Unspoken Expectations - The Toxic Force in Our Relationships

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The last couple of weekends I’ve been solo-parenting and I’ve had a surprising experience that got me questioning my marriage……….until I discovered something.

While my husband was away living his childhood dream of becoming a racing driver I noticed that it was really easy to be solo-parenting.  I mean *really* easy – the weekends went more smoothly and effortlessly. Which was kind of unexpected and it surprised me! So it got me questioning things.  

How on earth could it be easier when I’m flying solo?  Why is it simpler for me to navigate this parenting stuff with him not around?  Is our marriage that terrible that it’s easier without him?

You can see where this line of questioning was leading me, and it wasn’t helpful!

Luckily I’ve been reading a book by Brene Brown* called Rising Strong.  In it, Brene shares how she and her husband had a similar experience. That they were falling into a pattern of resentment after a weekend trying to jointly juggle their family’s hectic weekend schedule of football practice – birthday party – sleepover – homework – swimming lessons along with their own personal plans.  

Can you relate?  I know I absolutely could.

It wasn’t until Brene and her husband started to really explore this dynamic that they discovered the dangerous force behind it, and it was the same dangerous force that I was experiencing too! And it’s all about stealth expectations.

Stealth Expectations

You see when my husband was away, I had no expectations.  I let go of expecting any time to myself. I let go of my to-do-list.  I let go of the need to get stuff done. I just surrendered into the uninterrupted time with my children and it was amazing. Not because my husband wasn’t there but because it’s rare for me to let go of my expectations.  And boy does that feel good.

But when my husband and I are both home we set all kinds of expectations about getting stuff done, but most of the time we don’t tell each other about them. We don’t make them explicit. That’s why they’re called stealth expectations.  They’re often undetectable because they’re unspoken. The only sign of stealth expectations are the bubbling resentment and disappointment that’s their by-product.

Unexplored resentment and disappointment is toxic.   It’s like tiny paper cuts that overtime start to damage the fabric of our relationships.

So this new insight is helping me see where I might have stealth expectations of people in my life.  And I thought I’d share it with you too. Do you have stealth expectations of people in your life? It could be with your partner, your family, your friends, your boss, your colleagues?  By becoming aware of these stealth expectations we can either start to communicate them more openly and work out if they’re achievable.  Or discover that we need to reality-check them as they’re unreasonable and not supporting us in creating healthy relationships.

Either way this can lead to stronger and deeper relationships and connections. So thanks Brene!

As always I’d love to hear from you. Can you relate to stealth expectations in your relationships? Does this insight help?

*If you’ve not discovered Brene Brown and her work I would *highly recommend* checking her out.  Perhaps starting with her netflix special

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