I was listening to the radio the other morning, when I heard the morning show host pose a question about relationships and expectations. His question was, "Should you lower your expectations for people you are in a relationship with?" I wanted to dial in badly and answer his question! But, I was in a hurry and didn’t have time to give him these pearls that I am going to share with you today! Just thinking about relationships can make some people fearful. Other people delight and marvel at the opportunity to meet and create bonds with new people. As Christians we should always be seeking God for the relationships that he has for us. After all, he has called us to partner with him in building his kingdom.
So how and why do relationships get so complicated? What can we do to share the love of Christ but not get discouraged if things don’t pan out in certain relationships? Today I want to discuss the assumptions we often make in our relationships that cause things to go awry, and offer some tips to help you manage your expectations. Let’s dig in!
Assumption #1: Everyone thinks like we think
What a perfect world it would be if this were true! Or, maybe not because things could get boring rather quickly. I like to think that meeting people with different opinions creates space and opportunity for growth.
What exactly is it that causes us to want to hang around people that have the exact same beliefs as us? Yes, our inside circle should be filled with people that share our core values. However, for the purpose of growth people that we are in relationships with should also challenge us to become better versions of ourselves.
We tend to like hanging out with like-minded people because it’s “comfortable.” Think about this: is that comfort allowing you to become stronger and taking you to new levels in your personal, spiritual, or professional life? If not it may be time to evaluate your relationships.
It can be very dangerous to hang out with people who “always” agree with you! Challenge yourself to have relationships where you share values but are different in terms of how you like to live out life. For example I tend to be a homebody. So it’s important for me to have friends that enjoy adventures that will pull this homebody into some fun!
Assumption #2: People should know what we're thinking
This is a very dangerous assumption. Our friends and family cannot read our minds. We must speak up! It’s also not wise to put that kind of pressure on a relationship. It may feel scary to speak up and often times we don’t want to because we don’t want to get a NO.
We have to give our relationships the space for people to be able to tell us no without us falling apart. If you get a no, typically it has nothing to do with you. That person simply cannot fulfill your request!
Recently I needed to go to the doctor and all 4 of my kids were home. I was low on options for having someone watch them so I called my husband at work and asked if he could come home. This particular time he couldn’t, so he told me to see if I could get a babysitter to come and watch the kids.
Now, I could have easily gotten mad because he didn’t drop everything and come home. Instead I chose to shift my perspective and see the YES he was giving me. He said, “I can’t come, but why don't you see if you can get a babysitter.”
You’re probably wondering how in the world that was a yes. Well, I needed someone to watch the kids and he couldn’t do it, but he DID provide me with the resources I needed (money to call someone to watch the kids.)
So before we get bent out of shape we have to release people from our expectations that can sometimes be mismanaged!
Assumption #3: People have intentionally hurt or wronged us
I don’t think I’ve ever met anybody this vindictive (at least I hope not!) What I have found to be true is that often times people have their own things that they are dealing with that have absolutely nothing to do with us.
We have to grow to a place of maturity where we understand the world does not revolve around our circumstances and us. Don’t assume anything. If your feelings get hurt by a loved one, be brave enough to ask their intentions if it is something really bothering you. Otherwise let it go. As often as you can smile and share love!
Assumption #4: We should never be corrected
Don’t get caught up here! I just read an article recently that talked about being able to take correction as a sign of wisdom. Of course guard your heart and run things through a filter. But, if someone is sharing truth in love with us, we must not get defensive and shut down. Take what you can apply and always remain teachable.
Assumption #5: Our way is the right way
There is a difference between always being right and God’s standard of truth. If being right is ruining your relationships, the cost of being right is too high. God created us for relationships. We need people and should not be isolated.
Sometimes we need to step back from the need to be right in order to embrace others. I think sometimes we feel like if we don’t show them, then they will never learn. That couldn’t be further from the truth!
God truly does meet all of us exactly where we need to be met. Always extend grace and the love of God. We should all strive to focus less on being “right” and more on building strong enough relationships that we get the opportunity to speak truth in love.
It is my prayer that your relationships bring you life and not frustration! If you’d like to talk more about expectations and relationships, I'd love for you to sign up for a 30 min discovery session with me!