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April 26, 2022

How to Know if You Have Unrealistic Expectations of Your Husband?

At least a couple of times a week, a client who is feeling some type of angst about a relationship will ask me, am I expecting too much? Am I being realistic?

And I’ve noticed, it’s often the ones that ask that are being completely realistic with their expectations. It’s the ones that don’t ask and are already convinced their unrealistic expectations are completely reasonable that aren’t being realistic.

In general, having expectations for an outcome, an event or a relationship is good. It means that you are forward thinking, you value yourself and you have standards.

The problem is that we are not in a relationship with just ourselves. There is another whose expectations may not match up with yours. That’s where the conflict begins.

So if you’re looking for clarity, these are unrealistic expectations you may be harboring:

1. You’re expecting perfection.

If you tend to set the bar high for yourself, you’re probably doing this for your relationship too. We often see our children, our partner, or our friends as extensions and reflections of ourselves and we may hold them to a higher standard than is fair. Expecting him to be better than all the other humans on the planet and never fail you or mess up is completely unreasonable. He’s human. He makes mistakes and so do you.

Just like you want to be loved, accepted and appreciated for who you are, your partner does too.

How to Know if You Have Unrealistic Expectations of Your Husband?

2. You expect your partner to spend all their free time with you.

Most people know on the surface that this is an unrealistic expectation, but they rationalize their desire to make it sound okay. I often hear, “Well, we don’t have a lot of time, so we should spend the time we do have together, right?” Sure, the answer is right- but not when it’s an absolute and you are punishing your partner for spending time with others or vice versa.

3. You expect your partner to always agree with you.

It’s one thing to always have your back, it’s another thing to always take your side. Always having your back is about supporting you no matter what. Always agreeing with you is too big a burden to put on anyone. No matter how compatible you two maybe, there’s that saying, if you agree on everything, then one of you isn’t needed. It’s important to ask yourself- Am I wanting him to agree with me or do I just want him to hear me out.

This allows you to be honest with yourself about whether your desires are realistic.

And if it’s your partner that tends to want you to always agree with them when things get heated, ask him, do you need to vent or are you looking for me to agree with you? That way, expectations are right there on the table and you’re putting a mirror up to his face about his motivations as well.

4. You expect your partner to always know what you’re thinking.

Especially if you have a history of feeling unheard or devalued in your family of origin, you may have fantasies. Simply said, he can not, he can not, he can not. You must tell him.

5. You expect your partner to fill every void in your life- essentially you want him to be your source of happiness.

Here’s another simple answer to this. He can’t. It’s not fair. Stop expecting this. This expectation is a modern day grenade in relationships. There is no other relationship where we expect someone to walk a life’s journey with us and be everything and anything to us. If you are doing an entire life together, you are each going to grow and change at different rates and in different ways over a lifetime.

You can’t be everything for him on this journey and neither can he be to you. You’ve got to allow your roles to grow and change to get through the long haul. The healthiest couples also have deep connections and external healthy relationships as well.

How to Know if You Have Unrealistic Expectations of Your Husband?

The above are types of unrealistic expectations. But let me tell you what is realistic.

1. You should expect your partner to spend time with you.

How much is negotiable, but you can’t have a relationship without some focused time spent together

2. You should expect your partner to give you affection.

You need it, he needs it. It creates a unique bond in the relationship that you don’t get from others. Notice I said affection, not sex. Sex is important and a whole different topic for a different day. I’m talking about physical touch and affection. Human touch is medicine. I had a client who was struggling with being physical with her husband. They had a sexless marriage, but I asked her, Can you guys lay on opposite ends of the couch, when you watch tv and just tough feet. That she could do and that is a great first step.

3. You should expect your partner to treat you with respect.

He won’t be perfect, but respecting you means he will strive to be a man of his word, that he will strive to listen to your needs and attempt to meet them and that he will not cause you intentional pain. Intentional is the go-to word.

4. You should expect fidelity.

I think that goes without saying, but I notice that when people begin to doubt themselves and whether their expectations are too high, they begin to doubt everything and can lose the grasp on what would be undeniable truths to them at any other time. Expecting your partner to be faithful is not an unrealistic expectation.

You may have what you feel to be realistic expectations, like the ones I just mentioned above, but your partner is not fulfilling them. You may be feeling confused about what to do. Do you lower your expectations, walk away? Stew in resentment?

This is when it gets a little complicated. Continuing to expect something from someone who has historically proven he won’t give it to you is making you a glutton for punishment. You should stop expecting HIM to meet your expectations- but wait! I just said your expectations were realistic. They are. Hold on to your knowledge that your expectations are not too high. This is the minimum of what you deserve in a relationship. But he has proven that you can’t expect that from him.

Why am I asking you to release your expectation when they are realistic and valid? Because the non- clinical definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. This is not the true definition of insanity- but you get my point.

So, if you have a partner who is continuing to not meet your basic expectations, then you need to stop expecting them to do that- not release the expectation globally but release it from them. Instead, expect them to show up as they have been showing up.

But you also need to:

Decide if you need to leave the relationship or get your needs met elsewhere in the healthiest of ways.

You do this by first getting crystal clear about what your expectations are:

Your homework is to write down all of the things you expect from your spouse. Don’t judge them, just write them down.

Next, ask yourself if this is a definite expectation or if you can see some gray areas here. If you can see some gray areas, work on not judging your partner and accepting them for how they show up.

Make sure you have the expectation conversation. Your partner should be super clear about what your expectations are. I have many clients who have been married for eons and are disappointed that their expectations aren’t being met.

In the course of working with them, I figure out that they’ve never actually explicitly laid their expectations out for their partners. You must do that. Clearly. with behavioral terms. This means you don’t say, I need to be loved. You say, I need you to ask me about my day when I get home because that makes me feel loved. Now you’re getting clear.

Next, ask yourself, if he is not meeting my needs, can I get them met outside of the relationships and how- in the healthiest way?

Don’t judge your answer, just be honest with yourself. Sometimes, we are scared to answer our own questions honestly because we are driven to action as a result. Pause for a second. Start with answering honestly and the next steps will take care of themselves. there is no foregone conclusion that because your husband isn’t meeting your needs and because you don’t feel they can be met elsewhere that you have to end the relationship. Don’t jump there yet. You will be surprised what happens when you first get honest and sit with it for a while.

Expectations are part of relationships. We all have them- let’s just make sure they are lining up with who the person you’re in a relationship with actually is.

You’ve got this!

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