My husband has been traveling this week for work. He left on Sunday morning and comes home on Friday night. I was talking to two of my girlfriends who both have little ones and they were asking how I’m managing. I think they both expected me to complain but I didn’t. It’s funny. I realized a few months ago when Chris was traveling for work that I only get bitchy about doing everything when he’s not traveling. For me, it’s all about expectations. When I know that he’s not going to be here and that I’m on my own, it’s no big deal. On the other hand, when I think he’ll be home at a certain time and I’ll get help with Brooks, dinner, or the house and I don’t, then I start to freak out. I’ve learned through the years that managing my expectations is a big part of my happiness.
I find that this is useful in every aspect of my life. I have a very busy, curious, energetic little boy. If we take him out to dinner and I expect that he is going to sit in his chair for an hour, I’m going to be disappointed and frustrated. If instead, I realize that this is too long for him to sit and plan for walks around the restaurant along with multiple other activities then we are all happier. The same goes for the classes that he’s in. I know that he’s not always going to listen to the teacher or to me. I’m learning to appreciate and celebrate the times that he does and not get my panties in a bunch every time things don’t go according to my plan.
Too often in my relationship with Chris, my plan has gotten in the way. In the early days of our marriage he used to travel 4-5 days a week. I would get so excited for him to come home that I would have it all planned out in my head. He’d be so excited to see me, we’d sit and chat and have a wonderful evening…blah, blah, blah. When he actually came in the door he was usually so exhausted that all he wanted to do was sit on the couch and play with his phone or watch t.v. At first this was crushing to me. Later I realized that if I expected this and gave him an hour to decompress then everything would be fine. It didn’t ever go exactly like I wanted it to in my head but he can’t read my mind and it’s unfair for me to expect him to.
Through the years I have also learned to manage my expectations of my friends. I believe that different people are in our lives for different reasons. Some of my friends hate the phone, others I can talk to for hours. Some friends are the ones you want to go out and get crazy with and others are the ones you call when you are in tears. One person can’t and shouldn’t have to be everything you need in a friend. Having too high of expectations for friendships can kill them.
Understanding expectations in a relationship is a process that takes time. Chris and I have gotten a lot better about it but as our lives evolve so will our relationship. Chris is not the kind of guy to bring home flowers for Valentine’s Day. Frankly, I think it’s a made up holiday so I don’t care, but I have learned if I want a card for an upcoming holiday then I should tell him. That way there are no surprises. Some may think this isn’t very romantic or maybe just plain sad, but I disagree. Knowing who I am and knowing who I married is very liberating. Being a realist has been good for me. I can honestly say that although I married a challenging man and I have a spirited and sometimes challenging son, I wouldn’t change them for the world. My life is full of love and joy and plenty of surprises.