About Me

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Delta, British Columbia, Canada
I took very early retirement from teaching in '06 and did some traveling in Europe and the UK before settling down to do some private tutoring. As a voracious reader, I have many books waiting in line for me to read. Tell me I shouldn't read something, and I will. I'm a happy, optimistic person and I love to travel and through that believe that life can be a continuous learning experience. I'm looking forward to traveling more some day. I enjoy walking, cycling, water aerobics & and sports like tennis, volleyball, and fastpitch/baseball. I'm just getting into photography as a hobby and I'm enjoying learning all the bits and bobs of my digital camera. My family is everything to me and I'm delighted to be the mother of two girls and the Gramma of a boy and a girl. I may be a Gramma, but I'm at heart just a girl who wants to have fun.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

ABC Wednesday - E is for Expectations

Thanks to David over at authorblog for considering this worthy of POTD.

Today, E is for Expectations.

This is going to be more of a rambling essay today, I think, because the topic has been on my mind for a while. When I was married 36 years ago, expectations of husbands and wives were quite different from today. First of all, we were 36 years younger, just starting our careers, were healthy for the most part, and expected to have children. But if you are of the vintage that recalls life in those days, we weren't that far away from the idea that husband goes out to bring home the bacon and wife stays home with the kids and cooks said bacon. Oh sure, the expectation then was that girls have some type of vocation on which they could fall back if something were to - heaven forbid - "happen" to their men. An enriching career like nursing, teaching, or secretarial work were the suitable choices.

I think our expectations of married life get absorbed throughout our childhood experiences of watching our parents, other adults, TV, movies, books, and church affiliation. Thirty-odd years ago, we tumbled into marriage expecting a fantasy happily-ever-after-love. Thirty-odd years older and thirty-odd years wiser, I know that that happily-ever-after-love is a very fragile thing.

But when the relationship deepens and needs aren't met (and that can be from either side), arguments can develop to threaten the very foundation of that love. When you're young, new expectations can develop at various turning points in marriage, such as when buying your first home, planting your first garden together, become parents, dealing with major illness, or entering the empty-nest stage. So it's important to build skills to help uncover what's really on your mind at any stage in your relationship.

However, at this stage of our lives with, hopefully, a third of it left to live, it can be challenging to figure out exactly what the expectations are of each other. With no young children or in-laws to deal with, our working lives all but over, and carrying some minor health issues, what is life to be like together? Melding the lives of two people who have been entirely independent for a total of over 40 years is exacting to say the least. It's not just two sets of furniture and personal belongings, but rather the cumulation of years of doing what we want, when we want, with whom we want, and how we want. It's also figuring out how we each think about things now and how we approach challenges and difficulties along with the joy and happiness of everyday life.

Letting go of some of what we used to do for ourselves is one of the most difficult things to experience. As a former teacher, I was trained to explain everything, and I have done so with my children and hundreds of other children and adults since I was very young. Also, as a young single mother I had to be the head of the household and deal with all things legal, financial, medical, educational, etc. etc. We've both been learning very hard lessons lately. We're trying very hard to find the right balance between being there for each other, yet allowing the other some space. We're also trying very hard to allow each other into our personal space while retaining a semblance of independence and freedom.

Something that has actually surprised me and gives me comfort is the fact that we communicate very well most of the time. We talk. We listen to each other. A lot. But even so, there are times when we miscommunicate. He says it's because men live most of their lives in the garage and have to wiggle their way through a long, tight tunnel to get to the living room where they have to take time to readjust to their environment. But women are able to straddle that tunnel and be in both places at the same time. Kind of an interesting analogy. So I wait, sometimes impatiently, while he winds his way into that space where we can communicate our expectations of each other.

Expectations need to be realistic yet recognized as deep needs, and each partner should attempt to meet at least some of them. When some of our expectations aren't met it's easy to get angry or sulk. However, acceptance of your mate despite imperfections is necessary for a happy, healthy relationship. If suddenly you're disappointed in the other, stop and think about what you'd expected. This can help guide your attitudes and actions the next time a similar thing occurs.

Some of my personal expectations (deep needs and wants) are:
  • I want to say and hear each day those three magic words - I love you.
  • Forgive me when I make a mistake in either words or action.
  • Take some time every day to talk about more than the day.
  • Put a high priority on quality time together.
  • Listen to me with both your ears and your heart.
  • Say "please" and "thank you."
  • Be affectionate.
  • Take care of yourself physically and emotionally.
  • Share in the day-to-day responsibilities of running a house and home.
  • Be yourself.

ABC Wednesday is the brainchild of Mrs. Nesbitt and she has done a marvelous job at keeping this going for over three years now. Drop in to read what other participants have to say each week. Just click here.


nancygrayce said...

I love this post! Especially since I am also in a later life marriage. I understand so those expectations! My husband and I have been married almost 14 years and we are still working on some of those expectations! We have found that if we can find a way to laugh through (or after) a "discussion" that makes one of uncomfortable, we both feel better. Another big potentially problem area is finances. His and mine! I have spent many hours during our marriage praying about one thing or the other.

It is so worth all the work!

James said...

Very interesting. A while back my wife and I were trying to figure out why our marriage was so much easier and happier than it was in the past. We came to the conclusion that once we lowered our expectations and excepted each other for who we are, we became very happy together. 22yrs of marriage and getting better at it everyday. We are also older and wiser too. :-)

Reader Wil said...

Very good, Leslie! I agree with you! It's not easy to see your expectations coming true.

Linda Jacobs said...

38 years for us. Your post makes a lot of sense! I, too, am a teacher and I'm always telling my high schoolers to marry someone they like, not someone they love. Liking is like leather and it'll last while love is delicate lace and can tear easily. They think I'm nuts but I told them they'd remember my words when they are older.

Carol said...

A good post, Leslie...I agree with you...our expectations make a big difference in relationships...we all have certain expectations even if we don't realize it....and a lot of them are similar...

Your EG Tour Guide said...

Great post, Leslie.I think older people have more realistic expectations than the young. It takes maturity to realize that we are ALL stars in our own show (a.k.a. life) and that not one of us in the centre of the Universe.

Bcwillow said...

I love it Leslie! It applied to our marriage as well. We weren't AS independent for as long however, we do know what it's like to combine households and two VERY different lives. I like seeing that you wrote communication is key. Very true! I tell every newly married couple - you don't have to like what the other is saying, but you do have to listen. And you do have the right to say that I can't talk right now or I'll rip your head off. :)
Keep up the good work and keep giving it to God. He seems to knwo what He's doing in all of this for us!

mrsnesbitt said...

Oh lesley! This is so so wonderful\!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Interesting, Leslie. I've never been married but I remember that when I was 17 or so, although I knew I'd go to university and have a career, my expectations of a marriage were that I would spend a large part of it staying at home. Now my expectations , if I were lucky enough to meet someone, would be much as yours are.

Granny Smith said...

A very insightful post. I only experienced one wonderful marriage of almost 68 years, but I recognize the evolution of love and acceptance that you outline here.

I wish you and your new partner many years of increasing love and happiness.

Rinkly Rimes said...

Excellent! (And I'm not just saying that to squeeze an 'E' in!) I think the 'white wedding' expectations ruin many peoples' lives. I married a friend (male!) and we're still friends (most of the time!) after 40 years.

photowannabe said...

Beautifully said and I think your expectations will be filled. You have a real keeper there.

Beverley Baird said...

I too have had a second (later) marriage and can so relate to your very interesting post.
We married at 50 and have many trials and tribulations the past 7 years. Lately it has been health issues. We are both still working full-time (I am teaching) .
I agree with all of your expectations and I am happy to say that my hubby meets most of them This marriage is definitely one of sharing and love.

Tumblewords: said...

Surely a fine post full of wisdom and a dollop of humor...

Grace and Bradley said...

We married thirty-five years ago and just passed on anniversary at the same hotel that we spent out honeymoon these many years ago. I agree every points that raised.

Anonymous said...

I love this post...My husband must be in the tunnel still..and cannot find his wait out...!!

Our marriage was great until about 7 years ago and has been a struggle ever since, my expectations are not the same has his, infact, I don't even think , he thinks there is a problem, I know there is!!!

Jay said...

This is a great post, and well worth thinking about. We were married thirty three years ago (nearly) and yes, expectations were very different. I almost think people marry these days with an expectation that they will divorce at some point! That didn't enter our heads, did it?

Chapati said...

Great post! I hope I remember this if/when I get married...

Well done on POTD, it is truly deserved.

p.s. ABC Wednesday, what a good idea!

lv2scpbk said...

A good post and an excellent E.

Roger Owen Green said...

I don't know if it's "lowering" expectations as much as changing them, but I hear where you're coming from.

Sandi McBride said...

Our 42 anniversary arrives on Oct 15 and believe me, it was never easy, but it seemed once we accepted each other as best friends as well as lovers the road straightened out and the bumps became less pronounced...so I think you hit the nail on the head! Congrats on Post of the Day...great choice by David!

Moannie said...

Lovely post and well worth POTD.

I can honestly say that JP and I can tick all those expectations of yours...though it doesn't mean that we never squabble.

Mimi said...

Lovely post,and gets one thinking.
Communication is so important in any relationship, at every stage of it.I'm a teacher too, not yet retired,and I too find it difficult to let go of "doing" and "explaining" things- I think it's in the blood now.
I love the garage analogy!

Gaston Studio said...

Congrats on POTD; came over from David's Authorblog and glad I did.

Wonderful, insightful post! I was married in the early 60s and we just simply didn't communicate as well back then as people tend to do today. Also, as you say, expectations change as we evolve and it's so important to share those changes, IMHO.

Kim said...

Great post and congrats on the POTD. I think that I could use some of this wisdom because my partner and I are pretty much just beginning even though we've been together for over ten years. I like that you advise to re-check your expectations. Often I don't do that and feel fully justified in condemning my husband here and there.

Q said...

Very interesting post.
I have been married to the same man for 37 years. We still have expectations...sometimes we are just grateful to be able to unfold after watching a movie for two hours!
It is a dance...sometimes we lead sometimes we follow and sometimes we just stand up and wiggle.
Happy ABC Wednesday.

Comedy Goddess said...

Nicely done, and congratulations on POTD.

I live with my parents who are in their 70's. they have been retired for a long time. My dad is still very social, and my mom is still happy enough at home. Sometimes they clash over that conflict.

Mostly, my dad is very involved at church, on the parish council so it gives him something to keep busy. Mom likes to read a lot, browse the internet, and sometimes cook. They have been married for 51 years.
I think they are worried about who will go first. And their health is pretty good, so they may not know for a long time still!

Willow said...

I wonder what it will be like for 'him and me' when we both retire. We'll need to take a look at those expectations.

Congratulations on POTD. Well deserved for an excellent essay.

Life with Kaishon said...

Wow. Those are some very deep thoughts about marriage. Ours has just begun and it is a challenge every day : ). A fun challenge, but a challenge none the less.