I like to read a variety of things; a few years ago I was on a marriage book kick. I read lots of great ideas but only a few of the concepts really resonated and stuck with me. One book, that I can’t remember the name of, said that basically the root of all unhappiness is selfishness and unmet expectations. I had heard and understood the selfishness idea, not too hard to grasp that. The unmet expectations idea really got me thinking, though. For years I have kept thinking about it, applying it, testing out the theory, and trying to really wrap my mind around it.
When I first read the book I told Thomas about the unmet expectations concept, and I think it struck a chord with him too. We have brought the idea up at various times, in different situations that we have encountered. I have a happy marriage, but that happiness hasn’t just magically happened; it has been worked for. A conscious effort has been made to make our marriage a happy one.
I’ve been thinking about that theory a lot this week, and here are a few thoughts that I’ve had.
If you haven’t noticed, my life at the moment is a bit unconventional. I live in the back of a dumpy little house that won’t be so dumpy when we are through with it. The process, however exciting/hard/messy/cost savvy/interesting it may be at times, is just not what I expected. I was sure when we decided to do this that I would have a Christmas tree up in the new part of the house. At the end of October when I could see that wasn’t going to happen, I told myself that I would roll out sugar cookies for Valentine’s Day on my new island. My dad even flew out in the middle of January to help and we made huge headway. Valentine’s Day came and went and took my excitement and vision of the future with it. I was in a funk for a full two weeks. Finally I realized that if I prayed for patience, the Lord would be kind enough to bless me with that.
We’ve been so close to getting the other half of the house done for so long. We really only have to texture, paint, lay flooring, and install cabinets in the kitchen. Trim, doors, and other finish-type things can wait until we are using it. This is all we’ve had left to do since Dad left.
Patience isn’t the only thing that I need on this journey though. This week I realized that I needed to change my expectations.
After a long week (read: me feeling frustrated that things just aren’t happening) Thomas and I talked. He explained to me just how busy he was at work (65+ hours a week should have given me a clue…), he told me about a government deadline he has to meet with a $600 fine imposed for every day past the deadline he’s over. He also explained more to me about the test he has to take in a few weeks to become a licensed Professional Engineer. I didn’t realize that he should be studying day and night for it (and that it costs $300 to take!). Isn’t it great how a little perspective can change things?
Now, for the next few weeks, I’ll expect nothing to get done. If anything happens to get done along the way I’ll be pleasantly surprised. I’d rather have accurate expectations (even if they aren’t what I necessarily want) than expectations that will go unmet.
The more I think about it, the more that theory on unmet expectations is true; it’s important to have accurate ones if you want to be happy. It’s also important to verbalize what you think your expectations are to who you are expecting them from. Knowing where the other person is coming from really helps to create accurate expectations and tweak existing ones.
I didn’t expect to be using our new shower while the bathroom still looks like this:
And I certainly didn’t expect my first set of dishes done in a sink here to look like this:
BUT a new shower that no one has ever bathed in before (how many times can you say that!), is much better than this.
And a patch-job kitchen sink is better than none. (Check out where this sink and “cabinet” came from)
So, here’s to some more accurate expectations and a little more happiness along the way.
What do you think about that theory/expectations/being real vs. having a dream? I’d love to hear what you think. Happy Sunday, friends.