Good Relationships & Expectations

We see this very common scenario in the world around us today… maybe in our own lives too.

It is someone’s wedding day. They look into each other’s eyes and vow to be together “until death do them part.” Standing in front of the marriage celebrant, it is difficult to imagine how the two could ever not feel so in love as they do today. 

Yet 5, 10, 15 years later, they are standing in front of a judge, and this time they are told they are divorced. It is not exactly the fairy tale ending they had anticipated all those years ago. 

This scenario is a reality for over 50% of couples who marry. While the length of the relationship may be different among couples, and there are other reasons for the divorce, the reality is over half of all marriages will end in divorce.

It is a gloomy picture, and perhaps you are feeling depressed, wondering what hope your marriage or relationship has in the face of such statistics. The great thing about statistics is that there are good and bad statistics. Other statistics reveal that if a couple can work through the problems in their relationship, they can potentially bond stronger than ever and have an even better relationship.

Why is all this happening? Ultimately, our perceptions of what makes a good relationship and our expectations of our partner create friction in a marriage.

As we learn to understand why we have these expectations and how to challenge them, we can look at our relationships with new eyes and appreciate them for what they are rather than for what they are not. With this knowledge, all relationships can potentially move forward.

Our ability to relate to each other has evolved over our lifetime. As children, we watch our parents and see how they relate to each other. We learn by observing the culture we grew up in and our life experiences.

We interact with our siblings, and this contributes to our knowledge of how people in close relationships interact with each other. We learn from talking to our friends and often compare and contrast their experiences with our own. As we reflect on what shapes the way we interact with others and why it does this, we find the key to beginning the restoration of a successful relationship.

Here are a couple of practical steps that may help the process. Try to do them together as a couple.

  • Reflect on who you are and what has shaped your thoughts on life and relationships. Take a day or two to really think deeply about this and ask your partner the same questions. Compare their thoughts with yours.
  • Use a journal to write down significant events in your relationship each day and what experiences caused them to occur, and what your expectations were that caused that let down. These events go a long way in reinforcing your relationships. Even as you feel that you are drifting apart, if you just read about these events in your journal, you will reminisce about those happy days you had together, and perhaps you will have a change of heart. You will try to patch up the relationship again. You will want to be together again to relive those happy days, and somewhere deep inside, you will get the confidence that the situation is not as bleak as it appears on the outside.
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