Sometimes reality doesn’t quite match up to our expectations. Actually, if we’re being frankly honest here — and we can be frankly honest, right??? — reality NEVER matches up to my expectations.
It’s either worse than I hoped for or it’s better than I could ever dream of. Sometimes, it’s both at the very same time.
Let’s talk about marriage.
Everything about my marriage has failed to live up to my expectations.
Yep, you are hearing me correctly.
EVERYTHING about my marriage has FAILED to live up to the expectations of what I EXPECTED marriage to be BEFORE we were married.
“Now, how can that be Les? I thought you had a great marriage.”
Well, that’s just it. I do have a great marriage. Best ever in fact. But by the expectations I had before we were married, it’s been a big disappointment.
THE UPS & THE DOWNS
Relationships of any kind will go through natural ups and downs.
On the downside, there will be disappointments, struggles, and heartaches, poor choices, hurt feelings, and frustrations, and even the real emotions of anger, sadness, jealousy, resentment, fear, doubt, and many more.
I have experienced every one of these. Elisa has as well.
On the upside, there will be happiness, joy, and love, accomplishment, charity, and compassion, unity in purpose, effort, and dreams, and even the real emotions of affection, romance, trust, contentment, understanding, and many more.
I have experienced every one of these. Elisa has as well.
Elisa and I continue to discover the power of talking. When something is difficult, talking about it will decrease the negative feelings connected to it. When something is simple or easy, talking about it will increase the healthy feelings connected with it.
Talking will decrease the negative and increase the positive. As you keep working through the difficulties, the complexities, and the nuances of relationships, your abilities to decrease the negative and increase the positive will exponentially magnify.
I know it can be hard. I am the King of Hard when it comes to getting lost in the Ugly Truths circulating in my head. Here are three things I have learned that have helped immensely
POWER OF THREE
- TALK – Don’t overcomplicate it. Just talk. Get the jumbled-up thoughts out of your head. If you’re not ready to talk out loud to your spouse or partner, start with what you are ready for. Write in a journal, talk with a trusted friend, seek the listening ear of an ecclesiastical leader, or the trusted guidance of a professional.
- LISTEN – Intentional listening is a crucial part of healthy communication. Learning to listen with a desire to understand will help create a trusted environment where you can also seek to be understood. It will not be easy to start. You will need to have extreme patience and grace for your spouse/partner and extreme patience and grace for yourself. While you’re listening, also grant yourself permission to receive the love being given to you.
- EMPATHY – The ability to understand and share the feelings of another, the definition of empathy, should be the focus of healthy communication in a relationship. When you have empathy as your intentional focus, your love will become more compassionate, your hopes will be nurtured, and your patience will grow. You will see and feel more of the greatness in your love, the greatness in yourself, and the greatness in who you are becoming together. Indeed, to be one of many to misquote Aristotle, “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts” (If you want to understand why what Aristotle really said is actually much greater, check out this brief article by Paul Martin).
My wonderful friend Cheryl Knowlton, with one simple picture, illustrates the potential for extreme differences between our expectations and our reality. This funny meme prompted me to write a few thoughts.
By Les Patterson
When our realities fall short
Of our desired outcomes
And created expectations
When our failures in trying
Become glaring eyesores
Of created frustrations
When our fragile hearts open
To those who know not our path
Creates judgmental agitation
We are then granted a gift
Of freedom to understand
The true source of causation
The judgemental comparison
Perceived to come from others
Or by our own false limitations
For the greatest effort we give
Is our utmost in being our best
A gift most worthy of celebration
A DISAPPOINTING MARRIAGE
While my headline may feel like a farce to catch your attention, I hope you can feel what I am really saying is our marriage has been more disappointing than we each expected — and much better — at the same time.
Dreams have not come true. Feelings have been hurt. Situations have been misunderstood. Tears have been shed. Anger and frustrations have been expressed.
Dreams have come true. Feelings have been healed. Situations once misunderstood have been talked about and understanding found. Tears of both pain and joy have been released to create healing. Compassion, empathy, forgiveness, hope, wonder, excitement, effort, grace, beauty, passion, etc. combine together into the real meaning of the all-encompassing word of LOVE.
When it comes to expectations versus reality, our marriage has been disappointing. It has been worse than we could ever have imagined AND it has been better than we could ever have imagined. And don’t we look cute in our Mama and Papa Bear jammies from last Christmas!
That my friends is exactly why our marriage is one of GREATNESS!
Have a great Monday! Thanks for letting me share.
P.S. Take 13 minutes today to intentionally focus on the GREATNESS in your relationships.
Lead Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
RED EDGE LIVE WITH TINA MILLER-LEVENE, THE MENTAL IMPACT OF ADDICTION
Five years ago last week my brother Shane Patterson was killed by suicide. While there are many factors that led to that final moment of his life, one significant factor was the long-term impact of addictive behaviors on his mental health. Stimulants that started in his teen years with caffeine and tobacco quickly escalated to marijuana to pill to meth.
Exposure to pornography while still a child led to addictive level consumption throughout his life along with risky and inappropriate sexual behaviors that resulted in a lengthy incarceration. Shane, like many who struggle with addiction of any type, lost his freedom of choice and the ability to love himself and see his own greatness. Fortunately, many have found their freedom through sustained sobriety. Many have made the choice to love themselves once again and to receive love from others. Many have learned how to step confidently into their GREATNESS!
One of those is my beautiful friend Tina Miller-Levene. Tina has chosen to find victory over her experience with childhood trauma, rape, domestic violence, and addiction. Today, Tina celebrates 23 years of substance freedom and has used her freedom to continually create her own story of greatness and empower many others to do the same. Click here to enjoy!
The Story You Most Consistently Create Will be The Story To Most Consistently Come True In Your Life. Promise To Intentionally Create A Beautiful, Powerful, Wonderful Story Of Love And Greatness!
RED EDGE MENTORING – STORY | STRATEGY | SERVICE
EMPOWER LEADERS TO CREATE a STORY of GREATNESS, a STRATEGY of SUCCESS, and CULTURE of SERVICE & LOVE.