Valentine’s Day Expectations

by Sara Aboulhosn

It’s almost Valentine’s Day.  Radomir and I were casu­ally dis­cussing V-day and the crass com­mer­cial­iza­tion of just about all aspects of it and we started think­ing about what to write about for this so-called hol­i­day.  What topic would hit the nail on the head?  For me, it was easy to see – Unful­filled Expec­ta­tions.  Sorry Charles Dick­ens, not Great Expec­ta­tions but the unful­filled ones. They just pop up every­where, in all places, at all times; not just in romance. They do tend to stand out more on Valentine’s Day, though, because of the hype our cul­ture has built up around what we should do, what we should have and most, most, most impor­tantly what we SHOULD GET!

Oh, to be a woman (and I am) on V-day. We should get the flow­ers, the choco­late (even though we secretly or maybe not so secretly com­plain it makes us fat), the can­dles, the romance and yes, THE RING (if that’s where we’re at in our rela­tion­ship).  Hey, even if we’re past the ring stage, tele­vi­sion com­mer­cials tell us our man SHOULD be shop­ping at Jared Jew­el­ers or the like and buy­ing us a trin­ket from this or that lovely Valentiny col­lec­tion of jew­elry.  Depend­ing on the man, he might even be spring­ing for Tiffany’s and buy­ing us way more than a mere trin­ket.  The point is, though, he SHOULD be doing some­thing for us.  He SHOULD be show­ing us he loves us.  He SHOULD be spend­ing more money on us that he usu­ally spends and if he doesn’t usu­ally spend money on us, this is his chance to make it up and really show us he loves us.

I was so poignantly reminded of this whole nasty can of Unful­filled Expec­ta­tions by watch­ing the Valen­tine episode of Grey’s Anatomy.  Yes, you can pick up rela­tion­ship advice from these dra­mas, if you’re pay­ing atten­tion.  A cou­ple comes into the ER, he on a gur­ney, she walk­ing on her legs, both exit­ing from an ambu­lance that had picked him up from a car acci­dent. He was chas­ing her in his car – she ran out on him when she found out that once again, after 8 years, he didn’t give her an engage­ment ring.  Once again he got her hopes up with a small box, but instead of a ring, it had a “cheap neck­lace” inside (as she put it). She was harangu­ing him as he was being wheeled into the treat­ment room lying flat on the gur­ney, strapped down to pro­tect his neck, a gauze pad under his nose to sop up the blood, since his nose was broken.

Once again, after 8 years her expec­ta­tions were unful­filled. She couldn’t even open the neck­lace, which was a locket neck­lace. All she could do was run out of their home to escape the noise in her head which was prob­a­bly say­ing some­thing like, “He doesn’t love me, he’s using me, he’s this, he’s that…”

He needed surgery and after the surgery, as she was sit­ting by his bed­side watch­ing him hooked up to tubes and wires, look­ing washed out and gravely hurt, she told one of the doc­tors that although she had the ring picked out for when he finally pro­posed, look­ing at him there, she real­ized that all of that was crap. All she wanted was for him to be OK.  Unfor­tu­nately, it was too late and he crashed. They couldn’t revive him and he left the earthly plane with all of its unful­filled expec­ta­tions float­ing around.  Later, the doc­tor with whom the girl­friend had been speak­ing found his effects and in the midst of them was the “cheap neck­lace”. The doc­tor decided to open the neck­lace and what did she see?  Writ­ten on the left side of the heart, “Will You”, writ­ten on the right side of the heart, “Marry Me.”

That par­tic­u­lar story line ended right there. But can you imag­ine the anguish of the girl­friend if she was given the neck­lace?  Or if she wasn’t given the neck­lace? Either way, her unful­filled expec­ta­tions would be what she would have to live with vs. what was so.

All that really hap­pened was that her boyfriend of 8 years had not yet pro­posed on Valentine’s Day morn­ing, when she was hop­ing and expect­ing he would.  SHE was the one who had it mean some­thing.  And there’s noth­ing wrong with want­ing to get mar­ried (sorry guys who’ve been drag­ging your feet – this is not a “get out of jail card” for you to jus­tify foot drag­ging).  It’s just that we need to take respon­si­bil­ity, each and every one of us, for our expec­ta­tions and own them as our expec­ta­tions. They are not our part­ners’ expec­ta­tions, our pets’ expec­ta­tions, our boss’s expec­ta­tions. They are OURS.  If our expec­ta­tions are not being ful­filled or met, we can decide if we wish to pro­ceed or not. As Ein­stein said, the def­i­n­i­tion of insan­ity is to keep doing the same thing over and over and expect­ing to get a dif­fer­ent result.  (Radomir reminds us of this often too, in his blog posts). Prob­a­bil­ity wise, a dif­fer­ent result might be got­ten at some point but is that good enough for liv­ing a ful­filled life?

What should the girl­friend in the show have done?  I can’t say – I wasn’t there dur­ing the times she was dis­ap­pointed pre­vi­ously, dur­ing the talks they had, dur­ing the wed­dings she men­tioned she attended with him where she cried her eyes out nos­tal­gi­cally think­ing of HER non-wedding.  I do know that she could have taken respon­si­bil­ity for her role in their rela­tion­ship. She could have quit blam­ing him. She could have grown up and decided if it was worth wait­ing for some­one 8 years, even if you loved them, if mar­riage was your ideal and not his.

I do know she could have decided what was really impor­tant to her and taken that as the credo by which to live her life. This way, when Valentine’s day came along and no ring showed up, there would be no drama, no run­ning out of the build­ing in a frenzy.  Just an abil­ity to be with what was so — that what was impor­tant to her was not there in their rela­tion­ship.  And finally, then she could have opened the neck­lace, or not, while the man was still alive.

I wish you a guilt-free, calorie-free, expectation-free Valentine’s Day!

Sara

Click HERE for The Rela­tion­ship Saver, The Fast Track Man­ual for Sav­ing your Relationship.

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Meanings And Arguments

Have you ever found that after argu­ing with some­one about some­thing for some time you real­ize that both of you are actu­ally talk­ing about the same thing, but express­ing it in a dif­fer­ent way? If we were to look into the causes of these argu­ments the first thing that comes to mind is mis­un­der­stand­ing the mean­ing that your argu­ing part­ner had in mind.

The begin­ning of wis­dom is call­ing things by their right names, Con­fu­cius said. Well, what are those “right names”? Who says what the “right” mean­ing of the word is? Dic­tio­nary? Yes, that’s at least one way to start. But if we look a lit­tle deeper into it we will see that words them­selves have no mean­ings; we give them mean­ings, and sup­pos­edly the mean­ing that most of peo­ple agree with is recorded in a dic­tio­nary. That’s all very well, but when did you look for some of the fol­low­ing words in the dic­tio­nary to see what is the gen­er­ally accepted mean­ing for democ­racy, cap­i­tal­ism, abuse, gov­ern­ment, respon­si­bil­ity, integrity, love, hap­pi­ness, rela­tion­ship, mar­riage, lis­ten­ing, hear­ing, truth, etc.?

And how often do you actu­ally check if the per­son you argue with gives the same mean­ing to words, con­cepts, behav­iors and events that you do? Mis­un­der­stand­ing means “a fail­ure to under­stand some­thing cor­rectly” accord­ing to a dic­tio­nary. But what “cor­rectly” means is not the same for you and your part­ner. Unless you know what the cor­rect mean­ing is for what­ever you are argu­ing about with your part­ner, you may be argu­ing until you turn blue in the face talk­ing about dif­fer­ent things and try­ing to prove your point, at the same time not under­stand­ing how he pos­si­bly can­not agree with you, etc.

I have a self-proclaimed neo-con friend who is very hon­est, gen­er­ous, eth­i­cal and moral guy, and I am some­where more on the left if I must choose sides with what I hope are the same per­sonal attrib­utes I have given him. We, of course, kept argu­ing about pol­i­tics, and nat­u­rally dis­agreed about almost every­thing until at one point I sug­gested that we define the terms we were talk­ing about: such as free­dom, democ­racy, cap­i­tal­ism, social­ism, gov­ern­ment and such. What we found out was that in our argu­ment we were talk­ing about com­pletely dif­fer­ent things con­sis­tent with the mean­ings each one of us gave to those words. No won­der we argued ad infini­tum. Once we agreed on the terms we were using, we, to our sur­prise, agreed about everything.

Think about what it is that you repeat­edly argue with your part­ner and try to dis­tin­guish the terms that you dis­agree on, for instance trust, being heard, being rec­og­nized, affirmed, taken care of, respect, fun, hurt. What does it mean for you and him to be a man/masculine or a woman/feminine? What do you mean when you say things like you never lis­ten to me, or you talk too much?

Aware­ness exer­cise: The moment you start dis­agree­ing with your part­ner, start look­ing for pos­si­ble words, phrases and con­cepts that may have a dif­fer­ent mean­ing for him/her. Take time out and hon­estly ask with­out any expec­ta­tions what it means for him/her.

Next time we will talk about other rea­sons we may dis­agree. Until then please prac­tice find­ing out the mean­ings oth­ers have about the points of your disagreements.

Radomir

http://www.RelationshipSaver.org/

http://www.GamelessRelationship.com/

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