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Episode 35 // Do you want happy relationships? Let’s talk about the need for REALISTIC expectations of yourself and others.

What are we talking about today?

Our expectations shape our experience of life. What do you expect from your husband? Your job? What about your expectations of yourself, or of God?

Unmet expectations creates disappointment, discouragement, and distance in our relationships. And one of the biggest reasons that our expectations wind up going unmet is that they are sometimes unrealistic in the first place!

In my 10+ years as a counselor, I have seen the destructive power of unrealistic expectations in a marriage, with our children, and even in one’s own spiritual or emotional health.

That’s why in today’s episode, we are looking at why our expectations matter and how to shift so that we have realistic expectations of ourselves and others. 

It’s important stuff, friend. Let’s dive in. 

Listen to Episode 35:

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Snag your resources here!

If today’s topic is meaningful for you, you’ll definitely want to check out these other podcast episodes:

  • Episode 28 // Using time management strategies to boost your relationships: My 3-step process to a successful weekly schedule that strengthens my relationships AND gets the to-do list checked off!
  • Episode 23 // Why we all need intimacy in our family relationships – and how to get there!

You’ll also find a great (FREE!) resource with the 5 Tools Every Busy Mom Needs to Move Her Family From Autopilot to Intimacy.

If you’re feeling stuck in a rut with your family relationships, this free email course will help you get out of the rut and reconnect. In less than 10 minutes a day, you’ll walk away with a clear action plan for what to try and how to stay encouraged along the way!

[This post may contain affiliate links. If a purchase is made, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.] 

Today's Episode Highlights

Our expectations have a huge impact on our lives – including our relationships and our own emotional health. 

Unmet expectations bring up many difficult emotions. We may feel angry, anxious, or ashamed. Or perhaps we are confused. Maybe we feel disappointed. 

But do we back up to consider why our expectations have gone unmet in the first place?

Why our expectations matter

Our expectations (met or unmet, realistic or unrealistic) impact us in three distinct ways:

  • They impact our emotions. Do you feel anxious? disappointed? happy? satisfied? Your expectations play a role in this.
  • Expectations impact our thoughts. This includes how we think about ourselves (did I live up to my expectations of myself?) and others (am I disappointed or delighted in my expectations of my husband?)
  • Our expectations also impact our actions. Do we give up in the face of difficulties? Will we get lazy and complacent because our expectations are low anyway? What do we do?

Sometimes, our expectations go unmet simply because people are… people. We mess up. We try hard, but sometimes fall short. We get distracted, angry, or lazy. It happens!

But many times, our expectations go unmet (and are most frustratingly unmet) because they were unrealistic in the first place.

This part, we can do something about!

Tips for making sure you have realistic expectations

Let me offer four tips for making sure that your expectations are realistic. They are much more likely to be met and to build satisfaction with yourself and others if they are realistic in the first place!

  1. Know your own strengths and weaknesses, and those of your most important people. If you expect your husband to mow the lawn every weekend, but he has horrible allergies and avoids being outside in the spring… you may have an unrealistic expectation.
  2. Understand the realities of our current season of life. If you are a mama of a newborn and ready to head back to work full-time… your house will not be as clean as it was pre-baby! That would be an unrealistic expectation.
  3. Talk to your people to clarify everyone’s expectations. Are you on the same page? Are you aiming toward the same goal? What do they expect of you? It’s a recipe for failure if your expectations are significantly different.
  4. And then… set your expectations accordingly! Sometimes, we know all the information, but our heart continues to want what it wants… to expect what it wants rather than what is realistic. Be aware of this temptation! Catch it in the act. Be intentional. 

If you’ve listened to earlier podcast episodes, you know that I find it very valuable to write things down. (Check out Episode 29 for more on the incredible benefits of writing things down.) So with that in mind, let me offer a fifth secret suggestion… 

Write down your big expectations.

Family rules. Household chores. The daily schedule. There is a reason we write these things down… because they spell out our expectations!

If something is important enough that you will feel disappointed or angry if that expectation is unmet, do yourself a favor. Write it down. Get specific enough that you can put it into words. It will help tremendously!

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A reminder of the Disclaimers & Disclosures Policy: I am an affiliate with many of the resources I recommend, which means I may receive a small commission if you make a purchase through my provided links. I never recommend products I don’t love! Also, I am a licensed therapist but this podcast is not therapy. It is not professional or personal advice to your specific situation. Get info about professional counseling here.