I was slamming toys into the toy box that night. That’s how angry I was that I came home to a messy house after a girls night out.
What was the problem? The problem was that I had an expectation that the house would be clean when I came home, but it was not.
Today’s podcast will look at how unmet expectations can kill the intimacy in your marriage and what you can do about it.
In the episode I mentioned another podcast about having difficult conversations. You can find it here.
For more inspiration, join me in my private A Life Designed community on Facebook.
Also, I have created a free Marriage Communication Masterclass for you! This class is for you if you want to stop fighting with your husband and feel like you are on the same team.
Welcome to A Life Designed.
My name is Tina Haisman. I teach busy moms how to get everything done and still have time and energy for themselves. My passion is for helping women create more heart-to-heart connection with their husband and children so they can feel deeply fulfilled in those most important relationships.
The topic of today’s podcast is How Expectations Are Killing the Intimacy in Your Marriage
But before we get started I want to let you know I have created a free video on Communication in Marriage for you. This video is for you if you have ever felt like you can’t get through to your husband. If you feel like your husband never listens to you. If you lose your cool during difficult conversations. If you’re tired of fighting with your husband.
In just 30 minutes, this video will help you lay the foundation for healthy communication in marriage and teach you how to handle difficult conversations so you can feel more connected and like you’re on the same team as your husband. Visit the link in the show notes to access it.
Also I have a FREE private group on Facebook where you can come to get inspiration for your life. It’s called A Life Designed. I hope you’ll join us!
Now let’s Dive IN and talk about how How Expectations are Killing the Intimacy in Your Marriage
I am going to share a story with you and then a teaching. You might not have this exact story in your marriage, but I hope you can relate it to a time in the past when your husband did not meet your expectations.
I remember a time when my children were little. Alyssa was probably one, and Tyler four.
I had just joined a Bunco group in my neighborhood, and I loved it! It was a chance to get out with other moms and relax and talk and have fun! I loved it!
Of course, I always needed my husband to “babysit” on those nights so I could go and relax.
One night I came home, probably somewhere between 11 and midnight. I walked into a mess. All I can remember is that the family room was completely messy with toys everywhere.
The anger I felt was immediate and it was volatile. Paul was nowhere to be seen, but I think he was in his office.
I started picking up the toys and slamming them into the toy box. This was VERY unlike me. But I was so angry.
Paul came out of his office, now angry, too, and said, “What are you doing?” I have no idea what I said exactly, just something about picking up the toys, and I was not nice about it. I think venom must have been spewing out of my eyes.
He said, “You’re going to wake up the kids.”
No words came out of my mouth. Just more slamming of toys into the toy box. I was so mad.
“You get a night out, and this is how you come home and react,” he says.
Woah. That was the WRONG thing to say, Mr!
So, I heatedly replied to him, “It’s not a night out for me if I have to come home and clean up this mess. You should have done it.”
I was so angry, you guys. I can feel that anger in me right now as I tell you this story. I felt so disrespected. I felt unloved. I felt like he didn’t care about me.
And THIS is where the problem came in. Those feelings. I tied emotions to my expectation that my husband would clean up the house before I got home.
I expected that the house would be clean when I came home. And when it was not clean when I came home, I got angry and felt sorry for myself.
What I have learned since that time is that when we tie our emotions to the behavior of another person we are asking for trouble.
Check this out. James 4:1-2, reads, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it.”
Whoa. I wanted a clean house when I came home, but I did not get it.
I thought my expectation was reasonable. I wanted the toys picked up at the end of the night. We normally did that when I was home at night. I expected it would be the same if I was not home.
A cleaned up living room was important to ME. But, it wasn’t important to my husband. He didn’t care about the toys all over the living room. They were not a problem to him.
Where the problem came in is when I tied my emotions to the messy living room. When I got angry and took his lack of cleaning up the toys to mean much more than it did.
It doesn’t mean I can’t feel disappointed. But when we make up stories in our minds that our husbands don’t care about us, we are causing much pain for ourselves.
In a national survey, 45% of divorced respondents said unrealistic expectations contributed to their marriage ending. That’s almost half of all divorcees surveyed.
Yikes, my friends. That makes this a very important topic.
There are two kinds of expectations in marriage – realistic and unrealistic.
Realistic expectations are for kindness and thoughtfulness and partnership and honesty.
Unrealistic expectations are things like:
Expecting our spouse to always do things our way – the truth is that Marriage requires compromise – each partner has a different background and experiences.
Expecting our spouse to always make us happy -- We alone are responsible for our happiness. We can’t put that responsibility on anyone else; it’s unattainable.
Expecting our spouse to always revolve his life around us – the truth is we are each individuals who willingly love and care for each other.
And thanks to the movie Jerry Maguire, expecting our spouse to complete us – when the truth is they don’t complete us. They complement us.
Think about this. When we place unrealistic expectations on our spouse that they must behave a certain way, we are, in essence, forcing them to do or be something that WE want them to be. We are ultimately trying to change them. And control their behavior.
Do we really just want them following a rule book and just doing everything we say even though they don’t want to? Or because they’re scared of us?
I don’t! I want my husband to do things for me because he wants to. Because he understands that it would make me happy. Because he loves me. Not because I lose my cool and throw things.
Expectations take away the ability for your husband to delight you and surprise you and make you happy.
Here’s something else I’d like you to think about. If we rely on another person to always meet our expectations, that means we give them the power over our emotions.
Think about it. If they do something to make us feel happy, we feel happy, but if they do something to make us feel sad, we feel sad.
This means that the only way we are going to feel happy is if our husband behaves how we want him to.
That is not a realistic expectation.
I’m here to tell you, this approach does not lead to happiness in marriage. Because I have been there.
What does lead to happiness in marriage is letting go of expecting our husbands to behave a certain way.
And guess what! This feels like freedom.
I am imagining a string connected between me and my husband. The string represents the tie of my emotions to his behavior. When I let go of expectations, I cut the string and we are both free. It feels so much better than worrying over whether or not he will do something that makes me feel happy.
This doesn’t mean we can’t ask our husband to pick up the toys on a girls night out night. Or take out the trash on a regular basis. Or whatever we would like to ask of him.
If you’re struggling with unmet expectations in your marriage I have a couple of tools for you.
1. Step back from the situation. Calm down. Then have a conversation. Try to ask him – at a time when you are not angry – about why he is not doing what you are asking of him. And really listen to what he is saying. He likely has a reason that makes a whole lot of sense. I have a whole podcast about how to have a difficult conversation – I’ll post the link in the show notes. Listen to it before you talk to him. It will help.
2. The second tool I would like to share with you is to help you analyze the situation that’s got you upset. It is called The Model and it was created by Master Coach Instructor Brooke Castillo.
In this Model, a circumstance, happens, we have a thought about it, which causes us to have a feeling about it, which causes us to take an action, which brings about a result.
So, in our example today the circumstance is that my husband did not pick up the toys. My thought was that he should have picked up the toys. I felt anger, which caused me to slam toys into the toy box, which then caused the result of an argument with my husband and killed the intimacy in our marriage for the evening.
Circumstance: my husband did not pick up the toys
Thought: he should have picked up the toys
Action: slam toys into the toy box
Result: an argument with my husband and killed the intimacy in our marriage for the evening
When I step back and look at this incident put it into the Model, I can see my negative thought about him not meeting an expectation caused a negative result. So, now I get to choose. How do I want to think and feel about this. What do I want to do about this.
If you want to look at the show notes, I wrote out a sample Model for you so you can try it on your own.
So, you can use this Model to process a situation when you had an expectation that was not met to see how you want to handle it.
So, maybe a sporadic incident like this here and there doesn’t cause too much trouble in marriage, but repeated incidents like these are killing the intimacy in our marriages in a big way. Take it from me. I’ve been there. And this is true for so many women.
The great news is that you can stop the insanity and bring the intimacy back!
I know this is a big concept to grasp. And it is so much more easily said than done. If it is resonating with you, start practicing with it on small expectations before working on the big ones. See how it goes.
If you would like to work on this with a coach, reach out to me for a complimentary consultation where you will get to experience what it’s like to have the full attention of an experienced life coach listening to you in a non-judgmental, compassionate setting.
We will take a look at where you are, where you want to be and come up with a plan to get you there. Just this conversation alone will give you relief from the challenges you are currently facing.
Remember to download my free marriage communication masterclass and don’t forget to join the Life Designed Community on Facebook!
Thank you! See you next time!