Do you ever feel like you’re just :
Failing miserably at everything you’re supposed to do?
Letting your husband down and ruining your children?
Feel like you’re just not meeting up to the expectations?
But where do those expectations come from? Did you make them up yourself?
I remember one day, years ago, standing in my kitchen crying. Moldy dishes were piled high, clutter all over the living room, unfolded laundry, unwashed laundry piled all around the house… I felt like a mess. I felt like a failure.
I felt ashamed because I wasn’t pulling my weight at home. My husband was off working hard to provide and I couldn’t make it through the day. I felt like I was letting him down.
I quit work a year before under the agreement that it would save us money and make my husbands life easier: I’d cook dinners so he wouldn’t have to, we’d save on take out, I’d make his lunch and we’d have coffee from home in the mornings, and he’d always have a clean house at the end of the day…
I was doing 2/5 of these. Sending him to work with a hot coffee and a lunch, everything else was slipping.
I honestly believed I was failing so hard at being his wife because I couldn’t get the housework under control. I had a growing fear that this man who’d always been there for me, never broke my trust and valued our marriage over everything else in his life, was going to leave me for this.
I broke down my walls and had a hard conversation with him when he came home that night.
Well, I thought it would be a hard conversation….
I told him I was just trying to do too much. I felt like I’ll never be enough for him. No matter how much I try because I couldn’t get this done, I was breaking my promise to him. You know what he said?
“I don’t need a 3 course meal when I get home… I’m just hungry. It would be nice to have something ready, it doesn’t have to be anything fancy.”
I remember the way the gears started shifting in my head. He doesn’t need fancy.
I wasn’t struggling to get a frozen pizza in the oven, I was struggling trying to cook a home cooked meal when I still knew very little about cooking at that time.
He married a woman who incorrectly peeled carrots on one of their first dates, and I was under the false belief that he wanted a home cooked meal each night. No, he’s a man who works 10 hour days in construction, he’s just hungry and he doesn’t care what level of expertise the meal takes, he just needs some dang carbs and calories.
I was making EVERYTHING harder than it had to be. I was sorting laundry by color, I was using every pan to make dinner each night, I was putting value in the amount of things we had rather than the quality of them.
Not only that, I was struggling with perfectionism: if I wasn’t going to do it exactly perfectly and the most practical and time efficient way possible, I just wasn’t going to do it.
Are you starting to see my big problems? Are you starting to relate to them?
I thought I was failing in my marriage and not meeting my husband’s expectations, when really I was putting way too much pressure on myself and trying to do more than I was capable of at the time.
I had never asked what my husband’s expectations were. When I came up with the idea to quit my job and stay home, I was the one who signed up to do all these things, my husband didn’t need me to go above and beyond my own abilities: he knows who I am and what I can do. He didn’t need a perfect home, he needed a happy wife.
When I told him I was having a major break down working too many hours at a job he didn’t like me to have – because the hours sucked and we were never home at the same time and I had to work a lot of holidays and weekends and didn’t make nearly enough money – that was enough for him to agree that my paycheck wasn’t worth it.
The only expectations I wasn’t meeting were my own.
So what’s the solution to combating these unexpressed expectations?
- Speak up.
Communication is key, I know you’ve heard that a million times, but I mean it. I don’t even understand how anyone can have a healthy relationship without real, raw communication.
Here’s the simple fact of the matter: you can’t expect anything of anyone if you don’t communicate that. You also can’t let yourself believe that anyone expects something from you that they have not expressed to you.
In other words, if your husband has not told you he wants a specific meal for dinner, you can’t allow yourself to be expected to have that ready. Don’t wait around for him so say something, just ask. Ask him what he wants and to be perfectly clear, or don’t even try to get the order right. You’re not a mind reader and neither is he. Use your words.
- Stay open.
Just because you’ve expressed your expectations once, doesn’t mean you will be forever aware of them. People change, seasons change, our needs change. Good communication is constant communication.
It can become easy to believe we aren’t meeting others’ expectations when we don’t know exactly what those are, as they change, we must continue to acknowledge the change and make that new need clear to those around us. Always remain reception to receiving a loved one’s needs.
- Seek connection.
I know this post has turned into unsolicited marriage advice, but it’s bigger than that. When we seek to truly connect to those around us, we are unafraid to express our own expectations and we willingly accept the expectations of others. We can approach these with honesty and integrity, agreeing to only fulfill those expectations that we are comfortably capable of fulfilling.
Set boundaries, do what you can, make your own needs known.