Have you ever felt like crying after you opened a gift from your husband?
Christmas is supposed to be a wonderful time of year. But the holiday season can turn out to be anything but wonderful, especially when your husband gives you crummy gift.
A lot of times the problem isn’t the gift itself. It’s the expectation. When your expectations go unmet, conflict arises.
Don’t get me wrong. A crummy gift is disappointing, especially if you’re expecting jewelry, but you get a something like a bowling ball.
Unmet expectations lead to hurt, and hurt can lead to arguments because you’re left feeling unappreciated or unloved.
Avoid conflict over unmet expectations by talking about what you want.
Unmet expectations have caused a fair amount of disappointment in my marriage.
My first Christmas as a wife was anything but wonderful.
When my husband reached underneath the tree and pulled out a jewelry-sized box, I expected a pair of earrings, a watch or a necklace. When I opened the box and pulled out a set of commemorative Liberty Coins–the Statue of Liberty coins–I cried. Hard.
History lesson: The U.S. government sold coins depicting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island to raise funds to refurbish the monuments in the 80s.
To say “my expectations were unmet” is an understatement.
It sounds selfish and ungrateful to cry when someone gives you a gift, especially when they’re trying to do something nice for you.
Instead of thinking, “he doesn’t care about me,” be honest about what you want. Don’t expect him to guess. You may be disappointed.
Just because you tell him what you want, doesn’t mean he’s going to get it right the first time. But letting him know what you need or want increases your chances of getting it.
If you don’t talk about it before hand and you find yourself staring at the equivalent of Liberty Coins Christmas morning, try this instead:
1. Say “wow” instead of “why.” It’s tempting to ask, “Why did you get me this?” When you address your man with “why,” he sees it as a challenge. It translates to “This is stupid. Why did you pick this?”
2. Smile and let him know you appreciate it. Whether you like it or not, you do appreciate that he thought of you and took the time to buy you a gift.
3. Value his effort. He might not have gotten it right, but at least he tried. Let him know you appreciate that.
4. Try not to get angry. Disappointment can sometimes come out as anger. Instead of immediately launching a verbal assault, try to look at the positive. Tell him you appreciate what he tried to do.5. Express yourself without drama. Usually when our expectations are unmet, we’re hurt, which can lead to anger. Anger can create drama. Create an atmosphere for dialogue. When I’m upset or accusatory, I can put my husband in defense mode. He’ll naturally want to defend himself if he feels attacked.
6. Distance yourself from the situation. Take a little time before responding. Process your emotions before you speak.
When you identify your hurt as unmet expectations instead of accusing him of not loving you, you can choose to respond differently.
I was upset because I didn’t think my husband was thinking of me when he gave me Liberty Coins. He was a coin collector. Not me. When our expectations are unmet, we can assume the person wasn’t considering us or our feelings.
That may not be the case at all. He may genuinely believe he’s doing something nice for you.
Once my husband figured out why I was upset, he was more than apologetic. And he felt bad because I was disappointed.
We’ve been married for more than 33 years now. And, we laugh about the Liberty Coins. I haven’t always handled the disappointment of unmet expectations in the right way.
Liberty Coins aren’t a bad gift, if you like that sort of thing. I expected something different.
People–husbands, friends, relatives– will let you down at some point. Avoid unmet expectations by talking about your expectations before conflict arises.
How can you avoid unmet expectations?
Need skills to build intimacy?
- Get on the waitlist for my next group coaching session–Change Your Mind; Change Your Marriage.
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- Check out my FREE resources and download How to Be A Wife No Man Will Ever Want to Leave.
- Apply for private coaching with Sheila.
Also known as the Not So Excellent Wife, Sheila Qualls understands how tiring a tough marriage can be.
She went from the brink of divorce to having a thriving marriage by translating timeless truths into practical skills. She’s helped women just like you turn their men into the husbands they want.
She and her husband Kendall live in Minnesota with their five children and their Black Lab, Largo.
In addition to coaching, Sheila is a member of the MOPS Speaker Network. Her work has been featured on the MOPS Blog, The Upper Room, Grown and Flown, Scary Mommy, Beliefnet, Candidly Christian, Crosswalk.com, The Mighty and on various other sites on the Internet.