So this is something I really learned around my birthday in the beginning of March, thought about off and on since, then had it re-enforced during our home group Sunday night (we're watching Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage), then had the chance to re-learn again last night... thus the inspiration for the post :)
My birthday. I turned 27. And I was kind of bossy and told Shaun the day before just exactly what I wanted to do on "my day". I said I wanted to take a shower all by myself in the bathroom (you moms know this is a treat!) go to brunch at cracker barrel, I wanted to buy paint for our living room, I wanted to take a nap in the afternoon, go to dinner at my parents, and I even told him two topics of conversation I wanted to talk about that night before bed. Just so he could prepare his brain and have something to say back in the discussion. :) If you think that's bossy enough, well there's more... I emailed him a list of items I liked so he could choose one for my gift. GASP! But listen everyone... when we were out at brunch that morning, Shaun THANKED me for telling him what I wanted to do. He thanked me!! He said something along the lines of "he was more than happy to do whatever I wanted to for my birthday, and it made it so much easier if I just told him instead of making him try to guess right." Guys, when I turned 21 on my first birthday after getting married, I took off work, and just assumed he would too, and then he didn't, and I ended up having nothing to do all day on my 21st. Kinda a let down. Did it mean I didn't have a good husband?? NO! If I would have asked him ahead of time to take off work he would have. But did I believe a lie that my husband wasn't as romantic as I thought for a little while after my 21st birthday? Sadly, yes.
So here's the deal... Us girls grow up in a culture watching movies, reading magazines, and all manner of other influences that tell us that the guy should ALWAYS GUESS RIGHT. And that when he guesses right, it's a true sign of love. It means you're meant to be together. But, should he guess wrong, heaven forbid, it's cause for the deepest of pity parties, it means maybe he doesn't actually love you, it means you are the only one with out a "romantic" husband.... Because, let's face it, a lot of times we girls pretend to other girls that our guy is getting it all "right" all the time. It would be kind of easy for me to pretend I hadn't emailed that list of things to Shaun before my birthday, and just tell people he bought me this great shirt that I love in just the right size, and let them assume he picked it out on his own. But that only furthers this false illusion of romance. And I really don't want to do that to you. (The false illusion that I'm talking about is this: The world says true romance is when he guess right or comes up with it all on his own. I believe true romance is that he will do what he can to make the dreams you tell him a reality. The world separates the two of you and makes him do it on his own. True romances pulls the two of you together and makes you a team.)
Please hear me on this, I am not bashing Shaun in any way. And he does do romantic unexpected things for me. What I am saying is that if I have an expectation for the way something is going to go, I better communicate it ahead of time instead of getting mad at him if he doesn't somehow read my mind. I mean, would we enjoy it if there was an invisible pressure on us to read our husband's mind all the time and then anger and shame were expressed if we couldn't figure out exactly what he was thinking?
But can I just take it one step further here? Just because I have an expectation does not mean that I can just tell him and it will all go my way then. Because maybe he has an expectation too. And maybe during the communicating you will need to learn to blend those expectations together into something that works for both of you. Because, really, why are we getting married here? Do we want a partner? Do we want to grow and change and step into a world where we are now a half instead of a whole? Because if that's not what you want then you should stay single. I guess I'm just tired of a culture that tells us love is something that should make us feel good. You don't love someone for what's in it for you. You love them for what's in it for them. Love stands with its arms wide open and makes itself vulnerable and takes a risk so that someone else can feel what it means to be pursued, wanted, desired and fulfilled. And the beautiful paradox is that when you make yourself vulnerable and pour into someone else, it turns around and fulfills you too.
That seems like a great place to end but I'll just give you one more real life example... from last night. I had errands to run yesterday and instead of going by myself in the morning I waited til Shaun came home from work and we all went together. We got dinner at Panera Bread and then went into target. And come to find out I had ALL KINDA un-communicated expectations for while we were in target. For one thing, when I go by myself, NOBODY gets out of the cart. Everyone is contained and we go through that place like we are on a reconnaissance mission and being timed. Also, Jaden is always in the baby bjorn so I am hands free. The first thing Shaun bent my expectations on was insisting he would carry Jaden and we didn't need the bjorn. I compromised on that one. Then we got in there and Shaun let Drew and Isaiah out of the cart when my back was turned. We then had two wild men running up and down the aisles. And to top it all off, I had the un-communicated expectation that we were going to buy a big pot for our front porch while there. So when I asked Shaun to put a $32 giant concrete pot into our cart he did, but was saying things like "seriously?" and "do we really need this?" and "that's a lot of money for a pot!" To him it was a random purchase and not something I had on my mental list upon entering the store. Needless to say, the dumb pot became a much bigger deal than it ever should have been and was taken out of the cart and left in a random aisle as we got closer to the cash registers because I just couldn't get out of that store fast enough... (sorry for not putting it back in its proper place target workers) Drew and Isaiah were ordered back into the cart and I commandeered both the cart and Jaden and started speed walking to check out saying something stupid like "why is it easier when I come to target by myself with all three of them??" After a mostly silent drive home, with a reconciliatory hand hold, we pulled in the garage, let the boys go inside, and when we found it was just the two of us out there squeezed between the van and the garage wall we hugged and I said "I love you more than the pot." To which he responded "And I love you in spite of the pot." We decided that I can, indeed get a pot, but I'll try to look for a better deal... Compromise. :) And someday when there's a big, new, great-deal-of-a pot sitting on our front porch, I'll remember all this and it will make me smile.
So, all that to say... don't be ashamed to communicate your expectations ladies :)