My husband and I are quickly approaching our seventh wedding anniversary, and soon our 14th year together. I am the last person to claim that I am savvy enough to give advice on marriage. Victor and I first ‘dated’ when we were barely 13 years old, back when dating meant exchanging letters in the hallway and holding hands between classes. Two years later, having matured into earnest, wise 15 year olds we started a relationship, and this time it lasted. Our road has not always been smooth, there have been ups and downs, casual criticisms that devolved into fissures in our relationships, missteps on both our parts, and of course the daily humdrum of family schedules that can leave you overlooking the very person you so anxiously wanted to build your life with. Most of our trials have been commonplace, some are exclusive to us, and the majority of the heartache we’ve caused each other has been solely our making. I wouldn’t change a thing though, we’ve educated one another, and there are a few patterns I’ve noticed in myself and others around me that I just have to bring up.
Expectations. My mother raised me with forewarning that expectations will only hurt you. Of course intellectually I understood this, but it has only been within the last year or so of my relationship I have fully tried to grasp on to this statement and put it into practice.
I am certain men have unrealistic expectations just like women do, but I’m not positive their expectations are so numerous, or wrapped into some grand scheme of how they envision their lives to be.
I cannot tell you how many female friends of mine, say things along the lines of, “I’ve always envisioned my marriage this way since I was a child, and I don’t understand why he is being so distant.” I’ve always wanted to respond, “Well, you only met Tom when you were 24, so I suppose you are trying to jam him into the mold of a marriage you’d projected since you were a little girl.” Yet, I don’t because I also had apparitions of some spectral romance.
As a teenager, these dreamy ideations manifested in expecting my husband to be as superfluous and flowing with his words as I was. I expected tit for tat, and it made me miserable. I frequently roamed my high school hallways complaining to my best friend about how I wasn’t sure why Victor was so distant. He wasn’t distant though, he just wasn’t me. He shows his affection and love in different ways, back then he would pick me up after school – even though he went to a different high school. He would drive 20 minutes out of his way just to see me for a few minutes, but since he didn’t arrive spouting poetry I was too young to see it.
I’ve seen numerous relationships fall apart because one partner already has the framework of whom their significant other is, and what duties they are to fulfill – sometimes long before they even meet. If this was done as routinely to women as we do it to men, we would be calling foul. We’d lambast men for thinking we had to fit into their outline of what a woman is. As I’ve said, I’m sure men do this – but I’ve yet to meet a man who creates the elaborate backstory for his future wife that women do for their husbands.
Perhaps if we all took a breath and saw each other for who they really are, and not who we project due to our own needs, our history, or our insecurities, it would make for a more honest, multifaceted relationship. It’s the old adage that you can’t change a person. Too often, people marry great expectations and not the individual.