Is your relationship going through a rough patch right now? Have you ever thought about defining relationship expectations, to keep it healthy?
As we are all learning, relationships can be sorely tested by the stay at home measures being recommended during this coronavirus pandemic. What I know, however, is that defining relationship expectations NOW can keep relationships healthy and can possibly help mend damaged ones and help move them forward stronger than ever.
In these modern days, establishing expectations at work is something that is done as a matter of course but, unfortunately, establishing relationship expectations is not so common. Why, I don’t know, because not having expectations around anything is a recipe for things to go awry.
So why does defining relationship expectations make such a difference, especially in these scary times?
1. Everyone knows what to expect.
One of the key reasons why defining relationship expectations now are so important is that everyone knows what to expect.
Think about work – when you start a project the first thing that is laid out is the participation expectations of everyone on the team. That way, as the project moves forward, everyone knows what their role is which, in turn, ensures that the project will be a success.
In a relationship, things work the same way. If you both can define what your expectations are then your relationship has a better chance of staying healthy.
In my relationship our expectations are as follows:
*I will decide what we are going to eat and I will cook and he will do the dishes, preferably right after dinner but that is negotiable.
*We will take a walk together every day, no excuses.
*I won’t blurt out horrible things that I read in the news without his permission.
*He gets 2 hours in the garage daily to putter.
*I get a foot rub 4 nights a week.
These are the things that are most important to us and that we both expect from our relationship. Imagine if we didn’t understand each other’s expectations, if he didn’t do the dishes and I just blurted out every horrible news. How quickly would we get upset with each other? How quickly would our nerves begin to fray?
So, take the time and talk to your partner about your expectations, both around the coronavirus and the big picture. It will be worth it, I promise.
Want to know how you can deal with expectations the right way? Read Unmet Expectations: 5 Ways It Is Ruining Your Relationship
2. You can start with honesty.
Every healthy relationship is built on honesty and defining expectations is an important part of being honest.
A client of mine is full of resentment around what her husband does and doesn’t do around the house. The problem is, she has never told him what she wants him to do – she just expects that he will figure it out. As a result, she passive-aggressively nudges him to do what she wants him to do. And it pisses him off that she isn’t direct and that makes it more likely that he won’t get it done.
He tells me that if she were just honest with him about what she wanted to get done, and he was able to be honest with her about what he could do, they would be able to navigate all of this much better and eliminate the underlining tension that always exists in their household.
So, be honest with your partner about what you want so that you can include it in your expectations. Even if your partner isn’t sure he can meet the expectation, you have put it out there honestly so that you can discuss it.
3. You can better manage disagreements.
Let’s say that my boyfriend fails to do the dishes after agreeing that that was my expectation. Now imagine my client’s husband failing to do the dishes because he doesn’t know that he is expected to do them.