How would you like to stop all arguing and anger in your relationships?  How would you like to never be disappointed or depressed or angry again?  What would it be like to live in a state of constant satisfaction instead of sadness, bitterness or resentment?  Are you depressed or anxious – how about getting these monkeys off your back without resorting to powerful brain drugs and their side effects?  All of these situations and emotions flow from one single way of thinking and if you can change it – even a little – you will improve your life and marriage and family and friendships immensely. 


The core of this disastrous way of thinking is expectations;   expectations of others, of situations, of institutions, even of ourselves.  Expectations are not preferences – they are the ways that we believe people or things should be – ought to be – must be!  And when we do not get what we have chosen to expect then we depress, we anger, we act sad, bitter, resentful and anxious.  I recently received a letter from a woman who had visited my website.  She liked most of what she saw on the site but took me to task for my suggestion that one should not have any expectations of their partner.  She suggested that marriage is full of expectations and when our partner stops trying to meet them – that’s when conflict and anger are present.  She said that even marriage vows were full of expectations!  She thought I was saying that the person who was offended because their expectations were not met should really make no mind of it – they should allow the offender to be who they are and should take responsibility for the offense and change their behavior to accommodate the offender. She thought that surely she was misunderstanding this.  Here’s a summary of how I answered her:

  1. Zero expectations of your partner (or children etc) is a goal – like “goodness” is a goal that we may never reach but should strive for.

  2. There is no such thing as a “reasonable expectation” – we call them reasonable to justify them.

  3. Marriage vows are what we promise to do for the other – regardless of the situation we are in and without a promise of getting anything in return. Problems arise later when we “expect” our partner to respond in the way we want.

  4. When our expectations are not met we respond with what Dr. Wm. Glasser calls the 7 deadly habits of relationship – blaming, nagging, complaining, criticizing, threatening, bribing and punishing.

  5. If someone is offended in relationship it was because they had some expectations of the other and how they should behave. The burden of responsibility for this offense must fall on the offended because they freely chose to expect specific behavior from their partner - then had negative thoughts which led to negative feelings.

Take control of your pain immediately by reducing your expectations – the lower they are the less pain you will feel.