Marriage Advice for Troubled Times
By Susie and Otto Collins
Are you the kind of person that tends to expect the best
from yourself and those around you? Perhaps your faith that
all will work out gets dampened by your perceptions of human
nature, on the other hand.
When you look around at your relationship and your world,
what do you anticipate and see?
If your expectations for your life, your relationship and
even your surroundings tend to be relatively positive, you
probably experience situations in a mostly affirming manner.
When a challenge comes up, you decide how best to proceed
and then move through the challenge-- usually toward
But for many of us, developing and maintaining a hopeful or
positive outlook can seem difficult. You open the newspaper
and read about destruction and trials of all sorts.
You look around you and see people in pain who are either
hurting or hurting one another. Try as we might, expecting
the best seems tough at times!
You might wonder what expectations and outlook have to do
with keeping your marriage close and connected.
We believe that your expectations can make a huge difference
and this is why...
While you cannot dictate how your partner will react to a
certain set of circumstances, you can recognize and make
changes not only in how you react, but also in what you
You could call it the self-fulfilling prophecy, the
law of attraction or something else, but more often than
not, you truly do get what you expect.
Kristi considers herself a pretty optimistic person even
though she and her husband Bob have seen their share of
Several years ago Bob admitted to Kristi that
he almost had an affair with a former girlfriend of his from
They bumped into one another at a coffee shop and began to
e-mail and re-establish communication which intensified for
a period of time.
While Kristi believes Bob when he says he did not actually
become physically intimate again with this former
girlfriend, the whole thing has put her on notice.
always worried that something like this would happen and
when it actually-- almost-- did, her fears felt confirmed.
Unfortunately, Kristi can't seem to completely release this
"almost affair." She feels like there has been a distance
between herself and Bob and she fears that it will only get
What are your expectations?
Take a deeper look at what you expect. You might easily see
that you tend to have a particular outlook on your life and
relationship or you may have to dig beneath the surface of
your thoughts and beliefs.
It seem evident to you that you and your partner will
disagree more than you agree or that he or she will one day
succumb to temptations and cheat.
It is probable that your expectations change and vary
depending on the situation. Don't get caught up in labeling
your expectations or outlook as "good" or "bad."
just pay closer attention to what it is you believe life
will offer you and how you will respond.
Some of our expectations are more solid than others. How
firm or unchangeable do particular expectations seem to you
Do your expectations match what you want?
The next question you might ask yourself is if your
expectations are a match for the kind of relationship you
The more you can explore these questions from a place
of not judging yourself or others, the easier it may be to
move closer to what you want.
After taking some time alone to reflect, Kristi realizes
that she's always had a deep fear and expectation that her
mate would cheat. She grew up knowing that her father had a
series of affairs and watching her mother painfully putting
up with his infidelity.
In part because of this early experience, Kristi almost took
it for granted that one day her partner would also cheat.
While Kristi knows that she is not to blame for Bob's
"almost affair," she realizes that her expectations were a
match for what she absolutely did not want.
She begins to wonder how things might be different for she
and Bob if she could shift her expectations and begin to
focus more on creating the connection that she would like to
have in her
If your expectations are not a match for the kind of
marriage you want, then consider opening up to different
ways of looking at your life and relationship.
This might feel overwhelming. If so, start with a belief or
expectation you have that seems smaller and less intense.
Kristi chooses to make changes in her expectations about how
she and Bob communicate.
When a disagreement arises, Kristi
and Bob often both become defensive and the whole issue gets
blown out of proportion.
Kristi's stomach tightens when she knows they have to talk
about a tricky topic because she
anticipates that it will end up causing more disconnection
and discord for them.
But now Kristi has decided to change her expectation. She
creates in her mind a different vision of she and Bob
communicating-- even about difficult issues.
Kristi begins to breathe deeply and see this preferable
expectation actually occurring. She tunes in to how much
more relaxed she is and how she and Bob are both happier.
You and your spouse can make shifting your expectations a
After you've each recognized your
expectations and affirmed the kind of relationship you want,
choose one to focus in on together and make an improvement.
Stay open to possibilities even when you've never noticed
them in the past. This new sense of openness and clear
vision for what you want can help move you and your mate