Sunday was the BIG game. We walked across the street to our neighbor’s home, where the food is ample and amazing. I brought sun-dried tomato pesto appetizers – and they were gone in ten minutes. I brought wedges of brownie pizza – and they were gone in four. I didn’t expect that.
We rooted for the Patriots. It was the Year of Revenge – where they would beat every team that denied them Super Bowl victories of the past. We wanted them to win, but the Giants took that away. We didn’t expect that either.
In the last couple weeks several people I know have had things happen they didn’t expect:
A young couple gave birth to their daughter – they didn’t expect her to need open heart surgery immediately afterward.
My son’s dream was to be a Marine – we didn’t expect that he would be medically discharged.
A friend expected that her son would make a certain baseball team – he didn’t.
A friend’s father was finally healing after a difficult illness – they didn’t expect his sudden death.
A police officer didn’t expect that a foot pursuit would end in a need for shoulder surgery.
A group of five people driving home from the Super Bowl didn’t expect that three of them would never make it – after they were hit by a drunk driver.
On the other hand, sometimes we expect things not to happen, and we are surprised and pleased. A check arrives in the mail. A new job offer. Flowers on the doorstep (hint, hint!).
Our lives are constantly changing, twisting and turning, bringing pain and bringing joy. We never know what to expect. Especially as spouses of those with crisis-driven careers. And newsflash: there’s not a darn thing we can do about it. So much of life is out of our control.
What we can control is our expectations of loved ones. If there is discord, misunderstanding or conflict, often it is because others failed to meet our expectations. They didn’t make it on time, they didn’t have the right response, they were insensitive, they didn’t do what was asked. We are disappointed, we are angry, we want to lash out, and sometimes we even want to give up. So much of conflict is based on assumptions.
What am I expecting of my spouse? My kids?
People at work, school?
What am I expecting of friends, family?
What am I expecting of God?
What do others expect of me?
Are these expectations fair? If not, we adjust.
Have I communicated them clearly? If not, then I can start today.
I think these questions are worth asking and answering. We can’t control the unexpected happenings of life, and obviously we won’t always get what we expect. But we can take honest inventory of what we expect from those we love, and communicate clearly, improving our relationships, and making life just a little bit better.