When you hear the phrase “healthy relationship” what do you think of?
Maintaining a healthy relationship is about much more than sex. The principles of building healthy relationships apply and are vital to all types of relationships – friendships, family relationships, and yes – romantic relationships too.
Care Net SoMD offers relationship education through it’s program REEF (Relationship Essentials that Equip Families). For more information about this program, to take a class or schedule a group class, contact Outreach and Education Director, Shelby Whitlock.
One Principle of Healthy Relationships: Expectations v. Reality
Most, if not all, of us want to feel good about our relationships. When reality does not live up to expectations, disappointment, anger, hurt and resentment can occur. Similarly, when expectations meet or exceed reality, the result is excitement, thankfulness, happiness and feelings of love and satisfaction.
Consider the example: if Suzie expects Bobby to bring her flowers for their one month anniversary and Bobby does not even remember the anniversary – Suzie feels disappointed and maybe even angry or hurt. She may wonder if he really even cares or values the relationship as much as she does. However, if Bobby brings flowers and tickets to see Suzie’s favorite band in concert – Suzie becomes excited and thankful – she is happy and feels that Bobby really cares for her.
Are Suzie’s expectations reasonable?
What if Bobby really does care but he doesn’t realize that a one month anniversary holds such importance to Suzie?
What he can’t afford flowers because he’s saving his money to take her on a special date later in the year?
If we are unaware of our own expectations, unreasonable in our expectations, or fail to communicate our expectations, or if our expectations can not be met because of unwillingness or inability – then we can be stuck in a state of disappointment. Satisfaction in a relationship is much more likely if we are aware of expectations, they are reasonable, clearly communicated and there is a willingness to try to meet them.
If Suzie tells Bobby ahead of time that she is excited about their approaching one-month anniversary and that she would really love to receive a bouquet of flowers for the occasion then Bobby understand her expectations and either meet them or communicate his inability (or unwillingness) to meet them. If they both communicate the expectations, the couple will likely avoid unnecessary conflict.
Be aware that there are realities in your life that you have no power to change. When there are circumstances that you are unable (not unwilling) to change you must change your expectations to be able to cope with the disappointment. For example, if Suzie and Bobby are scheduled to go on a picnic but it rains, they must change their expectations. Expectations often must change when major life changes occur such as someone losing a job or being diagnosed with an illness.
HELPFUL TIP: Take time to make a list of three types of expectations; some expectations you have for yourself, some expectations you have for friends, and some expectations you have for your partner. Also, include in that list realities that cannot be changed.