(This is part 2 of a series on the dangers of expectations in our lives. You can view part 1 here.)
The way expectations can be even worse on a relationship is the way that they greatly limit the giving of free gifts. It is virtually impossible for someone to “meet an expectation” and give something freely at the same time.
As I mentioned before, if my wife expects me to brush her hair three time a week (she doesn’t, by the way, my wife is exceptionally good at avoiding living by expectations – better at it than I am for sure)…. But if she did, then how could I give it to her as a gift?
Maybe you have experienced this in another common way… imagine again, please…
That your employer decides one year to offer a Christmas bonus… you are excited at their generosity, maybe you even write them a thank
Year two you hope for it, but don’t make plans based on it…
maybe you anticipate it, but it isn’t yet an expectation. If it doesn’t happen, you are just disappointed, and that is ok. Bummer, didn’t get the
bonus this year.
Christmas three, you tell your kids you are going to get them something special because you are taking into your accounting the bonus. Apparently you now expect it. You likely (unless you are just very well trained) don’t send a card anymore… and if it doesn’t come, you are likely to feel dissatisfied and a little frustrated.)
After the fourth year, if you aren’t careful, the bonus can evolved from a gift through an expectation into something even more lethal to a relationship that seeks intimacy and grace: entitlement.
I believe that any sense of entitlement is strongly linked to immaturity. Life and experience, or better, wisdom…
Should teach us the lack of place of entitlement. We are entitled, truly, to nothing.
If you do allow yourself to reach that depth, then if the bonus is taken from you, you will be angry.
You will free betrayed and even feel justified.
Bad enough when this is linked to a Christmas bonus. Now consider the sense of wages and death when talking about something more intimate… anything that is meant, at the fundamental level, to be a gift.
What if I expect my wife to engage with me sexually when I come home from a trip away? See how the expectation (especially if it is an entitlement) comes in competition with hope, desire, appreciation, even anticipation?
What could communicate all kinds of things instead just communicates “I am willing to adapt to your expectations.”
Does it indicate that she loves me?
Maybe, or it might just mean she is trying to avoid the negative emotions I might have if she fails to meet my expectations.
Wages & Death.
Do I know my wife’s favorites, or tell her how beautiful she is just in an effort to avoid the anger she might express if I fail to tell her what she expects… or what she feels entitled for me to say?
What is life without hope, desire, appreciation, and anticipation?
Ask a Pharisee. I think they knew.
Look at your life… what are your expectations? Is that really what they need to be – or could they be hopes or desires? Could they
just be something to celebrations? If they can, let me strongly encourage you to do so.
Make sure if there is going to be an expectation, make sure it really needs to be one.
Otherwise, I think a life as shed of expectations has a better chance of being a life of joy, grace, and hope.
Full and Free.
And I believe in the power of freedom.
You’re not alone and we would love to join you as you take steps toward a stronger, healthier future.
I believe we all need a safe place to explore the issues that may be preventing us from experiencing a full and satisfying life. My greatest reward as a therapist is helping my clients examine ways to make the changes in their lives that will allow them to look forward to the future with hope. I am a bilingual (Spanish-English) LPC.
Our team will reach out to you soon!