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What are YOUR expectations?

Posted by on Feb. 12, 2012 at 12:29 AM
  • 13 Replies

For those of you who absolutely love to debate - what are your thoughts on this article?

Unmet expectations can be our greatest source of disappointment.

Moms, did you expect your ex-husband’s new wife to take a back seat in the co-parenting car?

Did you expect your kids to miss and need you when they went to your ex’s house, only to find out they had a great time and even…gulp…liked the new girlfriend?

Stepmoms, when you married your husband, did you expect your stepkids to like you or his ex to embrace your existence? How’d that work out for you?

Whether you’re aware of it or not, you enter every situation with an expectation of a specific outcome.

From a simple text message exchange, to what your marriage, or life after divorce, will look like.

You’re filled with expectations.

But what happens when the outcome doesn’t turn out the way you expected?

Major disappointment sets in. Often followed by anger, frustration, blame and resentment.

A flurry of negative emotions surface,  and you lash out at the nearest warm body.

Unmet expectations can be more than difficult. Sometimes you had planned future events around that expectation. Like when you expected the other household to allow the kids to go on vacation with you, only to find out they didn’t feel like cooperating this time.

These kind of upsets can ruin a night – or a whole vacation.

In the worst of cases, they can ruin long stretches of one’s life, if that person chooses to allow it.

Sometimes you’re so used to having expectations that you don’t even notice it.

For example, how often do you use the word “should”?

She should say this or she should act like that. He shouldn’t have done this, he should feel like that.

That’s right, that little word can get you into BIG trouble.

Why?

Because it’s an expectation you’re having about another person’s behavior; something WAY out of your control. You might as well just skip the interaction and go straight to thedisappointment.

So what do we do about this? It’s natural to expect others to act like we do. We expect them to live up to our standards and have similar values. And when they don’t, we’re shocked and appalled and disappointed and hurt.

What’s common sense and basic courtesy to us, (making eye contact, saying “thank you,” taking responsibility for our own actions), may be seen as unnecessary by someone else.

They may even feel justified in not reciprocating manners or respect.

In their reality, they don’t owe us anything.

But we assume our interpretaton of what should happen is absolute reality, and if someone goes against it, they’re doing it deliberately.

And that’s not necessarily the case. But our perception has just created a huge mess. Hurt feelings included.

I’d love to tell you to have no expectations – to let life happen as it will and be open to whatever outcome shall occur.

Ideally, that’s the way to live, right? But unless your name is Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra or Buddha, it ain’t happenin’.

But you CAN keep your expectations in check. You can make a conscious effort to enter a situation with an open mind. You can welcome the unknown instead of running from it.

You can remind yourself that you don’t need to control the outcome.

Because outside circumstances don’t determine your happiness. YOU do.

Different circumstances call for different actions. Sometimes you’ll want to adjust your expectation. Other times you’ll want to throw it out the window. And then there are times when you just need to communicate it.

If the other woman hasn’t treated you with respect in years, maybe it’s time to throw that expectation out the window.

It doesn’t mean you give up hope, but it means you stop expecting her to be different at every interaction. And maybe it’s time to set a boundary and STOP interacting with her altogether, until her behavior changes.

You do have options here.

Stepmoms, have you ever spoken to your husband about his expectations of you and your role as stepmom? If not, I suggest you do.

Their expectations could be completely different than your expectations. But you can’t come to an understanding if you don’t know what the other person is expecting. And how wonderful would it be to be on the same page?

Moms, have you ever had even the simplest of  conversations with the stepmom clarifying your expectations about one shared responsibility? Most of us avoid these conversations because they’re so uncomfortable.

Where are you with your expectations?

I challenge you to keep a running a tab over the next day or so of every expectation you find yourself having. Pay attention to the “shoulds,” what the outcome is and what your reaction is.

Then practice detaching from outcomes. Practice being open to what is.

Practice being responsible for your own happiness instead of putting it in someone else’s hands. And let us know what you find.

by on Feb. 12, 2012 at 12:29 AM
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Replies (1-10):
jenessamarie
by on Feb. 12, 2012 at 12:51 AM
1 mom liked this
I love this and agree totally.
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paladinmom
by on Feb. 12, 2012 at 1:14 AM

I'll start!  (Oh look, I'm quoting myself - creepy! lol)

Quoting paladinmom:

Stepmoms, when you married your husband, did you expect your stepkids to like you or his ex to embrace your existence? With his kids... I had watched them for awhile before we started a relationship, so, I had begun to build trust with them.  It took several months to build a solid trust with them.  With BM, I knew I needed to be careful.  I have broken my promise to myself and said too much at times over the years... I didn't expect her to be happy that he was moving into a serious relationship. How’d that work out for you?  With SKs, great!  Taking the relationship with them slow at first, I was able to build trust with them first and foremost.  It was about showing a nurturing manner (which they needed to see) while caring for my BKs first.  Once they realized that I was a good Mommy to my kids, they started trusting more and coming to me more and more often for their needs.  My SKs were 2 1/2 and under when DH and I met.  With BM... I didn't communicate with her for about a year.  Then for two almost two and a half years, I communicated with her primarily.  Her request.  When she was actually all about seeing the kids, we worked well together.  Then, it stopped and she wanted to communicate with DH.  He's done alright.  He has his good times and bad times and has learned a lot (through me) on being positive while trying.

But what happens when the outcome doesn’t turn out the way you expected?  I would say when it comes to BM, we tread carefully and make sure to have back-up plans in place.  When something unexpected comes our way, we take it one step at a time.

Major disappointment sets in. Often followed by anger, frustration, blame and resentment.  Personally, I might be frustrated, but rarely angry, place blame or resentful of the disappointment that has occurred.  

What’s common sense and basic courtesy to us, (making eye contact, saying “thank you,” taking responsibility for our own actions), may be seen as unnecessary by someone else.

They may even feel justified in not reciprocating manners or respect.

In their reality, they don’t owe us anything.  To be honest, I think she owes DH a big thank you for making sure the children are healthy, educated, physically fit, adequately provided for.... but, that is MHO...

Different circumstances call for different actions.  This is true! Sometimes you’ll want to adjust your expectation. Other times you’ll want to throw it out the window. And then there are times when you just need to communicate it.

If the other woman hasn’t treated you with respect in years, maybe it’s time to throw that expectation out the window.  I have thrown this expectation out the window a few years ago!  I treat her with respect and even show that respect to my SKs.  I can tell you that I see a difference here lately.  They have said some horrid things in the past (when BM is not so involved) and through showing that bit of respect and BM staying consistent for the longest period of time, it is helping out a lot that they see respect towards her!  =) 

It doesn’t mean you give up hope, but it means you stop expecting her to be different at every interaction. And maybe it’s time to set a boundary and STOP interacting with her altogether, until her behavior changes.  For the newer SMs and members... if you have a person in this group or on CM tell you to stop interacting with the BM or SM in your lives, I just have to say, we're not the only people in this world who suggest this! 

Stepmoms, have you ever spoken to your husband about his expectations of you and your role as stepmom? If not, I suggest you do.  Yes.  This happened 7 years ago!

Their expectations could be completely different than your expectations. But you can’t come to an understanding if you don’t know what the other person is expecting. And how wonderful would it be to be on the same page?  I can honestly say that those who post about co-parenting relationships being positive and on the same page - I'm jealous.  I'm still not sure what I did wrong in the past, and I'm not trying to figure it out anymore either.  I just wish that for the sake of the children, a casual exchange of information conversation could happen civilly.  It teaches them that although adults don't like each other, its okay to make an effort to get a long.

Moms, have you ever had even the simplest of  conversations with the stepmom clarifying your expectations about one shared responsibility? Most of us avoid these conversations because they’re so uncomfortable.  As a BM, the only thing I have to say is that IF there were a SM, I would hope that we could have a positive outlook of one another and a mutual agreement concerning my children.

“I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship.” -Louisa May Alcott

paladinmom
by on Feb. 12, 2012 at 1:15 AM

Glad you like it!  I was trying to say what I wanted to and took longer than I expected bc YDD woke up from a dream... She's sleeping peacefully now...

Quoting jenessamarie:

I love this and agree totally.


“I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship.” -Louisa May Alcott

packermomof2
by on Feb. 12, 2012 at 1:37 AM

Expectations lead to disappointment.  If you have no expectations they can't not be lived up to and you can't get upset when someone fails to live up to them. Therefore... pointless.

paladinmom
by on Feb. 12, 2012 at 1:48 AM

For the most part, and, I'm sure I didn't come out and say it when I quoted the article and responded... I don't hold expectations of the OPs anymore.  They are going to do what they want when they want.  (This goes for BDs primarily.)  I guess I posted all about SKs and BM because that is what it was asking about.  I don't have any SMs to deal with (that I know of) since BDs aren't around.  

If you don't expect anything, then you don't get disappointed at all - or you get surprised... either or, it's a bit better than the disappointment and frustrations!

Quoting packermomof2:

Expectations lead to disappointment.  If you have no expectations they can't not be lived up to and you can't get upset when someone fails to live up to them. Therefore... pointless.


“I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship.” -Louisa May Alcott

packermomof2
by on Feb. 12, 2012 at 1:55 AM


Quoting paladinmom:

For the most part, and, I'm sure I didn't come out and say it when I quoted the article and responded... I don't hold expectations of the OPs anymore.  They are going to do what they want when they want.  (This goes for BDs primarily.)  I guess I posted all about SKs and BM because that is what it was asking about.  I don't have any SMs to deal with (that I know of) since BDs aren't around.  

If you don't expect anything, then you don't get disappointed at all - or you get surprised... either or, it's a bit better than the disappointment and frustrations!

I have expectations of 3 people... myself, the girl child, and the boy child.  I don't even expect the husband to do much.  He pays his bills and he helps around the house all on his own.  I have no expectations of my ex cause he probably can't even spell the word, much less live up to them due to not know what the word expectation means.  My kids SM?  The only expectation was do no harm.  Even that was too hard for her to live up to.

I don't know if she had expectations for me.  I don't care if she did.  I probably didn't live up to them either...but it wasn't her place to have them for me.  I don't believe it was her place to have them for the kids either outside of them being respectful.  I think you can have them for very few people in this world...

leegirl_jm
by Ruby Member on Feb. 12, 2012 at 7:27 AM
I agree, I think people should keep expectations realistic. DH and I had one year of premarital counselling and expectations were a big topic as compatibility on those indicates a better marriage situation for us.

My expectations were for our family, SS was peripheral and had no expectations concerning him. BM wasn't an issue, she isn't a part of our marriage.
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jessiesluv
by on Feb. 12, 2012 at 8:29 AM

 This is an awesome post!!! Love it.

Sad thing is, I expected the SM to get a little slack from it, which I see my expectation was lived up to. lol

Still love the post!

 

lilangilyn
by on Feb. 12, 2012 at 9:30 AM

Unrealistic expectations in general are the biggest problems that all marriages face. Throw in the Brady Bunch and Eight is Enough and you have so much stuff to live up to that it becomes very difficult.

But what is an unrealistic expectation? I think a realistic expectation would be to be treated with some small amount of respect by the BM just because that is good manners. But when that doesn't happen, it really doesn't fall into this.

leegirl_jm
by Ruby Member on Feb. 12, 2012 at 10:18 AM

BM isn't a party to your marriage, I don't think expectations should be placed on her by you. It would be a nice to have but it shouldn't be an expectation. 

Quoting lilangilyn:

But what is an unrealistic expectation? I think a realistic expectation would be to be treated with some small amount of respect by the BM just because that is good manners. But when that doesn't happen, it really doesn't fall into this.







Married to DH and Mom to our darling daughter and son.

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