Disappointment is the shadow cast by expectation- as quoted by Cindy Color &Light in response to my blog yesterday. I love this thought, because it so accurately sums up what I was thinking, without knowing that was what I was thinking.
Yesterday I started with the premise that it is inevitable that we will disappoint those that we are in relationships with. I know some thought that this was a rather harsh and sad way to view life and relationships- which it is, but is it also just the reality of relationships? The reality of two or more people interacting? So I decided to break this down a bit more.
Last weekend the plan was that my husband I would have dinner at a bar/restaurant down the street from my home. My expectation was that it would just be the two of us.
He called me on Friday and asked if I would mind inviting two other couples to the evening. I said fine, thought I was slightly disappointed because I really didn’t feel like a group- you know- introvert- groups suck up my energy. My expectation was that we would meet them at the place at 7pm.
Saturday arrives, and it turns out that my Husband has invited the couples over to our house at 6pm, for cocktails before dinner. I am now disappointed again, because it is not what I envisioned.
Unbeknownst to me, my Husband has also reached out to another couple, (who are with friends) to meet up with us. The texting between my Husband and this group begins at 6. The group is growing larger, as is my disappointment.
The original six go to the restaurant at 7. Continued texting is going on between my husband and the other group- they keep saying they are on their way. Fine. Disappointment rises up a notch.
It turns out we need to order ASAP because apparently the kitchen closes at 7:30- now if you know anything about NYC and bar food in general this is just bizarre, and another disappointment, but that’s a whole other story…
So the six at the restaurant order, we get our food and drinks, we watch college football, whatever. At 9pm, the other group still hasn’t arrived, but the rest of us, we’re ready to call it a night.
At 9:15 we settle the bill. We are literally seconds away from putting on our coats. I am tired, cranky and am done with the evening.
Of course, the other group arrives.
I want to leave.
My husband says- “You can’t leave. It will look bad. You need to stay.”
My expectation is that I matter more to him than people who show up as we’re about to leave.
His expectation is that I suck it up.
My disappointment that he puts their feelings ahead of mine.
His disappointment that I wouldn’t take one for the team.
It doesn’t matter, because we all have feelings, and both of us felt trampled on. Both of us had expectations and both were disappointed when the expectations weren’t met.
Let’s look to the larger picture. In the context of a long term relationship, is this a deal breaker?
- If the situation is a one off, never happened before, never happens again, it’s probably one small incident that doesn’t interfere in your relationship.
- If it happens maybe once a year, it’s a slight annoyance.
- If it happens continually, it’s the beginnings of a problem.
When we’re in a relationship we expect things. That’s what vows are at a wedding ceremony- you are setting the minimal expectations that involve being part of a union. We also may expect that we will have children, or buy a house, or travel the world. If our partner (or child, or parent) doesn’t share those expectations…what happens?