As a relationship expert, one of my biggest concerns about successful partnerships is that people have the wrong expectations. I truly believe that if more couples knew what to expect in marriage, there’d be far less divorce.
Here are some of the main points I consider to be more realistic: Don’t expect someone to change, accept that you each come from different backgrounds causing you to have different needs, the vital importance of respecting one another, the need to manage inevitable conflicts, and having the right communication tools.
What I’d like to address today is what I’ll label expecting imperfect perfection. Partnerships are living entities; they ebb and flow. If you look at them too closely, especially on a bad day or during a bad period, you’re not getting the whole picture.
I’m reminded of a client who came back to see me after being married for about a year. She was very concerned because she wasn’t feeling the love. I shared with her that I was frightened, too — the first time that happened with my husband. “The first time?” she asked in a puzzled way, “You mean this is normal? No one ever told me that!”
Let me put it another way: sometimes my husband looks really ugly to me. And then, suddenly, his face (and he happens to be a good-looking man), is attractive again. Clearly, what changes is not his face, but my perception.
If you only focus on the negative in someone, and then harp on those moments, you will continue to see negativity. If, on the other hand, you can accept the idea that everyone has imperfections, you free yourself to also look at the positive times. And … I dare say this is a choice you make!
A quick personal anecdote will also drive home the idea. Recently, I wasn’t feeling so much of the love with my spouse. Recently, we had plans to go out with dear friends but a migraine prevented me from going. I insisted he join them. When he got home, the migraine passed and I inquired if there were any leftovers. No … but he had stopped to buy me some soup and a bagel. Guess what … he looked especially handsome to me!
Here are some quick tips to help:
1. Know that relationships have ups and downs.
2. Realize that what has changed is YOUR perception
3. Since it’s your thinking that has changed, change your thinking: either let the momentary negative thought go or focus on the positive.
I truly believe that one of the secrets to a good relationship is looking at the whole person and accepting that there will be some bad days followed by some good. Having this knowledge and perspective will make all the difference in the world in your relationship!