Expectations are the Downfall of Relationships

Why do couples bicker? Why does it start in the first place? A possible short answer is expectations. Expectations are biased and subjective and can differ from person to person. One partner may expect their spouse to take the garbage out and turn the kettle on for the morning tea. They may even expect that you will have breakfast on the table every morning. The problem with these expectations is that they are subjective and each person has their own personal opinion. Thus, they often don’t match up to the other’s person’s thoughts and opinions. This can create a spiral of negativity.

What is the solution? Instead of focusing on the differences and having expectations, choose to appreciate what the other person does “right”. Conflict is inevitable in any relationship! We are different!  Even though your partner cuts the vegetables in a different way from you, does it make them wrong? Of course not. Each person sees things differently, does things differently and is unique unto themselves. Thus having expectations of how your partner does something will only lead to disappointment and disillusionment. Instead move to appreciation. This will mitigate the nagging, the bickering and mounding resentment.

It is often said; what we are arguing about isn’t what we are arguing about. Let’s have a look underneath the expectations. We may have been conditioned to do something a certain way because that is the way we were taught. If we didn’t follow the rules or expectations of others, we may have been punished, shamed or rejected.  Hence, we may carry this into our adult relationships, and project those same imposed expectations onto our partner. You must do it this way (or something bad will happen) is the subtext. Thus take a pause and consider:  Is the way your partner is folding the towel really worth the disturbance you are experiencing? Probably not. Is something bad going to happen if the towel is not folded in the way you wish? It may be time to let go of expectations past and present? The solution again, is to move beyond this framework of expectations and appreciate the things we like in the other and honour their differences.  Positive thoughts and appreciations spark a release of chemicals like serotonin and endorphins, resulting in a feeling of stability and security. On the contrary, the chemicals of bickering, disappointment and negativity are adrenalin and cortisol and result in a feeling of danger and perceived threat, triggering the flight/fight/freeze system.  Your choice, which would you rather have flowing throughout your body and brain? Here’s how it may look, your partner may not have done the dishes the way you wanted, but at least they tried. You can appreciate their effort. When you train yourself to pay attention what is right and positive, you can ALWAYS find something to appreciate. Turn your expectations into appreciations and your whole relational life will change!  This sentiment can put an end to the bickering in your relationship for good. Enjoy your safe holiday with all that you appreciate.