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What does your ‘picture perfect’ look like?

Must she be low maintenance, go quad-biking with you and be able to make a stew just like you mother? Must she be able to get ready in 15-minutes max and then look like a supermodel? Must she be superwoman in the boardroom and putty in your hands?

He (doesn’t say it out loud, but thinks it): “I wish you were independent enough to be able to change a wheel and bring a salary home, big enough that I can afford my golf. I wish you made me a plate of food for dinner every evening. I wish the lounge wasn’t so messy. And I wish I had clean, clever and well-mannered children!”

She: “Don’t you think I can read your thoughts? It’s your children too. How must I teach them manners if you want your shit ironed in such a specific manner? And where must I get the energy from to make dinner for you tonight after I have changed the tyre, and the children played hide-and-seek in the pothole . . . and I have to explain to my boss why I was late for a budget meeting? I may not be superwoman, but if you would be happy with MacDonalds for dinner, kids with reasonably clean faces and a fridge full of groceries, then I should be more than enough for you.”

The dangers of unrealistic expectations . . .
Does the above sound roughly familiar? You ask what she can’t give and she asks what you can’t provide . . . Fantasies of unrealistic expectations appear as unexpectedly as mildew on your ceiling (you could’ve sworn that you fixed the leak!) and for you the expectation isn’t so unrealistic at all. But by cherishing creative fantasies about what your partner must and mustn’t do, is dangerous, according to experts. If you don’t realise that your standards are impossibly high, then you set yourself up for disappointment. Guaranteed. And then you must know, you are responsible for the fact that you feel unfulfilled . . .

To a degree, this is roughly normal. In the beginning you are madly in love and as the relationship deepens and the longer you live together, the more expectations of each other will begin to surface. You start taking each other for granted, and if, on top of that, you don’t get what you’re looking for, everything will start to irritate you.

You identify those expectations, which is nothing other than a bunch of shocking, sometimes funny and often very helpless ideas, and a lot of these is baggage that you carry with you from your childhood days. Expectations can for example include who makes the coffee in the mornings, who drops the children off and how often you have sex. It’s also a dynamic story – new expectations can come to the fore during certain turning points in your marriage. So, where you can feel satisfied the one moment, everything can change the next minute, when your boy goes to school, you experience a financial crisis or one of your parents become ill.

Here are a few questions that you can ask yourself to prevent unrealistic expectations from causing havoc to your marriage:

  • How do you know what causes it?
    Disappointment is your clue. You may not be able to pin-point your expectations, but if you experience disappointment in reaction to something that happens, you can become aware of the expectations that guide your attitude and actions.
  • Are you stuck in a previous era?
    Yip, every evening your mother made rice, meat and three types of cooked veggies for your father, but then she didn’t have a half-day post and thereafter had to take the children to extra-curricular activities.
  • Are you taking on too much?
    Ofcourse your partner has to fulfil certain expectations, but do you expect her to fulfil a range of different roles? Be realistic about what you ask of her. Not all expectations are unrealistic, and don’t give-in on what is non-negotiable.
  • Do you play your part?
    Your wife’s actions may be reactions to your behaviour. She may for example no longer make an effort with regards to her appearance because you don’t make much effort to compliment her. Maybe she feels neglected and that your marriage is a one-way street.
  • Do you compare your marriage?
    She is not like your best friend’s wife and your marriage is definitely not like theirs. Focus on the love and the war within your own marriage. No marriage is perfect and everyone is unique.

We know we sound like your mother, but you really can’t get everything that your heart desires! If she refuses to have a boob-job so that you can have a trophy wife with a CC-chest size, accept it as is and rather think about how nice she kisses (small breasts and all!). If she throws-out all your socks with holes in, be grateful that she keeps your cupboards neat. And before you know it, you are a very satisfied man!

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