Why I’m lowering my expectations this Valentine’s Day

How’s that for a painfully unromantic Valentine’s post title for you?

Bear with me, I promise it isn’t as bad as it sounds.

It’s occurred to me recently that when it comes to love, we might all be working towards an unattainable goal.  We’re inundated with songs, books and movies filling our heads with notions of soulmates, everlasting love and happily ever after.  Meanwhile, the majority of us are going out of our minds wondering why we’re constantly bickering about towels left on the bathroom floor and whose turn it is to put the bins out.

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What happened to this eternal domestic bliss that we were promised?  Where is our happy ending?

This Valentine’s Day, Mr Mess and I will be celebrating the 13th anniversary of the start of our relationship and we are building up to our tenth marriage anniversary later this year.  It is not a secret that it has been a rocky road.

For a long time, I thought that it was a problem with us.  Our marriage was broken, we weren’t compatible, we just didn’t work.  After many self-help books (thank you Andrew Marshall) and a lot of deep conversations with Mr M, I started to think it might be a matter of perspective.  Maybe the reason we’re constantly failing to meet my expectations of relationships and marriage is that we’re setting the bar far too high.

When you think about it, we demand an awful lot from our significant other.  We want to find somebody who can be our best friend, confidante, romantic partner, roommate, co-parent as well as sharing at least some of our interests and, hopefully, our sexual preferences as well.  I mean seriously, can you tell me one person in your life (not your other half) who comes even close to ticking every one of those boxes.  I certainly can’t.

In the new age of our relationship (actually the third age, but that’s a whole other story), we’re both trying to make an effort to be more accepting, more forgiving and more understanding.  Although we’re dedicated to working on our marriage and moving forward as a couple, we’ve also learnt to appreciate that we are both still individuals and we need to respect that and work with it.

We often spout romantic nonsense about unconditional love and accepting each other as they are, but honestly who actually puts that philosophy into practice?  How many of us are secretly listing the things we’d change about our partners if given the opportunity? From now on I’m determined to love Mr M, including his flaws, not just in spite of them and hopefully he can do the same for me.

Rather than basing our marriage on standards set by the society we live in, we’re trying to think outside the box and find out what works for us.  Mr Mess has now taken over as a stay-at-home Daddy, while I go out to work.  We’ve also acknowledged that we’re both pretty solitary people  and while we love spending time together, it is important that we both get a bit of alone time sometimes.  Now we make an effort every week or so to make sure each of us gets some much needed “me” time.

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Since we’ve changed our expectations of what marriage should look or feel like, I’ve certainly noticed that we seem to be a bit more solid and I am definitely more content.  By lowering my expectations in marriage, I’ve actually given myself the freedom to enjoy my relationship rather than constantly comparing it to standards we could never meet.

With our new point-of-view I am feeling more confident and hopeful for our future than I have for a long time.  I’m looking forward to seeing what the next 13 years has in store for us.

Happy Valentine’s Day everybody, however you choose to celebrate it!

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