Tag Archives: Expectations

Expectations, Marriage (and the New WOW)

Duane and I celebrated our 14th anniversary this past week and it was a perfect time to consider expectations…or the lack thereof.

See, when I met this dimpled, Italian man, I didn’t know WHAT to expect.

One thing was undeniable:  My world was rocked.  He gave me heart palpitations and goosebumps.  I found myself singing Carpenters songs with gusto and living for the next phone call or e-mail.

Actually, at first, I truly expected him to be a flash in the pan; just another of the many guys who’d take my number and never call.  Friends, who had not seen a man have this effect on me in years also tried to reign in my expectations; after all, they didn’t want their friend to get hurt.

When you’re 38 and haven’t been on a real date in years, YOU don’t want to get hurt again. You resist getting  your hopes up, only to have them dashed again.  Yet the feelings were so intoxicating…I couldn’t protect myself from them.

Swept up in emotion, I made a decision to risk being hurt…because the thought of NOT loving him was more painful.

Duane exceeded my expectations. He was in it for the long haul (see my recent video on INTENTION) and no matter what I asked of him, he jumped through every hoop (and there were MANY of them) to seal the deal and put a ring on it.

The next chapter, however, is where the rubber met the road: Marriage.

Because of the whirlwind of our courtship, I never stopped to consider my expectations when it came to marriage.

I mean, wouldn’t it just be more of the same?  Romantic, long talks on the patio; flowers “just because” and handyman tasks miraculously handled by my own, personal Magnum PI…

Yep, cue the rude awakening.

Not to say there haven’t been some very sweet and romantic times…but, as my friends ALSO tried to tell me, it’s mostly about negotiating a pleasant balance between laundry, bills, professional obligations, social calendars, broken dishes (I’m a bit clutzy) AND reruns of Hogans Heroes (Duane’s favorite show.)

Some of our biggest fights have been because I imposed upon him my EXPECTATIONS of what he (i.e., the perfect husband) should be.  Meanwhile, I sometimes forget that I am in NO way the model of the traditional wife.

I do not cook.  And I’d rather pay other people to do tasks that bore me, including detail cleaning, mending and ironing.

Oh, plus I stink at all of the above.

Yet Duane has never complained about how I fall short in these areas (at least, to my face!) Perhaps his restraint in this regard has shown up in OTHER ways.  Exhibit #1:  Notice his hair color in this photo on our wedding day:

And after fourteen years of swallowing judgment:

85% gray.  (But he still looks happy, right?)

Getting back to expectations, no one wants to be required to live up to an unattainable standard and then be judged and found lacking.

It’s not a recipe for a happy marriage.

However, standards of mutual respect, honoring individual preferences, healthy amounts of compromise and good doses of unselfishness SHOULD be expected.

Lowering our expectations in these areas reduces our marriage to “less than.” It ensures that we don’t fulfill our potential as a couple. It says, “I give up” on believing the best for us.

Thus, we fight.  And this was NOT something I expected in marriage.  

I had lived with roommates for all of my adult life and can only remember one real argument!  Certainly we, as a loving, married couple, could rationally discuss matters and achieve mutual understanding?

HA!  When hormones and tempers are flared, we Viola’s can get LOUD.  This may not be the norm for 95% of couples out there, but it’s the case here on Ridge Road in Sarasota.

Admittedly, the intense arguments of our early married years are now much fewer and far between.  Why?  Because we understand each others’ expectations much more than we used to.  Now I KNOW what drives him crazy, and I try to avoid it at all costs.

He knows the same about me.

Sometimes there are unknown alligators in the water that crop up and make for less than smooth sailing.

But there’s one thing we both expect:  We’re staying in the boat.  Neither of us is jumping ship. Oh, there are times when we both WANT to, but we wait until that wave passes…which it always does…and set sail again for another year of equal parts marital angst and bliss.

If I had any gem of wisdom to offer to those of you embarking on this journey called marriage, it would be this: COMMUNICATE your expectations.

You can’t get mad at someone for something you never said mattered to you.

Meanwhile, we’re heading into a new week.  So here’s what our new word is!:

I’m going to emphasize NOT complicating things this week by over-thinking.

How will YOU simplify?

xoxoxoxox

Love,
Brenda

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Pity Parties (and the New WOW)

Someone once said that having a pity party was like crying on the devil’s shoulder.

ICK.

That’s a visual image that always stopped me in my tracks.  However, pithy sayings aren’t enough when a full-blown expression of WOE IS ME wells up and wants to win my day.

How inconvenient that our Word of the Week was DELIGHT!  I received further insight into why that word in the Greek means “pliable.”

If you’re not flexible, you can’t find delight in ANYTHING.  

In both my professional and personal lives, I like to write out scripts.  For my wedding reception, I had every speech and song plugged into a spreadsheet timed to the minute. (Control freak much?) Never a fan of “winging it” I write out presentations word for word and practice them until they sound extemporaneous.

My mantra (said first by Ben Franklin): If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

But what about my best laid plans blow up all around me????  (Or you?)

WAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

I had splurged for what I thought was going to be an amazing Christmas gift for my four most favorite people in the world.  Before hitting the purchase button, I checked with both parties to make sure the event date worked for them.  I had such a vision of an evening filled with friendship and laughter!  Nothing delights me more than a well-chosen present! Yippee!

Without going into the complete details, life had other plans.

For one of the couples it involved triple-bypass surgery. (!)  For the other, a nasty, ill-timed virus rendering her bedridden for a week.

Now I KNOW that everyone’s health is way more important than my planned outing.  I really know this.  I knew this so well that in the days leading up to said failed event, I didn’t even acknowledge that I was disappointed.

Until, out of the blue, I burst into tears. Full blown pity party ensued.

It was quite a juicy sob. And then, I felt remarkably better!

Just knowing how you SHOULD feel doesn’t mean you feel that way.  And, as my friend Roseann is famous for saying:  Your feelings aren’t right or wrong; they’re just the way you feel.

Suppressing my disappointment – and failing to acknowledge it – only made me irritable and cranky in all the other areas of my life.  When I finally admitted to myself that I was disappointed, I could LET GO and even be glad that those tickets were going to be enjoyed by other people.  My inability to shake MY idea of how things were going to happen kept me unable to just let life FLOW.

We’ve all got boiling water in our lives.  It’s how we RESPOND to it that makes or breaks us.

The lessen hear for me wasn’t to have the perfect response, but to allow myself to be HONEST about what I was feeling, ’cause until that happened I wasn’t getting ANY release.

Nothing changed.  But how I FELT about it changed.

Here are my closing thoughts on DELIGHT (and softness) – and the New WOW:

And thankfully, my sisters and brothers are all on the mend!

Here’s to holding close those who hold that special place in our heart this week.

xoxoxoxo

Brenda

 

 

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A Resolve to be Happy (and the New WOW)

Some people hate the whole resolution ritual. To me, it’s a tradition that sort of forces me to establish my priorities for the year and resolve to take steps in support of them.

Hmmmm…that sounded a bit too much like a corporate memo.

Take two:  I think about the stuff I want to happen and dream about what I can do to make them burst forth into reality!

I really wish I had learned this earlier in life.

My approach through my teens, twenties, thirties and most of my forties was to “wish, want, hope, pine, yearn” with feeble faith that I could impact any outcomes.

Something clicked in recent years. I was acting like a tennis ball, being directed by forces beyond my control instead of being the tennis racket and directing my life in the way I wanted it to go.

This does not preclude my dependence on God, the Holy Spirit or Jesus. But I do feel that the heavenly host has been sitting in the bleachers all these years saying, “Will you finally take a swing? We can’t do it ALL for you!!!”

Well, when you put it THAT way, Jesus…

We’ve got the equipment. We were BORN with it.  Our gifts, our talents, our special sauce – it’s all there, waiting to be whipped up into a unique and remarkable treat for the world -and us – to enjoy.  But too often we spend time focusing on what we DON’T have when it’s actually irrelevant.

If we don’t have it, we don’t need it to fulfill our calling.  We are completely equipped for our purpose in life.  And if you read this and start to protest, ask yourself, “Why am I fighting?”

So you’re flawed.  Join the crowd.  So you think your flaws or ailments disqualify you from certain joys in life?  Only your faith in that faulty line of thinking keeps you there.

My resolve every year is to be happy.  And I am.  Annoyingly so!  (Except to those who also are fans of happiness.)

Some people are as devoted to being miserable as I am to being happy.

Every ache or pain or bend in the road is a license to complain or make excuses or blame someone for their station in life.

Seriously, how’s that working for you?

No, I do not live a perfect life. I’ve had my share of broken hearts, physical challenges, disappointments and paralizing fears.  I choose, however, at this later stage in my game – with time fleeting and tomorrows not promised – to see the disappointments as a detour because something better is coming my way.  I acknowledge my fears and then do the work to get back to love because I don’t to waste one moment of this beautiful life living like a deer in the headlights.  I have a weird bump on my leg that needs to be biopsied next week and I am positive that it is either nothing, or if it is something, I’m going to beat it.

Can you tell I’m fired up this week?

I put some of that energy into this week’s message:

Isn’t that sweet?  What a lovely way to start 2017!

Be gentle with yourself first, my friends. It makes it a heckuva lot easier to then be gentle with others.

Hello, 2017.  I welcome you with open arms, an open heart, and a full expectation that you will be my best year ever.

And I wish that for all of you, too.

xoxoxoxo

Brenda

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Keep Swimming (and the New WOW)

So with theaters packed with people seeing Finding Dory, I can’t wait to get my ticket. Dory exemplifies resilience, our recent Word of the Week, with her “Just keep swimming…” philosophy.

I reflected a bit this week on when my tank of resilience wanes and there’s a clear connection.

One of my favorite scriptures (Ps. 77:3) provides the insight:  Complaining overwhelms your spirit.

Your body and soul may give up, but your spirit has indomitable resources. The catch is NOT to overwhelm your spirit with complaining and to let that unsinkable cork inside of you WIN.

There’s a catch that sometimes snags me, though.  In the effort NOT to overwhelm my spirit, I sometimes choose to not “talk it out” (whatever IT is) with someone else, somewhat afraid that negative energy will be expended and sprinkle its evil pixie dust, making matters worse.

Then I realized that talking something through with the end goal to glean insights from an impartial party that might actually bring relief, resolve or at least COMFORT is a good thing.

If my intent is simply to whine, murmur, have a pity party and otherwise indulge the negative vibes that seek to swallow me into a quagmire of muck, then no – it’s best for me to shut my trap.

Perhaps Dory’s short term memory loss aids her ability to just KEEP SWIMMING.  

She can’t obsess over that thoughtless comment or perceived slight.  May all of our offenses have short-term memory!

Final thoughts on resilience and the new WOW coming right up…

There are SO many ways to look at this new WOW.

Aside from being WILLING personally, how do you view the world?

Here’s a nugget to chew on this week (I know I’m going to): What if you believed that at ever turn, things were actually working to benefit you; that God (the Universe; however you choose to define the Source) is WILLING to more than grant your desires.

One of the companies for which I work has a credo to “delight our customers and exceed their expectations.”

If a business can make that claim and fulfill it, how much more can the Author of life and the very Essence that is love make good on that brand promise?

Instead of expecting a fight (based on past experiences in the school of hard knocks) what if you made the shift to seeing every person and every circumstance as a willing participant in your happily-ever-after?

I’m willing to meditate on that this week.  How about you?

xoxoxox

Brenda

 

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