By Jordy Liz on May 26, 2012
Last Christmas, I had my heart set on diamond stud earrings. I rarely even wear earrings but I thought if they were special, nice studs, I would get a lot of use out of them. So, I made sure Chris knew these were on my list. I typically don't tell him what I want outright because I like to be truly surprised and see what he will find. I had made it easy for him this time.
Several days before Christmas, he came home with a small box. He hid in the back room and wrapped it up, and then came back down the hallway and placed it strategically under the tree. It was right there: a small, gift-wrapped box. I was certain, absolutely certain, they were diamond earrings. What else could they be? I hadn't hinted at anything else.
We opened our presents on Christmas Eve. I handed him presents I had spent weeks selecting, and he handed me the small box, giddy and excited. As I was opening it, I was envisioning the earrings, so excited he had come through with an incredible gift. I carefully opened the paper and the box underneath told me everything.
It wasn't jewelry. It was perfume.
My face said it all, and as much as I tried to hide my disappointment, I couldn't. He read it like a book and sunk back into the couch.
"Perfume," I said, doing my best to force my lips into a smile. I was embarrassed at my own reaction.
"You don't like it," he said, obviously hurt.
"I do. I just, I thought..."
"You thought it was something else."
"Yeah, I did." And that ended the most awkward gift exchange I've ever participated in. In my head, I had told him exactly what I wanted. I already had at least five bottles of perfume, so why would he think I needed another one?
Later, when I came to my senses and apologized, he explained why he had bought the perfume. It was Taylor Swift's brand and I, we, love Taylor Swift. It had a bird on it and I love birds. The smell reminded him of me. And I hadn't even thought about why he was so excited to give it to me, nor did I ask. He knew what I had really wanted, but he also knew we weren't able to afford it.
I had doomed him to fail from the get-go.
By expecting the diamonds, I had determined anything else would be inadequate. I knew they were over our allotted price range for gifts, but I thought maybe he would surprise me with them anyway. Because I was being selfish. And inconsiderate. I had set up unrealistic expectations he couldn't afford to reach.
How often do we do this in our marriages or relationships? Christmas gifts aren't the only culprit.
I expect flowers on my birthday, so the hand-written letter within the sentimental card is all of a sudden not good enough. After spending an hour cooking, I expect him to do the dishes at least before we go to bed, so when they are still there in the morning, we start out the day on a rough note. I expect him to say something when I dress up particularly nice, and when he doesn't, I take that to mean I don't look as good as I thought I did.
And you know what? He has very few, if any, expectations of me aside from those we made in our vows over two years ago.
My expectations of him come from selfishness within me, and we're never going to win at this marriage gig if I keep setting us up to fail. He's not meeting my expectations, because I'm the one setting them. And when I set them, I don't tell him. I expect him to know, but he can't read my mind, and we repeat the cycle over and over and over again.
I can't stuff my expectations into a small gift-wrapped box.
I have to make realistic expectations and I have to communicate what I need.
I have to do each of these with love and fairness.
And by the way, I love the perfume.
How do you manage your expectations in your marriage or relationships?
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