Most marriages begin with high expectations. Weddings, whether large or small, were the public celebrations of this glorious new life of “happily ever after.”
Wedding vows, besides setting contractual expectations for the relationship, proclaim a dream that includes love and honor one another “until death do us part.”
Some of our high marital expectations are conscious and some are not. Of course, it’s hard enough to meet someone’s explicitly stated expectations. The ones that are hidden when even the person who has them doesn’t realize they exist? Impossible!
Yet we’re still disappointed when our conscious and unconscious expectations of our mate don’t happen. Not only are we shocked and upset when our expectations aren’t met, but we also attribute meaning to the fact that they aren’t met. “If he really loved me, he would. . .” “If she really cared about me, she would. . .” Any of that sound familiar?
We assume (mistakenly) that our partner under- stands our expectations and values the same things we do.
So when expectations are not fulfilled, we see ourselves or our partner as a big disappointment. Your expectations were not right or wrong. They just were what they were.
But for now, the disappointment of unmet expectations and broken dreams can be devastating and very painful. You may place a lot of blame on your spouse that he/she did not live up to your expectations or promises made. You may blame yourself and feel a lot of guilt that your marriage did not turn out to be “happily ever after.”
The truth is, more often than not, both parties contribute to the breakdown of a marriage. And how you deal with your feelings of pain and disappointment will have a tremendous impact on how difficult or reasonable the divorce process is for you.
The next decision you make about how to come apart may be the most important decision of your lifetime. Come see me for a consultation to discuss your divorce options.