In life and relationships we will often receive advice to temper our expectations of others. We hear things like “give them the benefit of the doubt”, “nobody’s perfect” and “be reasonable.” While that advice is all well and good and often important to keep in mind, there is also a danger to that way of thinking. We run the risk of lowering our expectations too much and settling for a life or a relationship that is not fair to ourselves as individuals.
When I think back to my marriage (and pretty much every dating relationship beforehand) I wish I would have maintained higher expectations. Please don’t misunderstand me here—I’m not necessarily saying I wish I would’ve chosen someone else—I’m saying I wish I would have expected more from him in the context of our relationship. I wish I would’ve had higher expectations in a lot of different ways: in communicating (read my earlier post on the importance of communication), in making an effort to understand my pain disorder, in playing a part of my healing journey, and overall in making my needs a priority. Who knows, maybe if I had communicated higher expectations he would have rose to the occasion.
That brings me to my next point. Not only should you have higher expectations, but you should also communicate those expectations. Don’t merely wait for him to volunteer to drive you to your next doctor’s appointment—ask him to come with you. And after you have properly communicated your expectations, don’t settle. Of course life happens and people cannot always live up to our ideal, but avoid making excuse after excuse.
During the first three years of my journey with sexual pain, going to multiple doctors searching for a correct diagnosis, my husband at the time went to one appointment with the sex therapist I was seeing. Aside from the outpatient surgery which required someone to drive me, that was the only appointment he attended. Then, during three years of physical therapy and even more doctors, he joined me for one PT appointment and one visit to the sexual medicine specialist. I was a little disappointed at the time, but I never really expected more. It wasn’t until I met another patient and her husband at an event where we spoke about our own personal journeys with sexual pain that it really hit me. Her husband seemed to know more about her disorder than even she did, recalling all of the various medications and treatments she had tried. This helped me realize that expecting your significant other to fully support you in your journey with sexual pain is not unreasonable—it is required.
Maybe I am the only one who has made this mistake, but on the off chance you also struggle in this area I want to tell you—have higher expectations! You are more than worth it! Don’t compromise your personal values and don’t settle. You deserve better. Have higher expectations.