Great Expectations

Family Time

From what little I know of Buddhist and Hindu and other yogic-type meditative philosophies, is that expectations are what get us into trouble. We get disappointed and feel hurt and upset unnecessarily, rather than the simplicity of just experiencing what is, rather than wishing something was different.

The topic of expectations came up in my mind this morning after I dropped Potamus off with grandma. She was talking about my night and I was complaining about Boof’s long work schedule and his attendance at a soccer match, leaving me home alone to deal with Potamus and Scrummy by myself. In my complaint was this underlying expectation that my husband should be home at a reasonable hour (like 5, instead of 8…or 10 because of the Sounder’s game), and help me out with the boy-child.


As I was leaving, and beating myself up for once-again complaining to my mother-in-law about HER son, I had an imaginary argument with my father-in-law, because arguing with myself is just pointless. It went something like this:

“It’s not what I signed up for,”

“But Boof supports you, and lets you do things that you want to do, and it’s that whole sickness & health part of your vows”-FIL

“Yes, but it’s not what I signed up for. Yeah yeah, sickness and health. But when we met he was in school to be a pastor. I was going to be a pastor’s wife. And then he got a job as a teacher. I was a teacher’s wife. We went into the decision to have a kid based on the fact that he was a teacher. And then, when he resigned quietly after a false accusation about ‘inappropriate texting’ with his student (who, sidenote, he had permission from her mom to text about schoolwork and no inapprorpiate texts were actually found), I supported him through that, and HE got to stay at home and I haven’t liked having to borrow money from you all, and now I’m an accountant’s wife and it’s tax season and it’s NOT WHAT I SIGNED UP FOR!”

My imaginary argument with FIL ends about there, and I am driving and listening to the radio and feeling sorry for myself and annoyed that I keep whining. I don’t understand why I can’t be like my military wife friends, or my stay-at-home mommy friends who bear the burden of childraising all by themselves during the day¬† and night because their husbands are working/too-exhausted-at-the-end-of-the-day.

Sure I’ve gotten into a better rhythm with things, but I get annoyed that Boof comes to bed at 12:30 after watching hours of television, but forgot to get yogurt for Potamus’ breakfast and I have to go to the store so he’ll have food at daycare. When we were dating and we took a pre-marital questionaire for our pre-marital counseling, one of the things that we talked about was egalitarian parenting and relationship, since I had been accustomed to this idea that women should willingly raise children without a complaint. But he informed me otherwise of his beliefs, and I let myself believe in egalitarian relationships, and it felt good. But now it feels like I am in charge of both working hard, raising Potamus AND caring for the house and meal-planning. It’s a lot more than I signed up for and I’m struggling with that. I know that it will straighten out after tax season is over, but I’m not looking forward to every year being like this…especially since we’re thinking of possible expanding the family…

How do YOU deal with unmet or disappointed expectations?


  1. I once attended a marriage workshop where the speaker talked about expectations in marriage. He said to have no expectations in marriage or of your partner (except commitment to the relationship in all respects and fidelity). I thought that was such a freeing approach, because we tend to expect so much from our partners. I guess that’s not to say that we shouldn’t talk about issues in our relationships and strive to maintain openness and so forth, but my initial reaction was, wow, I like the idea of my partner not placing expectations on me that make me crazy and vice versa.

    • Yeah, I really love the idea of not having expectations, I think it would help me out so much…but did that workshop talk about what happens when you DO have expectations? Like how to get rid of them? Most of the time I don’t even realize I had expectations until I am already upset and then take a moment to self-reflect on what the hidden expectation was that I had.

      • I totally hear you. Much easier said than done. I think it takes time to retrain how we think and act, but there’s also a lot of negotiation in marriage. I think as women we experience role overload because we’re moms, wives, homemakers, workers, etc. It’s just too much sometimes, especially when your kids are young and dependent on you. I feel it frequently, and somedays it’s just overwhelming! Maybe try talking to your other half and see if there are areas you can negotiate so you aren’t feeling as burdened. I hope things get better soon! You’re not alone in your feelings.

      • Yeah, Boof tells me that it’s because I’m a mom, and that he’s sad he can’t do anything really to make it go away, but that bond is there and really colors my view on everything else.

        I wish I knew how to get rid of the expectations…at least I guess knowing them, and verbalizing them is a first step…when I don’t even know that I have them, that’s when the trouble comes because I get angry for ‘seemingly’ no reason!

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