Managing Expectations

on our hike this past Saturday

on our hike this past Saturday

I remember quite clearly a conversation I had with a friend closing in on four years ago now. I don’t remember exactly what was going on, I know that I was trying to maintain a calm while actually being rather upset. She made a comment to the effect that I was handling whatever blow had fallen that day quite well. And I told her, Life is all about managing expectations. If you can do that, if you can keep your dreams, hopes, and ideals from getting in the way, then you can enjoy life no matter what it throws at you. I’m better at that some days than others, but it’s something I still try.

Now, I’m not saying to not dream. I’m not saying to not hope. I’m saying that you have to be flexible enough in those to allow them to mesh with the reality that is life. If you have a rigid expectation of what something, anything, is supposed to be like, then if when it comes and it doesn’t match up, you will be disappointed. And sometimes that disappointment can cost you the appreciation and joy of the moment that did occur. All because it didn’t happen the way you wanted, dreamed, and hoped.

Take, for example, getting engaged and married. It is the rare girl who doesn’t dream of it. Who doesn’t have an idea of how she’d like to have the question popped, of the type of ring she’d like, and certainly of the big bash that will be her wedding day. I was no different than most girls. I had my hopes and dreams for how it would all happen.

We would be at a sporting event of some kind. Cliche? Most definitely. But fitting to my sports loving? Absolutely. It wouldn’t even have to be on the kiss cam or up on the screen, it could just be a private moment between us, while surrounded by thousands of other sports fans. Ha. He would tell me all about how much he loved me, get down on one knee, hold up the ring and ask me to be his wife. I would say yes, cry tears of joy, and we’d live happily ever after.

Insert the sound of the record screeching to a halt here. I knew this would never happen once I fell in love with B. He told me early on that he knew nothing about jewelry and that I would be responsible for picking out my own ring. That was fine by me. Our actual engagement happened on a Saturday. He’d been at work that day and we were curled up in bed chatting. He mentioned (for the second time that week) how happy he was to have me living with him, how well he felt we were meshing as a no-longer-long-distance couple. And he asked me to marry him. And I said yes. We were beyond thrilled and excited and it was perfect. All because I was able to let that just be our moment. I didn’t try to force it to be something else. I was able to manage my expectations and dreams to allow for the reality of life. As to my proposal story? I wouldn’t have it any other way, it fits us both so well. And we were able to have that entire evening to ourselves as a newly engaged couple, something that wouldn’t have been possible in my dream.

My issue is not in adjusting for the big things. Our wedding was not as I had pictured as a child, but I’m okay with that too. Like I said, the big things don’t seem to give me any pause. For me, it’s managing expectations in little things. Like, B saying he’ll be home at x time and then not showing up or calling me to let me know what’s going on. Especially when it’s a day he’s not even supposed to be working at all and where I have a busy afternoon planned. That derails me more than the big things. Or, another example, the cruise we’re supposed to go on this summer. It took forever (two month) to settle on a cruise and date and now that’s off due to work conflicts on the part of my in-laws. So we have to regather and reattempt to find a month, date, and cruise that will work for all of us.

I’m not sure what to say about these minor issues or why they mess with my calm so much. I know that I need to learn to balance my expectations for these small, little day to day experiences just as I do for the larger, life changing ones. Or maybe, I just need a massage.

Do you find yourself able to go with the flow? Or do you have rigid expectations of how things should be?

~The Countess~

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About texancountess

I find myself in the calming roar of the sea, floating gently on the foam of the breaking waves. Blue. Green. Gray. The colors of the sea mark the boundaries of my soul. The tumbled glass finds its polish under the relentless pounding of the waves upon the shore. Thus am I. Rough transitioning to polish, refinement ever a process, finding my niche in the storms of life.
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9 Responses to Managing Expectations

  1. Army Amy says:

    Do you read A Practical Wedding? It’s a wedding website, but it also talks about marriage and change and it’s really really good. Your post reminds me of some of the things I’ve read there, so I think you’d like it.

    I am trying to be more of a go with the flow person, but I am naturally type-A. It’s hard for me to be spontaneous. I’m finding that it’s easier to be happy if you have low expectations, if you are flexible. The hard part for me is putting it into practice. Being more zen is actually one of my goals this year. I feel like I’m doing good so far, but time will tell!

    Good luck rescheduling your cruise. That stinks that your original plan isn’t going to work.*

    • I haven’t ever read a Practical Wedding. I somewhat avoid wedding websites as they mess with my mojo and my determination to not feel disappointed that I haven’t gotten to have my white wedding/vow renewal ceremony yet.

      I am so Type A. I’m the make plans and stick to them. Which is why little things like my husband telling me he’ll be home at 11 and then not calling until after 1140 to say he’ll be home in five minutes frustrates me. I can’t make lunch to be ready at 11 because I never know when he’ll show up. And I was out of time (this morning) to cook by the time he did get home. So, I feel you on the need to be zen.

      I know the cruise stuff will happen, I just hate the scheduling part.

      • Army Amy says:

        APW might be for you then. They are all about doing what’s best for you, and so much of it is about relationships/re-defining marriage. It’s fab!*

  2. harmony1440 says:

    For me, everything must be researched and planned, but I usually walk into situations with low expectations so that if and when things work out, I can be pleasantly surprised.

    • That also can help. I’ve learned with the vacations that we’ve taken that keeping my expectations low of what our experiences will be helps me to let go and relax. And, this way my expectations are always met and often exceeded, which makes for more relaxed and enjoyable trips.

  3. AMargaretV says:

    This reminds me of the advice that my mom gave me when I got married. She said “there are 3 words that will fix all your problems/fights, and they aren’t ‘I love you’, it’s ‘lower your expectations'”. At first I thought it was really pessimistic and sad, but now I see what she was saying. I appreciate and love my husband so much because I don’t expect him to be anything other than himself. He isn’t going to come home and surprise me with flowers and a romantic getaway…he isn’t that kind of guy. So I don’t expect that from him, and I am never disappointed or get my hope up only to have them dashed.

    • Haha, it sounds like we’re married to men of the same cloth. My husband does not think to buy me flowers or plan surprise getaways. He does, however, bring me coffee when he has a DV meeting at Starbucks and buy me jewelry (now) for no reason whatsoever.

      And you’re right, lowering our expectations is more about accepting the reality of who the other person is. It’s not a bad thing, but rather it’s a saving thing. Because I know I don’t always live up to expectations either.

  4. Kim says:

    This is going to be something I struggle with my entire life. I just don’t see it going away permanently, though I do think I’m better at it than I was ten years ago :) The strange thing is the bizarre expectations that I didn’t even know I had, until something comes up in life that forces me to confront them. Part of my brain is truly ruled by a vile little princess who wants her damn way. NOW.

    • I love you even more for this. It will definitely be a life long struggle for me. I didn’t include my wedding as an example because my expectations for that still make me sad that I didn’t get the day I had dreamed of. And, I think that somewhere deep in all of us is a vile princess who wants her way ASAP. Ladies have just learned how to mostly gag the bitch.

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