This month, we wanted to discuss a topic that we help couples work through regularly: managing expectations of and in your relationship. Kahlil Gibran wrote, “Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, Even as the strings of the lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.” So, what does this mean? At its simplest, he’s explaining that you must invest in yourself for the good of your relationship.
Social media has done a number on the expectations one should have in a relationship. #relationshipgoals and extravagant, picture perfect dates are not the norm, nor do they represent a level that your relationship has to reach in order to be successful. Remember, social media shows the parts of people’s lives that they want to highlight – you don’t see the hard work that goes into making the relationship truly work.
To start, we must adjust unrealistic expectations that our partner will fulfill all of our needs, such as being not only a lover, but best friend, cheerleader, caretaker, breadwinner, supporter and confidante all at once. Accept your partner for who they actually are rather than who you wish they were or who social media and society tells you they should be. Do you like painting but your partner likes hiking and you don’t? We’ll let you in on a little secret… that’s okay! You don’t have to do everything together. In fact, spending time apart can actually increase desire. Pursue YOUR interests and passions and support your partner’s, even if it’s from afar.
Set Yourselves Up For Success
At the same time, we may expect our relationships to include acting with high levels of vulnerability, authenticity, empathic communication, good risk-taking all while acting openly, directly, and developing the ability to manage conflict with strong interpersonal communication. These are great goals, but a lot of weight if we expect them all at once. Instead, know these elements can develop over time and set your relationship up for success by expecting the relationship to be good enough for you and your partner, not picture perfect. We may have our perfect fantasy, but fantasy is not reality. Also, stop assuming you know everything about your partner. Instead, value that you will always be able to learn about them if you stay curious and interested in them and their interests. This is not a sign of weakness as we’re ever evolving as people. In fact, the best relationships utilize the idea that we can always continue to learn about our partners as the years pass.
Prioritize Quality Time
We can (and should) spend at least a few hours of quality time, date time and planning sex and intimacy with our partners regularly. Remember, the goal is QUALITY time, not necessarily quantity of time. Time with our partners should contain high quality, positive neuron-inducing moments that flow through our neural pathways to bring us joy and excitement. Make plans and set a routine, such as weekly or bimonthly dates, and also be spontaneous to avoid feeling like you’re just going through the motions.
By adjusting expectations, we can exceed our expectations in relationships. We think that calls for a celebration, don’t you?