Never Enough Because of My Unrealistic Expectations

April 8, 2021 by Kristy

My husband and I were talking about how there are all these people around us that are currently or have recently divorced.  Of course we are not in their shoes and we don’t know what their real struggles are but looking in from the outside, it seems like a lot of divorces or break-ups are caused by one spouse wanting more and one spouse not wanting more.  One spouse may be completely fine with their income and status in the world.  The other spouse never has enough.  They want more- more money, or more things, maybe even more kids, or they want to change the world and won’t stop, Ever!  I even know at least two couples who parted ways because the husband was content and the wife wanted the husband to excel or apply themselves more.  With both of these couples, it was the wife that was unhappy because of the expectations she was placing on her husband.

The best advice I ever received regarding marriage was, “stop putting expectations on your spouse”.  According to the definition of expectation is “a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future.” The expectations that we create for ourselves and for others are based on what we have experienced in the past. They are based on hurts, failures, achievements, beliefs, and traumas that we have lived through. To rephrase—expectations are the result of us using our past to predict our future. 

Those six little words, “Stop putting expectations on your spouse” have completely changed my life.  Let me take you to my train of thought at that time.  I was attending a positive thinking seminar with about 1500 other people.  The people putting on the seminar were trying to get you to sign up for their marriage seminar.  At that moment, I had been married for 22 years and although James and I have always had a pretty good relationship, I was feeling a bit disappointed with him.  I was feeling resentment towards him because he had expectations on me that I wasn’t fulfilling and I was having resentment towards him because I felt- he felt, I wasn’t enough.  We both had put expectations on each other and we did so without really communicating what we really needed from the other person.

It wasn’t only James expectations on me that was causing me resentment, it was also the expectations that I had on myself.  I had just finished a stint of volunteering for 3 and a half years in a position that I absolutely loved.  I spent a lot of time thinking and planning things out for those whom I volunteered for.  I had a lot of expectations on myself that I couldn’t and wouldn’t fail those kids.  I felt like I was changing the world and I didn’t know how to stop. I didn’t want to stop.  Just like that my time was over, and then I no longer knew what I was supposed to do during all my free time.  James felt like my free time should be used to work on this business, but I do not like being told what to do and so in my subconscious- I was not going to let him tell me what to do. I had forgotten that what James was trying to help me with, is making my dreams come true, our dreams come true.  The dreams we had been working on for the last 22 years!  But in all honesty, he was going about it all wrong.  I have never been one to let others have control of me or control of the way I feel.  But for a few months, while I was drifting pointlessly and trying to re-find myself, I felt like he was forcing his will upon me and I felt like I wasn’t enough and that I never would be enough.  I wasn’t contemplating divorce, but with me not being happy with myself, I wasn’t happy with our relationship either.  Nor was he happy, because I was doing everything in my power to cause him misery.

It was no longer easy to talk with him, and share my dreams, and confide in him.  I felt alone and isolated and because he was always in my space but not really “with me”, I started to think of him as my enemy.  I told myself, “He just wasn’t enough”.  He wasn’t doing enough to help me, he was actually in my way and preventing me from what I wanted (even though I had forgotten what it was I really wanted).  I never stopped to consider that without me telling him what I needed, he had no clue.  After hearing those words at the seminar and me spending time pondering what expectations I was putting on him, I stopped. 

I stopped putting expectations on him!  I started talking with him again!  I began to remember that his dreams and my dreams are the same.  Things got better and we became stronger again.  We both were able to stop guessing what the other one wanted and start doing what needed to get done to change the world.  We both started to remember that alone we are never enough but that together we are ALWAYS ENOUGH!