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entry Dec 15 2007, 08:24 AM
In the last entry, we discussed love and hurt. Probably the greatest source of pain in all sorts of loving relationships comes from unspoken expectations. In marriage, these expectations cause the greatest trouble, because we all grew up with different ideas of what the greatest human relationship is all about. We say our vows, slap some rings on and then the competition begins as to who will have their expectations met. The same is true of parenting expectations, friendship, etc. just a little less pronounced.
Most of these expectations are subconscious and never expressed or agreed upon in the relationship. They come up when events trigger them, kind of like walking in a mine field. You're happily strolling along in your relationship and then, with no warning, your partner blows up in your face. Neither of you saw it coming! Neither of you is at fault! The question of love is what happens next. Do you work it out and get beyond it, or is the expectation so large it can't be dismissed.
Expectations of fidelity, morality and legality are often too large to get past, even in marriage. For instance, though it may not have been discussed, you expect your spouse to refrain from killing your parents. If your spouse kills your parents, it may be grounds for divorce. These big expectations are usually so obvious, no one has a problem with them. Usually, It's the small expectations that people are struggling with.
How you treat the small expectations can make or break a relationship. "My wife should back me up no matter what I say." "My friend should tell his wife this is our night and wives aren't part of it." "My teenager shouldn't question what I say because I'm the parent." "My husband should know how I feel. I shouldn't have to tell him." These and a million more just like them are what kills 90% of loving relationships.
If you want your relationships to be in the 10% that survive and grow, you need do only one thing. Love who they are rather than who you expect them to be. Of course, this requires a certain amount of unselfishness...that's in the next entry.

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