I fully connected with this message from Dr. Gary Chapman who is the author of The 5 Love Languages. It is a gentle reminder to have appreciation for our relationships.
Given enough time, conflict and frustration will inevitably arise within relationships. Whether a coworker, friend, parent, child, or spouse, one simply cannot avoid the friction that occasionally (or not so occasionally) results from being individually-minded humans.
You see, we all come into relationships with expectations—some spoken, some unspoken. Some of our expectations may be reasonable (to us, anyway), while others may be idealized and unrealistic. But . . . can I share something with you?
Your expectations in a relationship are determining how you are experiencing that relationship.
When your expectations are being met, the world is grand. When your expectations go unmet, frustration ensues.
Are you are frustrated in a relationship right now? Try to look past the surface irritations and simply ask yourself, “What am I expecting from this person that isn’t lining up with my experience?” Then look closely at your expectations and observe the following:
- Where did your expectation originate? Was it something from your family of origins, formed from a past hurt, or possibly cultivated from watching TV or reading books about relationships?
- Is your expectation realistic? If your expectation of a relationship came from an idealized scenario on television, it may not be reasonable. For example, if you are married and expect your spouse to never disagree with you—unrealistic.
- Is your expectation reasonable? There may be times when your expectations are realistic, but maybe not in the moment or season. Your best friend didn’t call you when you needed some encouragement. Does that mean they don’t care? Chances are, that’s likely not what’s happening. Instead of getting mad and isolating yourself, why not reach out to them first and share what you are going through? This leads to my next observation . . .
- Have you communicated your expectation clearly?Sometimes we expect people to read our minds. If you are frustrated about an unmet expectation that you haven’t communicated, then your frustration is your own fault. Once you communicate your expectations, the other party will either agree to meet you there or not. If not, then at least you can have a conversation and possibly come to an agreeable solution for both of you.
Your frustration shows you really do care about your relationship, despite how you feel. Think about it.
Doing the work above will help alleviate that frustration though and ultimately develop a stronger healthier relationship with the people you care about the most.
from Dr. Gary Chapman
Author of The 5 Love Languages