMPLY FOR THE GREATER GOOD OF THE RELATIONSHIP! Philippians 2:3-4 puts it clear, Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. <https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Philippians+2%3A3-4&version=NLT>
Collaborate– Focus on the outcome. Be goal oriented. Choose how you will handle the situation moving forward. Work together to meet the goal. Get a game plan together. For example, if I have had a lousy day at work then you offer to take care of dinner. This way you both win. Dinner is served and you have a happy spouse! Remember you are on the same team. Don’t try to be the shining star but be a part of the WINNING team. Teamwork makes the Dreamwork! Remember HAPPY spouse HAPPY house!
Come Back Together– After some time has passed, let your spouse know how they are doing. Make adjustments if needed. Most importantly compliment or give praise if things are going well. We all like to be praised! Ladies, guys like their ego stroked. Guys, ladies like words of affirmation. Tell him that he is doing a great job and you appreciate him listening. Let her know that she is special to you and she takes great care of the home.
Notice the Four C’s didn’t include Complain. Complaining is not a strategy. By being aware of your partners expectations you can avoid living in the “LET DOWN” phase that marriages go through. Notice I said you go through the “let down” phase. Meaning you don’t stay there you GROW through it. Accept your spouse for who they are. Don’t try to force them into the box of who you want them to be. Following the Four C’s will bring the two of you closer!! Pray for your spouse daily and pray together daily. Keep your expectations at the feet of Jesus not the ear of your spouse. Remember once you stop EXPECTING your partner to be perfect you can love them for who they are!
Bottom Line: You can’t confront what you haven’t communicated!
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