Parenting is tough… but when you add a difficult or tenuous, or un-equitable marriage on top of it… it is even harder. I have spoken with many mommas who have expressed that they almost wish they were a single parent so that they at least were not disappointed on a daily basis by their spouse. Don’t get me wrong here… I am not saying that if you have a spouse that is not supporting your parenting efforts in the way you hoped that you should get a divorce… I am simply highlighting the severity of just how difficult it is to live in constant disappointment of a spouse not supporting your parent efforts… perhaps even undermining or causing strife too.
This all lies within our expectations. Of course there is a natural expectation that when you and your spouse/significant other have children, you will BOTH contribute to the rearing of said children. This is a completely normal and expected expectation. But, if you find that you are being constantly let down and living in discouragement day, after day, after day… it may be time for a change of expectations.
NOTE… I am NOT suggesting that you condone negative, lazy, or unhelpful behavior… I am suggesting you change what you can expect for now so you can keep your sanity AND work toward improving your situation. So much emotional energy is lost in disappointment… what if instead of feeling discouraged everyday, you could know your expectations are being met and use the previously wasted energy toward your children and communicating your hopes and support needs, as well as, educating your other half as to how he/she can truly help you for the betterment of your family. You need to focus on love and sharing… instead of disappointment, complaining, and nagging… This is much more enjoyable to interact with and more likely to motivate your other half to make a change.
Here are three steps you can take to change your expectations and work toward more cooperative parenting.
Step 1: Write Down Your Expectations.
We ALL have expectations about different aspects of our life… we don’t always realize what they are going to be, however, until we actually enter into that experience. It is very likely that you still may not be aware of some of the expectations you have in terms of what you and your half should be responsible for or how you should each act indifferent parenting situations. Start writing them down. You may be able to sit down and list of a few… but you will REALLY get a feel for what your expectations are if you allow this to be an ever-growing list. Here is a hint… whenever you get frustrated or angry… you are most likely feeling as though your expectation was not being fulfilled! WRITE IT DOWN! This is great material that you can review and see what is and is not realistic for you to expect with your current circumstances. You can also share these things with your other half OVER TIME (handing over the entire list may be a bit overwhelming, accusatory, and not received well!). Start expecting only the realistic things… aka what can currently happen without much intervention… and sprinkle in a new one here and there.
Step 2: Ask Your Spouse Their Expectations
Your spouse’s expectations are just as valuable as your own. NEITHER of your expectations are more important or trumps the other. All expectations need to be explored and considered. If there are conflicting expectations, this could help to solve so many of your current let downs! For all you know, your spouse thinks you are letting him/her down just as much as you think you are being let down. Also, oversations go a lot better when you ask the other person what he/she is expecting or wanting… as opposed to you letting the other person know how he/she is letting you down. Do you see the difference? When you ask about his/her expectations you are putting that person above yours (remember… you kinda promised you would do that when you got married). This allows the other person to feel cared for and a WHOLE LOT more open to hearing your side. AND… since you already wrote down your expectations… BOOM! A beautiful, focused conversation can now ensue!
Step 3: Let Go of the Things You Think Should Happen and Express Gratitude
Now that you know your expectations… Let. Them. Go. If you cling to them, you will constantly be disappointed. For right now, those expectations are not going to be met, so if you want to live life unburdened and feel content… you can no longer keep telling yourself that your spouse “should” be doing this or parenting “should” happen like this. You can “should” all day long… and you may be 100% correct in your “should”y statements… but they are NOT helping you. When you focus on the “should”s, you will constantly be discouraged. Instead, accept things the way they are and know that they can get better (because you are going to ask your spouse about their expectations and get the chance to lovingly share yours… over time!). AND on top of this, make sure that you are lavishing your other half with gratitude for anything and everything they are doing to fulfill your expectations. Hopefully there is something your other half is doing that you can thank him/her for during the day. Let them know how much their help, care, support, affection, attention, service, cleaning, working means to you and how acts of service to your family is priceless. Chances are over time (don’t expect a miracle in a week!), your spouse will take notice and desire to do more for you and your kids because it feels good. No one wants to get piles of “should”s dropped on them… but they sure love encouragement.
Does this resonate with you, but these steps seem a bit too difficult for you to tackle on your own? Perhaps you feel like there is SO much more to your story that needs to be taken into consideration for this topic. I would love to hear your story and help you to overcome the disappointment you are facing. Head to my client portal now to sign up for your free 20 minute consultation. Click on “New Client” and after you enter in some personal information, select the Free Consultation in the drop down menu. You will not be charged or signed up for anything else. 100% free, 20 minutes to help you. It’s time to stop dreading the day to day let downs and time to regain hope and implement change!