Align Your Expectations in Marriage and Life

This past weekend, I blew a gasket, and in doing so, I almost blew up our marriage.

Over coffee just a few days in advance, Teresa shared with me that she intended to take Catherine to the final out-of-town soccer tournament. We had been trading on and off: one would go to baseball, the other to soccer.

With baseball ending the weekend before, despite it being my turn, Teresa was making herself available to take Catherine to soccer. I understood it. Being with her daughter and having dedicated time together was important to her.

But I was also upset. There’s nothing I love more than having those dedicated moments myself, and combining that with an athletic tournament where I get to see my kids having fun and living life, competing with the same vigor with which I pursue my own life, gives me great joy. It is the single biggest thing I look forward to in my life: watching my kids compete, have fun, and use their God-given talents on the the sports field.

I shared with Teresa that I really wanted to go, that I didn’t want to miss it. She explained that there were multiple activities. We decided together to look for different ways for me to somehow be involved.

Over the course of the next few days, my work exploded. There was a ton going on and I simply couldn’t find ways to clear my calendar. I had asked Teresa to send me the schedule and I had asked her to think with me how we might find alternative plans. But by Friday night, nothing had been put into place.

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I was furious. There was no way for me to make it to the out-of-town tournament. I made known my displeasure. I blew up.

Looking back, with the problem solved, I realize that my frustration stemmed from having great expectations. I have always had this perception in my head that it is Teresa’s responsibility to figure out logistics for our kids. I consider it part of her job to find ways for our family to operate, to prioritize our time with the kids, and to figure out how we will spend it. I consider carpools and babysitting to be her job.

Teresa, on the other hand — and rightly so — perceives my responsibility to be that of a helpmate. She knows that the busyness of our life is largely due to my schedule and my desire for the kids to be able to participate in the activities they love. It is stressful for her to consider all of the moving parts of a weekend away. She has homeschooling activities and many other things to do throughout the day.

As a result, her expectations are out of sync with mine, and mine are out of sync with hers.

The deep fight that we had over the weekend was due to an underlying mismatch of great expectations. I was furious that Teresa failed to recognize my desire to be with Catherine and understand that that was more important than anything else we had going on over the weekend. I perceived it this way because of my expectation that she was responsible for making all of the logistics happen.

Teresa, on the other hand, perceived in me an unreasonable expectation of her having to do it all. She felt backed in a corner, as though she had to pick up the pieces for the demands I was putting on her. She has an expectation that, as helpmates, we work together and that I participate in the logistics of the family.

It’s important in a marriage and for the sake of the kids that we figure out how to align our expectations, get on the same page, and communicate without blowing a gasket.

[reminder]Have you faced a similar misalignment of expectations in your marriage? How have you dealt with it?[/reminder]

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Mark Kalpakgian says:

    Love this! Great anecdote around the importance of communication. It is something I continue to work on too!

    1. David DeWolf says:

      Thanks Mark — I’m glad someone can love my selfishness. Luckily, Teresa loves me in spite of it.

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