ME: Lesson learned: Drive separately so you can leave early with your child or leave her at home with the grandparents.
MY HUSBAND: She is actually doing great.
ME: Yes, but she is going to be miserable tomorrow and it’s your grandmother’s party.
MY HUSBAND: We don’t know that.
I responded with silence as we walked back downstairs for the second time.
The truth is it wasn’t my daughter who wanted to go home, it was me. I was tired and getting grumpy, and I was using my daughter as an excuse.
I was also feeling annoyed and resentful.
- We go hang out with my husband’s cousins until 10:00ish.
- We come home early so that our daughter can go to bed (and so can I).
- We have a drink or two and eat some finger food as our dinner.
My husband’s expectation:
- We go hang out with my cousins until whenever it’s time to go.
- We got a ride from my brother-in-law, so where on his schedule, not mine.
- We arrived and started talking and drinking.
- We started eating finger food around 8:30pm
- We sat down to dinner around 10:30pm
- We walked out the door just after midnight.
Notice a difference between my expectations and my husband’s?
Notice a difference between my expectations and reality?
No wonder I was getting irritable.
I had unspoken and hidden expectations of how the night was going to unfold. As the night progressed, my expectations weren’t met, and I started getting annoyed. I started to get angry at my husband. It was his fault.
Doesn’t he know that our daughter is going to be super grumpy tomorrow?
Doesn’t he see that I am at my limit speaking French?
Doesn’t he see that while he is laughing and joking with his cousins, I am totally uninvolved?
Doesn’t he know that it is time to go?
And on and on.
When we have undeclared and hidden expectations it sets us up for trouble, especially when other people are involved.
We go into an event, situation, vacation or family dinner with an idea of how we want it to go. What we will be able to do. What others will do. How we will feel.
And when reality doesn’t match our expectations, we end up feeling any number of things. Angry. Annoyed, Disappointed. Frustrated. Resentful.
If other people are involved, they could end up feeling the same way.
So, what do you do to avoid this?
Get clear on your expectations and the expectations of others.
- Going to a family event...ask what the plan is ahead of time. If you have different plans, let them know. If you end up leaving early, they might be disappointed, but less so if they know ahead of time.
- Having guests come to visit...let them know what you expect. If you don’t want to be the tour guide, tell them in advance, so they aren’t disappointed and you aren’t feeling guilty.
- Cleaning the kitchen while your partner watches TV...ask them to help, instead of seething because they don’t “see” that you want it.
Know that you might have to adjust your expectations. Adjusting ahead of time, though, is so much easier than adjusting on the fly.
Sometimes being bold means communicating your expectations ahead of time.
(Even if you disappoint someone)