We usually mosey into relationships seeing their obvious possibilities, imagining specified outcomes, cocooning them with our own expectations.
But what actually occurs is often shockingly different from what we expected.
The person you wanted to marry has a phobia about commitment. The woman you knew would make a great mother decides to go off to law school.
The suitor with the bottomless trust fund decides to give away all his money and live in a cave. Surprising revisions can happen on even at the simplest levels: “When I fell in love with him, he was wearing a black cashmere sweater and a pair of black dress pants; but after I married him, all he would wear was sweatshirts, his favorite sports hats and jeans.”
Expectations come in two forms: general and specific. General expectations have to do with our dreams and plans for a specific relationship that it will lead to marriage, that it will bring you children, that it will make you “happy.” Specific expectations have to do with what we think we can count on day-to-day – he’ll take out the trash, she’ll handle the kids in a way I approve of. On one level, these expectations are all quite reasonable; it’s appropriate to have long-range plans and goals, and it’s legitimate to expect specific kinds of participation from your partner.
But when your relationship becomes a litany of failed expectations— what you hoped for but didn’t get—– its time to look at what’s happening from an entirely different perspective. Perhaps, instead of needing to “communicate better” or “negotiate your differences” on an emotional level, you’re being asked, on a spiritual level, to learn to accept what is.
Accepting — finding a way to be comfortable with things as they are—- is actually a very developed spiritual state. It means that you’re relinquished the preconceptions of your ego and surrendered to what’s been given to you. Maybe he’s not the provider you hoped for, but his spiritual strength is a constant inspiration; perhaps she’s not the housekeeper you wanted, but the way she nurtures your children is absolutely beautiful.
Acceptance allows your spirit to grow. When you’re able to recognize the little miracles and great lessons that replace your expectations, you suddenly discover that what you hoped for— was pitifully puny compared to what was actually held in store for you. And in a way far more complex and elegant than you could have imagined, your life is following a sacred design.
So if you want a life that is larger than life and a relationship that is finer than even your wildest hopes, peel back your expectations and start to accept the good in what is. (This only applies to mentally stable people.)