To make sure your relationship remains the best it can be, unrealistic expectations must be kept locked away, just like the fancy silverware you said you’ll use when guests come over but end up forgetting about it altogether. Even so, since it is human nature, expectations do find a way into everyone’s lives. So the question arises, are we expecting too much in our relationships? If so, how do we find out?
To understand if we’re expecting too much in our modern, fast-paced relationships, we need to take a trip down memory lane. By comparing the stark differences in the two eras, you’ll be better able to see just why we might be expecting too much without even realizing it.
High expectations in relationships invariably damage them, but if “do I expect too much” has never crossed your mind, read on to find out just how everyone in today’s world might be guilty of doing so.
Are We Expecting Too Much In Our Relationships?
Think of wives in the ‘70s. They had their friends for long girly chats, sisters-in-law to analyze what their mother-in-law was up to. They had their brothers and fathers with whom they discussed, understood and planned their monetary concerns, some neighbors filled them in on how to handle whom in the family, while another taught them how to make the best pancakes or get the right color on the apple pies.
They had a convoy of women to help with child-rearing duties and they had their husbands to giggle with and snuggle up to in bed. The men too had a fleet of people they shared their responsibilities and needs with. They had their men-only clubs, societies and organizations where they could seek solace and advice. Till modern times most occupations were male-only and workplace camaraderie was an often-sought escape from domestic squabbles. And, of course, they were free to share their issues with their mistresses.
Related Reading: How couple-dynamics have changed across generations, for the better
Today, it seems as though all our needs are parked with that one lover/spouse. They must be our parents and pat us when we are down and they must be our man who ravages us in bed. They must be our friends and listen to our woes about colleagues. They must be attractive to us in the evening and us mysterious and romantic to them (over the candlelight dinner we prepared at home).
They must mentor us when we are down and they must provide for the education of our children. They must rebuild our faith in a crisis and they must be socially successful! All our needs – sexual needs, emotional, material – must be met by the one and only. We too must be the one-stop answer for their needs.
Why we might be expecting too much
When modern relationships are compared with love in the 70s, it’s clear to see that expectations of a spouse have changed without us having much say in the matter. “I don’t expect too much from my relationship at all, ” you might have thought, but without even knowing it our expectations in relationships have skyrocketed.
Dr. Salony Priya, a marriage therapist based in Calcutta, cited single- or two-child families with extra-doting parents as one of the attitudinal issues in contemporary marriages. She says, “Emotional skills are extremely important: handling your own emotions and trying to get a sense of your partner’s. Now, especially in urban India, we have this new generation of couples with one or two kids. Parents want to fulfill their child’s every single need and desire. The underlying theme is instant gratification and pleasure. Besides, these children are seen as the trophy generation – everyone is a winner, everyone is special. This leads to a sense of entitlement, a culture of ‘I want’. There is little or no disciplining for poor behavior. ‘Chill’ has replaced ‘accountability’. ”
She points out, “These kids grow up and marry people (like themselves) they love and care for, but no one can be like the other’s parents, fulfilling every need or wish that escapes their lips. They have no patience to wait – for anything. They have little tolerance. They demand instant results. This generation not only wants it all from one person, but it also wants a lot more from that one person. We need to rethink our entitlements. The need to be balanced has never been more urgent than it is now.”
Different times bring different expectations
As you can see, never has so much been demanded from one relationship. Even if we think we never expect too much, just by taking a look at how things used to be versus what our expectations of a spouse have come to now will show us that we all need to take a step back and ask ourselves “am I asking for too much in my relationship?”
We lived in involved communities, extended families where religion and elders automatically filled many gaps. Networks and ties were not just expansive but stronger, and people were more interactive in a very everyday, physical sense (not just on Facebook and WhatsApp).
Whether it is the modern city life, compact houses and schedules or the ideal of individuation that has led to the disintegration of these communal and familial bonds, the fact is that we were far richer in terms of human resources then, than we are now. The wifes’ expectations from husbands have increased, the opposite holds true as well.
Thus there is even more dependence on that one relationship than ever. We have elevated ‘love’ to extreme heroism and it is crumbling under the unbearable burden. Love is in fatal danger today under this severe pressure. It seems as though “am I expecting too much” isn’t even a question you need to ask anymore, the question now has become how to manage expectations in your relationship.
How can one person address all our needs and quirks?
We need a Jinn for that, not a human.
“Besides,” says clinical psychologist Kalpana Khatwani, “Unlike the West, we are essentially a collective nation. In the US or European ‘soulmate’ cultures, even when couples come together and marry, each still has their separate lives in which each does what he or she wants. They are individualist countries. “
“India is a collectivist nation. Everything here has to be done jointly. When you are out at a restaurant or a theatre, women even go to the bathroom together. Even when shopping, women want others to accompany them. In the US, everyone shops alone. We have done well without the soulmate ideology!” she adds.
Your expectation in a relationship might simply be to experience happiness. But just because of how the world has changed and collectively, we’ve started expecting too much from everything, it can result in despair caused by high expectations we didn’t even know we had.
There is, then, no single kind of intimate relationship. There are many, many different individuals who join together, who influence each other’s lives, who fulfill each other’s needs, who love each other… for a day, for a year, or for a lifetime.
Without even knowing it, you might be expecting too much in your relationship. The only way to find out if you and handling unrealistic expectations is to have a conversation with your partner. Talk to him about what you want/expect and ask what he’s willing to provide. You know what they say, marriage is built on compromise.
Sometimes, having realistic expectations in marriage is necessary. The problem arises when you start expecting too much, more so if you start expecting too much without even realizing it. Try to keep a lid on your expectations of a spouse.
Ask yourself things like “Am I expecting too much in my relationship?”, or better yet, ask your partner how they feel. If your partner outright tells you that you are expecting too much, you have your answer. The best way to go about it is to have a conversation with your SO.