How Are You Doing with Setting Expectations?

Sometimes things don't happen the way we expected.

I was really angry with my husband.

After a major storm there were sticks and dead hunks of trees to clean up.

I announced I was going outside to start and two hours later I’d only made a dent.  Dripping sweat I went back in to find my husband reading.

I wanted to argue with him but walked away.  The next day while he was at work, I put in another three hours on this chore.   That night we discussed it.

He immediately brought up one of his favorite phrases, setting expectations.  I’ve heard it many times.  I wanted to ask: is this your “get out of jail” card?  We talked.  Talked some more.

The incident is now a metaphor for what NOT to do—on his side and on mine.

I should have made a point of asking him to help me.  

He cannot use such a phrase to excuse himself; he can use it ahead of time to delineate our respective responsibilities, especially when something unexpected, like a storm, occurs. 

Setting expectations is of itself a great idea.  But you must be willing to accept that life changes and curve balls come your way.  Setting expectations might need to be a day-to-day exercise.  And in a crisis an hour-to-hour one.

The ability to accept change is the key to success in marriage and in all relationships.

Quiz yourself: 

  1. In the last five years, which of the following set expectations has not needed any adjustment?
    1. I will save this amount to keep my finances stable
    2. I will exercise and eat well consistently to stay healthy
    3. I will make more time each day for leisure activities
    4. I will stay in touch with the needs of my children (spouse, significant other, aging parents)
  1. In the last ten years, which of the following set expectations has not needed any adjustment?
    1. I will keep a healthy weight of______
    2. I will get a less stressful job
    3. I will move to a less congested part of the country
    4. I will volunteer every week

There are no right answers.

The quiz just shows that very few people could circle a through d for both questions.  LIFE IS CHANGE.

Setting expectations is great, but re-evaluating those expectations is very necessary. 

I love that my husband and I after many years of marriage still have the same political leanings, still believe in saving money, in helping others when we can, in putting family first.  But lots of other things have changed, and that has meant we had to alter our set expectations.  On our wedding day there was that well-known vow promising to love, honor and cherish in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t argue about who’s going to help clean up the yard.

It does mean that when he again uses his “get out of jail” card, I’m going to use mine: communicate!   Tell me what your expectations are and I’ll tell you mine.  Together we can utilize the golden rules of any healthy relationship—setting expectations and then communicating to see if they need to change.

Share your views: What expectations have you set for yourself?  How are you doing?






2 thoughts on “How Are You Doing with Setting Expectations?

  1. Also a Boomer, and addressing my own expectations for everything ….. Enjoyed this post. Life IS change.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Kathy. Sometimes it’s hard to focus on the hour to hour, day to day changes we have to make. I try to rise to the occasion, but sometimes I have to steel myself for the moment. Thanks also for following my blog, Beth

Comments are closed.