You have the right to expect certain things from a long-term relationship. Your partner should want to spend time with you, for instance. There should be interest in at least some of your thoughts and opinions. They should also be able to show you affection and compassion. Most importantly, everyone has the right to feel loved and respected.
But is there a point when you’re expecting too much?
Yes, actually. There is.
Over time, some of us wind up putting far more responsibility for our personal happiness on our partners’ shoulders than we ever mean to or should, and that can harm both of you.
For a better relationship, give yourself a gut-check against these few (unrealistic) expectations that commonly surface in long-term commitments. Once you recognize them, it will be easier to let them go.
A Marriage Is When “Two Become One”
Wedding ceremonies, binding traditions, lighting a candle together, and other symbols of unity are all lovely gestures of commitment. And there is certainly an innumerable list of things shared when you marry. But in case you don’t realize it – you and your partner did not actually become one.
It may seem silly to include this point, but believe it or not, it’s one too easily forgotten. Forgetting your partner’s autonomy is dangerous ground for all sorts of reasons. In fact, we believe it may be the root of all excessive expectations.
Partnership Means Compromise
Part of a long-term commitment is getting to know someone, and deciding what you will (and won’t) compromise. When we find we have enough things in common early on, it’s easy to let parts of ourselves go in order to make our partner happy.
The thing is, you likely fell in love with the freest version of your partner – on their own, no one to answer to.
Although your partner is bound to change as your relationship grows and compromises take shape over time, remember, the more changes you ask of your partner, the farther they will stray from the version of themselves you fell for.
If You Don’t Know Me By Now…
One of the worst things you can do is expect your partner to simply “read” you. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been together, or how many times you think you’ve been down the same road. Just as there’s no way for you to ever really know what’s going on inside your partner’s head, they couldn’t possibly know what’s going on in yours.
On the random occasion your partner hits the nail on the head, seize the moment for everything it is — random and wonderful. Otherwise, verbalize.
This can actually be quite difficult because it puts you in a vulnerable position, but no one is a mind reader. You must ask for (or show your partner) exactly what you want in order to have a fair expectation of actually getting it.
Moving past these few things can wildly improve your connection, and leave room for new discoveries about each other and yourselves – and what’s more exciting than that?
If you have specific expectations and aren’t sure whether you’re being excessive or simply need relationship advice on how to let go of them, our relationship experts Norene Gonsiewski and Tim Higdon can help.