woman at the beach with a hat

Why Bother With Realistic Expectations?

It is difficult for me to admit to the many unrealistic expectations I’ve had of myself and of others over the course of my lifetime, so I won’t list them here. Suffice to say that some of the things I thought about myself and about others as practical, possible, or probable were in fact impractical, impossible and unreasonable. 

That Which Leads to Peace

Tell me where your expectations originate from and I can tell you if they are probable or improbable. 

Where do we get our conception of how things ought to be? When we set a standard for ourselves or for someone else, understanding where the root of our precept originates from tells whether it is realistic or unrealistic. 

I will always be indebted to my husband who withstood the unreasonable expectations I brought along with me into our marriage. My illogical ideologies originated from the combined mixture of what I observed in my parent’s marriage, what I accrued through the culture as well as fairy tales such as Cinderella. 

Unbeknownst to me, my ideologies did not seem unreasonable at the time. On the contrary, from my perspective they seemed logical. Then, I ran into a dilemma. My ideologies did not work in my marriage and they became a problem.

 Because my father had ended his own life, I surmised that I needed the guarantee that my husband would never foul up my life as my father had. This equated to the message, “Dear husband, don’t ever disappoint me.” A standard that no human being can accomplish. 

The second theory I drug along with me into marriage originated from the women’s rights culture; marriage is a 50-50 deal. We both invest 50% of ourselves into the marriage leaving the other 50% for ourselves. Neither did this work when my husband freely gave 100% of himself, but I was too fearful to do so.

Finally, there was the Cinderella fantasy; you will understand what I need rescuing from and rescue me so that we can live happily ever after. But, my husband understood that as much as he loved me, I was the one who needed to come to terms with my past. 

 Truly, my theories about a marriage relationship were a mixed bag. When I realized that my husband could not or would not fulfill what I’d hoped he’d fulfill, I had to ask myself the question; should I stay or should I go? 

I chose to stay and by staying, I learned to exchange my illogical expectations for logical much more logical ones. First, I realized that there are no guarantees in life. I married an imperfect human being, but so did he. Though we both aim to please each other, sometimes things happen that are out of our control. Such as the time he had an accident at work leading to a period of recuperation and unemployment and living on a shoestring budget for our family. 

Concerning the 50-50 deal on marriage, he showed me that it was actually 100%-100%. Either we are committed or not. He’d already upheld his end of the deal, now it was up to me to join him. 

Finally, there were the issues of my father’s suicide that left me covered with residue of distrust. As much as my husband loved me, I was the one who needed to believe he loved me, he could not do that for me. 

Why bother with realistic expectations? Having realistic expectations of ourselves and others brings a sense of relief and peace into any relationship. 


  1. Beth on May 27, 2024 at 7:53 pm

    Very poignant and moving. Loved having time with you this last week.

    • Terese Luikens on May 28, 2024 at 7:10 am

      Always good to hear from my readers!

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