While shopping, my wife & I met the delectable Sabina, she was just rounding up her service year in my Office. She excitedly told us that the man who was with her is her fiancé. That’s great, I am an advocate of meaningful relationships & had wished to advise her but I have had to respect boundaries. After the felicitations, I asked her if they had unpacked their bags; I guess the question must have taken her by surprise. She lowered her voice as she said ‘Mr. Weli, we are not married yet o, I have not moved in with him’. I smiled as I rephrased the question ‘have you two unpacked your bags of expectations?’
Marriage is a very serious relationship to contemplate. It can be the most blissful thing on Earth, and it could also be the worst thing that ever happened to anyone when it goes bad. One of the reasons marriages and any other relationships fail are mainly because expectations were not met. Unmet expectations are the number 1 reason why many relationships fail, they make the heart sick. It is disheartening when people go into relationships expecting ‘A’ & ‘B’, but then get in to see ‘U’ to ‘Z’ and no ‘A’ & ‘B’. It is a terrible situation to be in. You can never be happy in life unless you meet your expectations or change them and then meet the new ones.
In a figurative way, everyone alive is carrying his own bags of expectations. The bag contains all that we expect from others in all our associations and dealings. You may be wondering how we came about this bag; well our genetics predisposes us to a lot of things; but from our environment, we begin to pick up beliefs, values, and opinions about ourselves and the world and that is what we load into this bag as we pass through life. Starting from infancy we gather these things from the environment – views about money, marriage, sex, how we want to be treated, loved, and respected, what we want in a friend, just name it; we just pick and drop in our bag. The features we want in a prospective mate, the famed love map, we gather! If there is religious conditioning, that too plays its part in shaping us.
Then someday we meet someone we love, just as Sabina has. But that rush of romantic love is not strong enough to keep marriage blissful, we soon realize. A little while after we settle into normal life our bag comes into play with our expectations. What you want in sex, use of money, number of children, and a myriad of things must align with your spouse, otherwise, you’re in trouble. Part of courtship must include the opportunity to unpack your bag, discuss its contents, and agree with your significant other – a very open & transparent communication about your expectations. Having laid out the background for her and her fiance, I asked them again ‘have you unpacked your bag? They left deep in thought.
What are your expectations about this life? Sit back as comfortably as possible, look through all facets of your life and write down what you want. Allow what you want to come from the deepest parts of your heart, consider them closely, shed off the fantasy and fairy tales, and decide what would really make you happy. For those that revolve around people, have an honest discussion with them to express your needs – expectations are needs! Note that we cannot determine all the rules of engagement when we meet people but we can decide how to deal with things when they arise. One of the most important things you will ever do in any relationship is to agree on an acceptable way on how to handle conflicts when they arise (not if, as conflicts must arise).
We can have an honest discussion and say what things we do & not like. But that is not the end of discovery. Even after many years of marriage people still get to discover things about each other. They meet circumstances they have never been in before & must adjust. Imagine that a couple suddenly succeeds in a business deal & makes a lot of money, a sum they have never made before. If they don’t carefully manage expectations, this could land them in serious trouble.
So have you determined what your expectations are in all your critical relationships? Do your family members, colleagues, and others know what you expect of them? Do you know what they expect of you? To be most certain, you need to empty your baggage in a discussion with them. That is the only way to be sure!
‘How can I be best of service to you?’ is a question we can use when unpacking our bags.
Yesterday I met Sabrina, who I last saw about a year ago. She rushed to me & says ‘Mr. Weli, that relationship ended, but it was blissful, you should have left me in my ignorance’. I just waited for the real reaction as she turns back & gives me a big hug. ‘You saved my life with your talk that day. After we unpacked our bags following your advice, we found out that we were bound for different directions & that is where we have gone’. Thanks!
Have you unpacked your bag yet?
Pic. credits: Couple arguing: https://www.aninews.in/news/lifestyle/relationships/bad-marriage-can-affect-your-gut201808151918270001/
Super Child: https://study.com/academy/lesson/operant-conditioning.html
Couple unpack bags: https://www.pexels.com/photo/focused-woman-packing-suitcase-in-bedroom-4247725/