Avoid Unrealistic Expectations

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Rev. Dr. Chris Jackson Relationship Coach

I remember when I was dating back during my college years and I used to ask some of my dates subjective diagnostic questions that I had devised, secretly hoping for them to give the answer that I had predetermined to be “right”.  When they gave a different answer, I would be disappointed. One day one of my dates wisely said to me: “I think you’re trying to make me like you.” How right she was and how wrong I was for subconsciously sabotaging the relationship by constructing preconceived parameters for relationship success.  Most people view themselves as the personification of NORMAL. Consequently anything and anybody who is less than them falls short of the mark, and anything and anybody more than them has just gone overboard. Measuring other people by ourselves is a dangerous practice and that is why we need an objective, dependable standard by which to determine good and bad, right and wrong.  For me, this is where the Word of God and the Spirit of God become indispensible in processing life and relationships. At the end of the day when it comes to right and wrong, it’s not necessarily about what I think, but it’s about what God says. Understanding this perspective helps tremendously when it comes to understanding the differences between objective truth and our personal opinion and preferences.

In the book entitled, What if I Married the Wrong Person? by Dr. Richard E. Matteson & Janis Long Harris, they list some things that are unrealistic to expect of one’s mate. These items include but are not limited to the following: It is unrealistic to expect your mate to meet all your emotional, social, and emotional needs. (This could result in a form of co-dependency. A healthy relationship equation is not 0 + 1 = 1, but more like 1+1= 1.)  It is unrealistic to expect your mate to make life interesting for you. (Everyone is responsible for playing their part in working the relationship. Boring people are easily bored. Interesting people are frequently interested and interesting.) Now comes a difficult one: It is unrealistic to expect your mate to like your family. (While it is important for spouses to get along with in-laws, spouses can’t be expected to have the same level of love for your relatives as you have.) It is unrealistic to expect your mate to have the same degree of interest in sex that you do. (This can be another tough one, but sexual desire can be affected by a wide variety of interior and exterior stimuli from hormonal changes to job and family stress. About the best that one can hope for is a mutual understanding and a spirit of compromise hopefully leading to resolution.)  It is unrealistic to expect your mate to have a consistently intense level of feeling for you throughout the years. (There is a natural pattern of ebb and flow within relationships, so don’t be too alarmed when one party’s interest takes a dip.) Finally, it is unrealistic to expect your mate to have exactly the same spiritual needs and ways of meeting those needs as you do. (Let God be God in me, and let God be God in you.)

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