5 Reasons Why Defining Relationship Expectations Sets Couples Up For Success In Love

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5 Reasons Why Defining Relationship Expectations Sets Couples Up For Success In Love

Relationships can be sorely tested by the stay-at-home measures being recommended during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic going on right now.

However, defining relationship expectations now can keep all of your relationships healthy and can possibly help mend damaged ones so you can move forward, stronger than ever.

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In these modern times, establishing expectations at work is something that is done as a matter of course. But unfortunately, establishing relationship expectations is not so common.

Not having expectations around anything is a recipe for things to go awry.

So why does defining relationship expectations make such a difference, especially in these scary times?

Here are 5 reasons why so you can set up your own relationship for success.

1. Everyone knows what to expect.

One of the key reasons why defining relationship expectations now are so important is that everyone knows what to expect.

Think about when you start a new project at work. The first thing that is laid out is the participation expectations of everyone on the team.

That way, as the project moves forward, everyone knows what their role is, which ensures that the project will be a success.

In a relationship, things work the same way. If you both can define what your expectations are, then your relationship has a better chance of staying healthy.

In my relationship, our expectations are as follows:

  • I will decide what we are going to eat. I will cook and he will do the dishes, preferably right after dinner, but that is negotiable.
  • We will take a walk together every day, no excuses.
  • I won’t blurt out the horrible things that I read in the news without his permission.
  • He gets two hours in the garage daily to putter.
  • I get a foot rub four nights a week.

These are the things that are most important to us and that we both expect from our relationship.

Imagine if we didn’t understand each other’s expectations — if he didn’t do the dishes and I just blurted out horrible news.

How quickly would we get upset with each other? How quickly would our nerves begin to fray?

So, take the time and talk to your partner about your expectations, both around the coronavirus and the big picture. It will be worth it, I promise.

2. You can start with honesty.

Every healthy relationship is built on honesty, and defining expectations is an important part of being honest.

A client of mine is full of resentment around what her husband does and doesn’t do around the house. The problem is, she has never told him what she wants him to do — she just expects that he will figure it out.

As a result, she passive-aggressively nudges him to do what she wants him to do. And it pisses him off that she isn’t direct and that makes it more likely that he won’t get it done.

He tells me that if she were just honest with him about what she wanted done and he was honest with her about what he could do, they would be able to navigate all of this much better and eliminate the underlining tension existing in their household.

So, be honest with your partner about what you want so that you can include it in your expectations.

Even if your partner isn’t sure he can meet the expectation, you have put it out there honestly so that you can discuss it.

3. You can better manage disagreements.

Let’s say that my boyfriend fails to do the dishes after agreeing that that was my expectation. Now, imagine my client’s husband failing to do the dishes because he doesn’t know that he is expected to do them.

Now, which couple's argument around the dishes would be loudest and longest?

If my boyfriend knowingly didn’t do the dishes, it would be hard for him to argue that I was being unreasonable and difficult. He would, hopefully, acknowledge that he dropped the ball and we would move on with our day.

If my client’s husband didn’t do the dishes, the fight that would ensue or the extended simmering anger would be something that would not be easily managed.

She didn’t ask for what she wanted and he didn’t do it on his own, which would just lead to disagreement that has probably happened before.

This disagreement will never be settled and would lead to more issues down the road.

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4. You can celebrate when things go right.

One of the nicest things about setting expectations is that when they are met, we have an opportunity to thank each other and celebrate.

When expectations are met, we know when our needs are being honored. And that makes us feel happier and more secure in our relationship.

When my boyfriend gets to have his two hours in the garage, even if I wanted him to help me in the garden, he is a happy camper.

He not only gets his time on his own, but that he gets to do so makes him love me even more. And when he is that happy, my foot rubs are much longer.

So, while setting expectations can be difficult at first, when you stick to them, good things can be the result.

5. You can be hopeful.

People say that divorce attorneys are experiencing higher than normal inquiries into their services.

Couples who were previously able to ignore their marital issues because of the busyness of their lives are now unable to do so. As a result, problems that were long-simmering are rearing their ugly heads.

Imagine if you and your partner were able to sit down and define what you both wanted during this extended period together.

Imagine if instead of resenting each other for the things that haven’t been done, you are honest with each other about what you need. You would be so happy when those needs were met.

Imagine how that would serve to not only heal a relationship, but also to give it hope for the future.

For years, my biggest resentment around my ex-husband was that he started projects that he never finished. Our garage was filled with Home Depot bags full of parts that were never actually used.

I wish that I had, even once, spoken up around my struggles with all of those Home Depot bags. If I had asked him directly to finish a project before he started another one, who knows, it might have saved my marriage.

In this time of isolation, work on sharing what you both want in a relationship and see if you can work together to give each other those things.

If you can do this, instead of repeating old patterns that are tearing you apart, something really good could come from this current crisis — a relationship strong and healthy, a family intact.

Defining relationship expectations can seem kind of contrived and unromantic, but doing so can make a huge difference in a couple’s happiness.

But setting expectations — ones that you both are aware of and have agreed to — can go a long way towards healing a damaged relationship and preventing a healthy one from getting damaged.

So, be honest, stop the fighting, celebrate taking care of each other, and be hopeful for the future.

I know it might seem daunting, but you can do it!

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Mitzi Bockmann is an NYC-based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. She works exclusively with women to help them to be all that they want to be in this crazy world in which we live. Contact her for help or send her an email.

This article was originally published at Let Your Dreams Begin. Reprinted with permission from the author.