Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Our Relationship Part 4: Tempering Unrealistic Expectations

For all of my life, I've had expectations of precisely how my life would play out. I had an idea, this picture perfect idea, of what it looked liked. The picture was so clear that I could almost touch it. I could smell it. I could feel it. The visions in my mind were nearly tangible. And they were carved in stone, making them a permanent imprint of my life sketch. My life was destined to be flawless.

That all changed in one day. In those moments, I knew without a lick of uncertainty that my dreams and reality had been drastically changed. I didn't grasp the magnitude of how it would change for quite some time, and even then, my dreams were still somewhat intact. Sure they had changed, but I held onto how my life would be/should be moving forward with an iron first. I tightly grasped onto what I "deserved" and never planned on settling for anything less than a perfect life with a perfect man. After all I had been through, I believed that the stars would align and I would be blessed with my "picture perfect life". I expected that everything would pick up exactly where it had left off and the transition would be so smooth that there would be absolutely no evidence that there was ever any kind repair work done.

That's the hauntingly beautiful truth of hope, as Seth has talked about in another post here. It will build you up time and time again, and it will smack you down harder than you could have ever dreamed it would time and time again.

I hoped for and sought out perfection so much so, that the realistic parts of life were slowly fading away. I began to overlook the good things, the good people (more specifically men), and the goodness because I was so focused on what my life wasn't, and found myself wasting quality time dreaming about what it "should be". 
In a moment of pure frustration about how parts of my life weren't going as smoothly as I had hoped, a wise friend said to me as we were standing on an escalator in Macy's "Jacy, whatever it is you thought your "traditional family life" would be, I very seriously invite you to flush those ideas down the toilet and say goodbye. Never look back. Those days are over."  When she said those words, I remember my heart just sinking.

What do you mean flush my ideas of what life "should be" down the toilet? You mean, give into mediocrity? Or settle for something less than ideal?

I spent much time fighting against this seemingly negative advice about letting go of my "expected life" as best as I could until one day, I replayed her words, I dug in deep and I realized that hidden within them, there was a very wise, simple and not-so-hopeless truth just waiting to be dissected, discovered and explored.

And this lengthy introduction leads me to Tip #4 in our relationship series:

Tempering Unrealistic Expectations.

With the big things (like a flawless life and finding a perfect man) and the little, day-to-day, things, too.

This is something I had no idea how to successfully do without the help of my amazingly grounded husband, Seth. I have spent so much time stewing over what it should be, that I was missing what it actually was. Because of his wisdom on this topic, I asked Seth to briefly talk about why he believes tempering expectations is so crucial in a marriage, as well why this powerful insight has been so beneficial in our personal relationship.


Hey there, Seth here. I'm here to talk to you about expectations.

First, you have to understand what realistic expectations look like in your particular situation. Every one of us will have different scenarios.

Obvious and realistic expectations for Jacy and I consist of: honesty, loyalty, fidelity, and respect to name a few. These are the things we count on and "expect" from one another.

Some of the unrealistic expectations we've had to let go of consist of: regular snuggle sessions and back rubs, words of affirmation day in and day out, and hot homemade cooked meals every single night of the week. These are things that we both enjoy, but we understand that life is often very busy therefor, it might be a McDonalds sort of night without intimate romancing.

In my previous marriage, I was used to home cooked meals on the dinner table almost every night when I got home from work. My wife was an excellent cook and this was something I grew very accustomed to. After my divorce, because of what I knew in my previous marriage, I had this idea in my mind that my new wife would do exactly what my old wife did- spend much time in the kitchen creating gourmet food for me to enjoy. It was a bit of a culture shock when I found out that Jacy doesn't like to cook at all. Because of this, I had to readjust my expectations and remember that I was with an entirely new woman, with a whole new set of strengths and weaknesses.

The same thing goes for her on my behalf. Jacy was used to a lot of words of affirmation. She had grown very fond of being told all the reasons she was loved. She loves physical touch and displays of affection. This was how she felt secure in past relationships. As you can imagine, it was quite the challenge when she discovered that I was not the mushy kind of guy. I'm not a man of many words, instead I choose to display how I feel through my actions and consistency. To this day, we still have conversations (and Jacy has tears) about our differences in love languages. She is learning that she is with an entirely new man, one that is not comfortable with poems and PDA. In these conversations, we acknowledge and validate and then we work on meeting one another in places where we are both comfortable.

So here's what we are learning together about expectations-

Defining what realistic expectations are in your life, per your situation, is critical. Once you do this, tempering unrealistic expectations will allow for your partner's strengths to shine. And if you let the walls of life, love and relationships "according to you" down and observe how other's display their love for you, I think it's pretty hard to be disappointed. By always keeping the person you love at the top of your priority list, while keeping your own individual progression of how you can be a better human being on that same level of importance, it will provide a mutual understanding, respectful and fulfilling type of relationship.

In conclusion, aspects of your marriage might not be what you initially envisioned, but it can be better than that! The way I see it, living life being pleasantly surprised is much more enjoyable than being constantly disappointed.

PART 1 of this series- Trusting Yourself

PART 2 of this series- Communication Blueprint

PART 3 of this series- A "Healthy Addition"


  1. great post guys. thanks! I think too often people think that any expectation is unhealthy, but I think that having realistic expectations helps you determine the direction you would like to head.

  2. Thank you for this post, Jacy and Seth. It is what I needed to hear today. My attitude is totally a "rip the banaid right off" attitude. When I realized I was surely getting a divorce, I wanted it done so I could move on and find a better man than the first time. Since I'm still right in the middle of my divorce and don't plan to date any time soon, I hope this post will help me in the future. My expectations are ridiculously high and they shouldn't be. Nobody is perfect. If I remarry, he WILL have flaws.
    The blog post I wrote this morning started out almost exactly like yours and it started to freak me out. They did end up taking two different directions but I love how similar you seem to me. I also hate cooking, by the way. I would never do it if home cooked meals didn't save my family money. :)


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