Want true love? Lower your expectations

Dear E & V,

One of the interesting parts about marriage is that the longer you live with someone and intertwine your life with theirs, the more you expect them to be psychic to your needs.

I expect your mother to know that I will still need help changing your poopy diapers because I’m incapable of holding you still without smearing fecal matter all over myself. I expect her to know that I was just out in the living room and don’t want to have to go back in to get her water. I expect her to read my mind and my feelings and know what I’m thinking so I don’t have to repeat them with words.

That’s the thing about expectations though. Most of the time you’re the only one aware of them.

So I can’t get mad (or even annoyed) when your mom politely asks me to get her book from the other room. Or when she asks me to change V’s diaper when I’m on the computer. Because then I’m just a grumpy, selfish, and inconsiderate asshole.

But lets consider moments where having high expectations might be justified…

When I spend $1000 on a new iPhone X, I expect it to be the best damn phone in the world.

When I stay at the Ritz Carlton, I expect to be treated like royalty.

When I drop $700 on Celine Dion tickets, I expect her voice to melt me into a puddle of joy.

These businesses know their existence depend on meeting your expectations. They spend lots of time and cash trying to meet them. Some companies don’t have the resources for that and simply base their service on a customer segment they know well from past experience — which means their services will meet expectations for some and disappoint others (ex: the small organic soup restaurant will please vegans and health food nuts but not the Campbell’s soup junky).

But whether the business does or does not cater to your expectations does not change the fact that YOU are the one that controls your expectations.

So what happens when an experience fails to live up to your expectations? Do you let them color your entire experience of that situation, or do you give it a second chance?

I’ve never understood the people who have such a need for control that they lose their minds when their experience doesn’t fulfill their expectations. You’ve surely seen them in public — they’re the customers who don’t leave tips because the waiter was a little slow with the drinks, or the customer yelling at the cashier in the gas station because they’re out of his favorite cigarettes.

Their cringe-worthy actions remind you of a child throwing a temper tantrum. It’s one thing to get (unjustifiably) annoyed with a loved one because she doesn’t know that you don’t want to change the baby’s diaper. It’s a completely different thing to have the same psychic expectations of a complete stranger who you’ve had minimal interactions with.

So you can go into a gas station and expect that they will have the cigarettes you want at the price you want without having to wait 5 minutes in line. And maybe that will happen most of the time.

But the time will eventually come where your expectations will be let down. So how do you respond? Do you go apeshit on the customer service rep? Do you chalk it up as a one-time fluke and let it go? But what if it happens more than once? Do you still give them a third, fourth, fifth, nth chance? Do you just say “Well, I’ll never use their services again, they’re not for me” and move along?

I’m not going to tell you how to react, because only you know your own emotions and ability (or inability) to fight, forgive, or forget. You’re the only one who can control your expectations and your reactions — and when it comes to your experiences, those are really they only things you can control.

So I’m going to end this post with two points:

  1. When it comes to expectations with loved ones, a little bit of empathy goes a long ways.

    2. “When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: The people I deal with today will be       meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous, and surly. They are like this because they can’t tell good from evil. But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own—not of the same blood or birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine. And so none of them can hurt me. No one can implicate me with ugliness. Nor can I feel angry at my relative, or hate him. We were born to work together like feet, hands, and eyes, like the two rows of teeth, upper and lower. To obstruct each other is unnatural. To feel anger at someone, to turn your back on him: these are obstructions.” — Marcus Aurelius 




Ken View All →

I am a Father, Husband, Cowboy Philosopher, Volunteer Firefighter, and Professional Dilettante. I am nothing and I am everything. But when it comes to our relationship: I only wish you wonder and happiness.

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