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Showing posts with label expectations. Show all posts
Showing posts with label expectations. Show all posts

Friday, January 17, 2020

Shutting off the drama: Backing away from conflict and reorienting.

The holidays--and maybe just other times for no specific occasion--can be good for getting reacquainted with family and friends.  If we live out of town, we might choose to fly or drive in and see family and friends we haven't in a while.   If we live in town, we might make it a point to get together with those whom we haven't seen in a while to celebrate OR we might entertain family and/or friends who fly into town to see us.   Most of the time that is good thing.  Family and friends are the ones that be supportive of us, that can re-energize us just by virtue of their presence.    However, at times the hope we have the supportive or re-energizing can instead feel like burdensome or draining.  It doesn't necessarily have to be an open conflict, just personality differences can be enough.

I have written about this general topic matter in at least two posts.

  • Boxing others into our expectations.   This is where I discussed the concept of how we expect certain people to fit roles in our life: Close friend, close sibling, supportive parent, our co-parent, etc.  In a way, in our mind we 'box' them into the expectation of what role we feel they should play.  We then base our interaction with them on our expectations of their role.  This can lead to frustration. The whole idea is that instead of getting frustrated that they aren't meeting our expectations, it is good to pause, reassess them and the situation and adjust our expectations and interactions with them in a way that better reflects reality.  In other words reorient ourselves relative to them to a place that is healthy for us.  In other words, we don't have to necessarily remove them from our lives, but we may limit what we share with them, for example.
  • Dealing with others: People will get along with you IF they want to.  This is where I discuss the idea that while you can help facilitate positive interactions with others, it is ultimately up to others to decide if they want to get along with you.  If they really want to get along with you, they will tend to look for opportunities to do so (and overlook things they don't necessarily 'love' about you).  If they don't want to get along, they will look for reasons or excuses for not liking or getting along with you.  Basically, don't take it personal or try to force it.

We might realize people aren't fitting into our expectations of them. We might be getting frustrated and have to reorient ourselves and how we interact or deal with them Or in some cases how we don't.  However, from what I've observed (and experienced myself), that usually is a process that can take time, a willingness to see and accept a reality we don't like, and in some cases being deliberate.

  • When we are close to a situation, it can be very easy to see what we want.  In other words, a confirmation bias.  Sometimes, it just takes time to see a pattern of interaction over a extended time before we accept it.  If it is a parent for example, they may not be accepting of our choice in a spouse.  We may overlook comments that would point to that reality and instead glom onto any comment or indication that we think points otherwise.  Like a parent might show interest in our spouse, but might be doing it out of courtesy rather than acceptance. It might take time be able to see past what we want to see.
  • Sometimes a realization might be so profound that it take a while to process it.  That could take to form of being huge and/or emotionally demanding.  For example, take the case of a parent whose health is failing.  We might have been close to that parent and that closeness is no longer there.  We may need for our sick mom to be the warm, compassionate person she's always been and counted on.  However, she might be in a different place, focusing her energies on coming to terms with failing health.   It may take us a while to realize the extent of her failing health and effectively disentangle ourselves of the level of dependence we've had on her.

  • No matter how much want, hope for or expected a different type of relationship than what is, it may not ever happen. People have room to grown and there are things you can do to encourage a closer relationship to a sibling, child, friend, or whomever.   However, at the end of the day, you cannot force someone to be different than who they are or what they are capable of.   At some point, instead of conflicting with them on whom you hope or expected them to be for you, it is just time to accept the type of relationship that both of you are capable of.  That maybe bittersweet, but as a brother once said, "A half of loaf of better than no bread".  Just make sure you can accept and have the ingredients that you can afford for half a loaf.
  • We have to be willing to see a relationship for what it is (and isn't).  I always wanted a close relationship with my dad, but it never really developed.  I think he wanted to be decent father that could be emotionally open, but he didn't really have a good example to emulate as he was bounced around in the foster system. Also, he struggled with his own issues, including alcoholism.  He did the best that he could given the example(s) he had to follow and had his moments.  I saw and accepted that he couldn't be this close parent that I could confide my insecurities and flaws to.  I saw that we could get along and I could help him out and vice versa.  Though disappointed, that was something I could work with as I was willing to be realistic.

  • When we are reorienting our expectations and perspective it is easy to fall back into old patterns.  If we are the one pushing a friendship or relationship we may wonder if the other party is really invested in it or not.  If we are finding ourselves conflicting with a family member, we may want to have a better relationship, but we just wanting it and interacting with them as we always have just lead more frustration.  Sometimes, no matter bothered by backing off from them for a while, we may need to do that and let the situation sort it out.  This can and often should be quietly stepping back.  In other words, letting the situation organically reveal itself as to how to proceed.   They may surprise us after this time and find that they want a closer/better relationship.  However, we may find that the relationship that was to be just needed some space to develop.
  • When we are reorienting our expectations and perspective, it is easy to hang onto the frustration/disappointment.  If we are committed to reorienting our relationships with and expectations of another to a more healthy place, we have to get rid of or re-channel the frustration.  We have to remind ourselves that even though we 'signed up' for a different type relationship with another, that they may not have 'signed up' for the same.  We may have thought that a friend we hang out and do things with would be a good person to personally confide in on a situation.  Over time we may come to realize he or she is not the right person to confide in or relate to on it.  Our friend just not be capable of being there for us in the way we hoped, but we didn't realize it initially.  That's not specifically the friend's fault, it is just a limitation.  We have to deliberately remind ourselves of this realization or understanding until we have reoriented our friendship to a healthier place.
When our expectations of others don't meet reality, there is a good chance we will conflict and there will be drama.  Sometimes we just have to step away for a bit. limit our interaction with them until our expectations come into line with the reality of the relationship, and adjust what we what we feel we can offer if necessary.  Everyone wants close family and friends.  Most people don't want conflict or drama, but sometimes it happens despite our best intentions.  Sometimes we just have to step back and 'shut off the drama' for a while until everyone is in a better place and move forward from there.  That maybe an unsatisfying reality, but we know as adults that we may not always get what we want, but that as the Rolling Stones wrote, "but if you try sometime, you might get what you need.".

Just may thoughts for the day and a follow-up to another couple posts.

Piece out.

- Rich

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Being boxed into other's expectations: Thoughts on

In a prior blog, called Boxing others into our expectations, I wrote about the tendency of placing expectations on others that we not necessarily realistic.  In a way, it was seeing others through the lens of our expectations--or more likely the needs of what we 'need' for them to be to us.  In it I had unrealistic expectations of family.  I thought the family member should be more loyal, have more empathy and just generally behave more like my expectation of 'family'.  Once I accepted that the family member was who they were, I realized it really wasn't personal.  Who they were was more about what they were capable than about how they felt about me.  So, I stopped stressing about the relationship so much.  Anger, bitterness, appeals to them as 'family', etc. gradually and mostly ebbed as I stopped boxing this person into my expectation of what 'family' should be like.

In "It's just you and me and we just disagree...", I touched upon the other side of the coin.  That is, when you aren't someone who others think or expect you are (or should be).  I had been talking to someone whom I met at my daughter's skating lessons for about a month.  Anyway, one day she just started being critical of me for what reason I don't know.  Anyway, I was the same person I was when I first talked to her, but somewhere she'd developed an expectation of who I should be or impression of who I was.  After a time, apparently that expectation or impression didn't match up with my reality? (That's the closest I can come?).  Anyway, I was able to detach from her negativity towards me as I knew I was the same person she had met on day one.   Essentially, I refused to let her box me into whom she thought or expected that I was or thought I should be.  A more down to earth way of describing the situation is that "she didn't get me".  That's okay, we aren't necessarily entitled to being completely understood, but it is important if we commit to someone and them to us, that we attempt to understand them.

As we know, successful relationships (family, friends, spouse, etc) are based on communication.   Sometimes we don't always communicate effectively whom we are and sometimes the other party isn't able (or willing) to see whom we are.  Sometimes the difference between  able and willing is clouded.  For example, the other party believes they are willing to keep an open mind on us, but they have an unrecognized block.  It could be a relationship or hurt or disappointments in the past that clouds their objectiveness.   But, I digress, if I was taking the side of the one who would be 'boxed' into expectations, these are types of questions I could ask:
  • Did I not express/reveal myself effectively (unintentionally)?
    • Sharing oneself is a gradual process.  In other words, it is not something that can (or should) be done in a matter of weeks or even months. 
      • People who are interested in you will tend to fill in the blanks when absent information.
      • They may tend to fill in the blanks based on their own experiences.
    • Sometimes due to sub-conscience blocks of my own, I may avoid sharing parts of myself.
      • For example, if I have hidden trust issues, I may almost subconsciously pause in revealing parts of my personality.
      • For example, if I have shame issues, I may on some level, close off certain parts of of my life.
  • Have I intentionally been cautious about revealing myself (intentional)?
    • If I'm unsure of how the other party will take a certain aspect of my personality or self, I might tend to tread lightly rather than easily express that part of myself.
    • If I've been hurt before, do I want to risk revealing myself only to be hurt again (and have to maybe do it over again)?
  • Does the other party have the time or energy to get to know me?
    • Sometimes, when either or both--time or energy--are absent, the other party may not be easily able to get to know me.
    • I may have to take the initiative and reveal myself better (if the relationship is important to me).
  • Does the other party even want to get to know me?
    • Are they comfortable with close relationships or do they prefer arm's length distance relationships in which they can comfortable control or keep their own self hidden?
    • Have they placed me in an a 'sort of' friend box vs. others in their circle (and are not wanting to invest much in getting to know me)?

In a 12 step or recovery program, those questions would be considered "my side of the street".  After assessing my role in or feelings about a relationship, I have to step aside and consider the relationship.  If after dealing with my side of the street, the other party is still trying to box me into their own expectations, I have to consider how I want to handle it.
  • Am I going to let myself be bothered by what they expect or think about me? If so,
    • Do I want to work to clear up any misconceptions or misunderstanding they might have about me?
    • Do I find a way to accept that perhaps they are incapable of understanding me?
  • Will I decide that it's not worth the trouble?
    • Will I be myself in dealing with them and let the chips fall where they may?
    • Will I step back from the situation and the expectations place on me?


Applying questions like that to my own life, I've come to realize:
  • I can't please everyone and I can't base my life on living up to the expectations of others.
  • If a relationship is important I can try to help the other party understand me.  If it isn't I can just let it go and understand that not everyone will 'get me'.
  • If someone has expectations of me or who I am that are unrealistic for me, I can express that point.  But, I can't control them and I can't spend my life being worried or stressed out about it.

So, there you have it and the song below is sort of an extreme response to being boxed into the expectations of others.  I'd don't necessarily advocate that point of view, but I had to put it in there anyway.


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Boxing others into our expectations

I'm not sure if I wrote on this previously.  If I have, please forgive me.  But, a number of years ago, I was upset and even angry with a family member.  I expected this person to empathize with me or take my side as it related to the end of a relationship.  In other words, "be family" as I saw it.   As often is the case, in hindsight, my side of the (relationship) story was just that--my side.  In other words, I wasn't completely in the right, but wasn't completely in the wrong either.  In any case, at the time I didn't need a pious lecture from family, but instead a supportive ear.  That is to say, I wasn't in the best place at the time.   I could have used the support (or at least lack of explicit criticism).  Just a weak "I hear you" would have been sufficient.  However, the family member was too obtuse to what I needed or was still too sore at a bad interaction that we'd had previously to "be family".

I believe when we are open to it, time and life experience can give us a better perspective on people and relationships.  The situation I described above is an example of that.  I realized that I had expectations of "how family should be" and realized that I was boxing the family member into that expectation.   In other words, expecting the family member to show a side to personality which had never evidenced itself or been implied.   In short, based on previous interactions with the member,  I had an unrealistic expectation for what I saw to be 'support'.  In a way, it didn't matter if it was fair or not for the family member to have not provided 'support'.  What mattered was my expectations.  My expectations were inconsistent with the personality of the family member.

Instead of getting angry and 'punishing' the family member for not meeting my (unrealistic) expectations, I came to understand that I needed to get my expectations more in line with reality.  Once I accepted the nature of the person, I could decide how to proceed with them without being let down, disappointed, upset or angered.  My expectations were getting in the way of how the relationship could or should be.  Anyway, after consideration, I decided to exercise caution when engaging that family member.  In other words, put myself out there or open up to that person to the extent that would be safe given the limitations of our relationship.  This allowed me to continue the relationship free of anger or resentment.  Now perhaps I was disappointed in realizing the limitations of the relationship, but I was also happy to realize serenity to in the matter.

Essentially, I stopped trying to box the family member into my expectations, but chose instead to let the relationship flow naturally.

I call the concept: "Boxing others into our expectations." because the way I see it, when we have expectations of people that don't match the reality of our interaction, there is a tendency to want to fit the person into a box called "Expectations".  This can take two forms:

  • Manipulation
    • This is where we try to force, cajole, bribe, pressure or otherwise squeeze another person into meeting our expectations.
    • Figuratively we are trying to squeeze another person into our box.  
      • We may find a way to force them into our expectations box with enough pressure, but if it is an unnatural fit, the expectations box will not contain them.
        • The relationship will be forced and may be a fraud.
        • The relationship in all likelihood will not withstand too many bumps and when a big enough bump is hit, the relationship will explode out of the box.  When it does explode out of the box it will not be pretty either.
      • The person may not fit into our expectations box.
        • In the process of trying to force them into it we will damage the relationship with them (sometimes permanently).
        • When they we can't put them in our expectations box, we will be subject to disappointment, resentment, anger and possibly despair.
  • Delusion/Denial
    • This is where an objective look at situation would reflect that the other party is NOT meeting our expectations of our relationship.
    • Instead of accepting that the other isn't meeting our expectations, we imagine that they are meeting our expectations.  That is to say, we see our relationship to another as fitting into the expectations box, when in reality it is at best just partially in the box.
      • We see our expectations being met when they aren't or we deny that they aren't being met, when they aren't.
      • An example is when we see someone as a friend because we believe "we have so much in common".  In reality, they might be more of an acquaintance or a 'friend of a friend'.  Due to circumstances we may tend to run into this person a lot and they may be openly 'polite' to or even spend time around us for the sake of the group or circumstance.  However, when outside the group, the person may badmouth us.  We may choose to 'believe' they are our friend if we don't have many friends or if we have a tendency to want to seek approval.
      • One risk here is the other person may use the situation to take advantage of us.  For example, if they see us longing for a friendship where one doesn't exist, they may take advantage of us financially or otherwise in return for declaring to be our friend.
      • Another risk is of humiliation.  We may ultimately find ourselves humiliated by the one taking advantage of us or among others who are observing the one-sided relationship.

So how do we avoid boxing others into our expectations.
  • We make an honest assessment of others.  That is of their personality, of their strengths, of their shortcomings.  We don't to build others into something that they aren't or something that they aren't capable of.
  • We make an honest assessment of ourselves.  That is of our wants, desires and biases.  We don't want any of these getting in the way of assessing our relationship with another. 
  • We realize that our relationship with others is not fully in our control.  While we have some control over what we say, think or do (our side of the street), we ultimately don't have control over what others say, think or do (their side of the street).

So what is the takeaway:
  • It is reasonable to know what you want in a relationship with another.
  • It is reasonable to know your bottom line in a relationship with another.
    • What is healthy for you.
    • What you are willing to 'accept' in return for your participation.
  • Just because you want certain 'benefits' in that relationship, doesn't mean that they will be present.
    • The other party may not know be capable of meeting that 'expectation'.
      • Something in their background makes them deficient--for example, they can't relate to your struggling financially as they never have.
      • They have never learned how to be a 'good friend', 'good parent' or 'good sibling' as they never had a good model/circumstance to learn that.
    • The other party may not be willing to meet that 'expectation'.
      • They may have made a perfectly reasonable assessment and determined that the cost of meeting the expectation is too high.
      • They may be too selfish and be one who looks to take from relationships without giving in return.
  • Be honest about what they can give and what you can give.  Just like you would or should only take what you are comfortable with losing when gambling, it may be wise to have a similar strategy with regard to relationships.
    • Do not try to expect something of another that they can't or won't give.
    • Be willing to give what you are comfortable giving in a relationship with little or no expectations in return.
    • Be willing to give what you are honestly capable of giving with little or no expectation in return.

These are just a few of the principles I've learned and while they may not work for everyone, they work for me.  So, take note of them and use them (or not) as you find beneficial.  The way I see it:

2 Corinthians 9:7English Standard Version (ESV)

 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

If that philosophy or way of life is good enough for my higher power, it is good enough for me in how I handle all my affairs, including relationships.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Faith-based expectations: Hope meets Entitlement

I was talking to a friend today about faith and expectations we have for our lives.  His thoughts were that in approaching our faith and our Higher Power (God), we should be modest in our expectations but be prayerful for what we'd like.  As I thought about for a minute it and occurred to me what he meant:  Entitlement vs. Hope.  That is to say, we should be modest and not be demanding or feel 'deserving' of an excessive amount from our Higher Power--entitlement.  However, it is reasonable for us to hope that we are blessed with good fortune in our lives.  Without even thinking about it, I believe we can take some of the following as entitlements to expect of our higher power:

  • Good or excellent health.
  • Good or problem-free childhood/adulthood.
  • Good job.
  • Good transportation.
  • Good friends/relationships.
  • Good entertainment/times.
  • Good place to live.
  • Good things.

I could summarize all of these things into one phrase: A good life.  Now, in most cases, there is nothing wrong with wanting these things.  That is provided that they DON'T get in the way of our faith (as we understand it) and our civil and moral responsibilities.  In fact, is quite reasonable to want each of these.  Anyway, my friend was saying, inherently there is nothing necessarily wrong with wanting, wishing for, or praying for things we'd like or want or want to happen.  However, we should be careful to avoid slipping into an attitude of 'entitlement'.  When we slip into that attitude we risk the following:
  • Loss of motivation (laziness)
    • If we are feel like we are entitled, I believe we are less likely to put in the work for that which we feel entitled to.
    • This speaks to the old saying that "God helps those who help themselves".
  • Loss of faith
    • If we feel entitled to some or all of the above list just by virtue of being, when we don't get them to the extent that we feel we should, we will tend to feel our faith drained.  In other words, we will tend feel like "He doesn't care" or "He let us down".
      • In a sense we are playing the role of 'God'.  That is to say, behaving as if we know more than our Creator what is best for us or care more than he does.
    • Unfortunately, when our life doesn't go the way we think it should, i.e., "He hasn't provided", we are more likely to decide that we can't count on Him.  
      • This creates a vicious cycle were we tend to exclude our Higher Power and "Lean on our own understanding", resulting typically in less good fortune.  This tends to cause us to blame Him and further exclude Him and the negative cycle continues.
  • (Unhealthy or improper) anger
    • When things don't go the way, we may ask "why He failed us", instead of realizing that we--humanity-have played a role in our own individual and societal failings.  
    • These feelings can lead to poisonous resentment and anger.
    • We need to realize, not everything is going to go 'according to script', but that He usually helps us get what we need.  
    • We need to realize that there are many much less fortunate.

Now let's talk about Hope.  What exactly is hope as I see it.

  • Is usually a health attitude.  
  • Is typically an understanding that we won't always get what we want, but that we will likely get what we need.  
  • Is something that when exercised right is followed by proactive steps in working towards what we want or need.  
  • Is an understanding that both we and our Higher Power play a role in working towards what we want or need.  
  • Is a something that when exercised right is a sense that we aren't 'owed' things, but instead 'blessed' with things.

Ultimately, I guess my takeaway from our conversation was that we need to focus less on what we think we should have, more on what we do have and understand He will provide what we need.  That is to realize that it is not our role to 'expect' or 'demand' of our Higher Power, but instead work along side Him with His guidance to help us meet our needs.  Unfortunately, as I write this, I realize it, like most good advice in life, is easier given than followed.  But, nonetheless...

--  Rich

Friday, February 24, 2017

Grief doesn't care what is proper, part 1

I wrote a bit about this subject in a previous blog called Letting go and letting God - The timing and art of letting go. I had touched upon many aspects of loss and grief including what is socially acceptable grief.  So, I'm not going to visit it here too much except to expand upon that point.

I believe society seems to have certain expectations for grief.
  • What grief is suppose to look like.  That is the form it is suppose to take.
  • What is an appropriate amount of time to grieve
  • The people you are or are not expected to grieve for.
  • Whom you are allowed to grieve for.
  • Whom you are not allowed to grieve for.
When we break or don't follow those expectations, we can risk rejection, scorn or worse.  But, I've discovered over time that grief is a strange beast.  It will follow its own rules and will ultimately bow to no one.  Now, we can sometimes be shamed into how and when we show it or don't show it, but ultimately that is just window dressing the hide what our soul feels.

Let me break down what I see as aspects of grief.  I will touch on what I see as society's expectations for grief (and in some cases how we deviate from it)

  • Grief's appearance or form.
    • What many have been taught that grief is suppose to look like.
      • Deep sadness
      • Crying
      • Serious demeanor.
    • What it can look like.
      • Relief 
        • Suffering has ended for someone who had been long suffering.
        • That we are no longer required to watch helplessly while they suffer.
        • Our fear of being hurt by them is finally over.
      • Anger at others 
        • People let the one we are grieving down.  That people weren't there for our loved one in time of his/her need.
        • Higher Power seems to have let us down by allowing our loved one to pass for seemingly no good reason.
      • Anger - If they have left behind a messy circumstance for us to clean up or deal with or they didn't take care of themselves 
        • That they were careless or reckless in their lifestyle.
        • That they recklessly did not account for their own needs.  Not preparing for an eventuality. 
        • That they neglected those whom they left behind.
          • Didn't make proper preparations for dependents/survivor needs.
          • They were more focused on their own reckless behavior than emotional and financial needs of those left behind.
      • Humor 
        • Laughter - That may seems inappropriate, but is really our way of coping with a circumstance that is so intense.
        • Sarcasm - If the person we are 'mourning' for has mistreated us for a long time, it may be hard to feel much besides it. 
      • Emptiness/Numbness
        • Loss is too profound to accept or to have sink in.
        • We are focused on survival after the loss.
  • Timetable of grief
    • Immediate timetable
      • We are supposed to have it all packaged and delivered in a week or less in some cases and be back to work.  That is make arrangements, pull together a funeral and move as if nothing I had to do this with each parent.  Arranged/buried and back to work.
      • In some cases, we are allowed more time, but we still have to pull it together in a few months at best and be productive.
      • Family and friends allow us to be sad or upset.  If it is a child, we are given more time to openly and painfully weep/mourn.
      • This is the time when those around us will offer to help the most as it is fresh in everyone's mind.
    • The near term past immediacy.
      • In most cases, we are supposed to have put the lost behind us and have moved on in our daily lives and be productive.
      • Many/most people will start to shut off listening to or wanting to hear about our grief. 
        • They don't know what to say, especially if they haven't been hit by it.
        • They have their own stresses as well.
        • Usually, they will be polite about it and 'listen' anyway.
      • Counseling is accepted in this term.
    • Longer term (year or two)
      • Willingness to listen to our grief becomes rarer and rarer, especially from those who aren't close to us, but even with those who are close to us.  Losing a child is a situation which we are probably allowed more leeway on being listened to.
      • Counseling is accepted in this term, but we are expected to be well on our way to coming to terms with the loss.
      • Our daily lives are not expected to be impacted, no matter how we may feel on a given date about our loss.  Anniversary of a death is a big deal to us, but to our employer for example, they don't expect any impact.
    • Long-term (years)
      • We are expected to have adjusted, coped, or have come to terms.
      • Most people have tuned out our grief by this point and may even tell you that it's time to move on.  They may 'humor' it if they aren't burnt out on it if it is the loss of a close family member.
This is a heavy read, so I will continue this blog post in another part to be published.  But for today, I will leave with this thought, if we try to deny grief its proper role in our lives, I believe grief will punish us in another form, often in an addictive form such as alcoholism. Until later (probably tomorrow)...

See: Grief doesn't care what is proper, part 2

The original recorded version of this song.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Is it too much to ask?: Surrendering and expectations

A had a discussion with a friend one time, actually it was a group discussion.  Anyway, we were discussing expectations in marriage.  Part of the discussion centered on the idea that tensions in marriage are largely caused by unmet expectations.  If a marriage is beset by a history of addiction or codependence of any sort, it is hard for one or both partners to be 'present' in the marriage.  As as result, it's hard for one or both to meet each other's expectations. 

Bearing this in mind, a question came to mind: Given such problems, when are marriages worth fighting for?  I believe if you have kids together, and especially if a marriage is started on a friendship, then perhaps such a marriage is worth fighting for.  Anyway say you've answered that question--is it worth fighting for--in the affirmative, the follow-up question is what do you have to do to make it at least livable, if not thriving?  I've always thought one of the keys to success or at least tolerability of an imperfect marriage is surrendering expectations.  That doesn't mean you don't push for what is important to you in the marriage.  What it means is that after you've expressed your marital concerns to your spouse, you surrender them to your Higher Power. 

From the AA Big Book

"My serenity is inversely proportional to my expectations. The higher my expectations of other people are, the lower is my serenity. I can watch my serenity level rise when I discard my expectations. But then my 'rights' try to move in, and they, too, can force my serenity level down. I have to discard my 'rights,' as well as my expectations, by asking myself, How important is it, really? How important is it compared to my serenity, my emotional sobriety'? And when I place more value on my serenity and sobriety than on anything else, I can maintain them at a higher level - at least for the time being."
Alcoholics Anonymous,
p. 452


We tend to have significant expectations of those close to us and we often find ourselves getting disappointed.  In pondering that, the following occurred to me is:
  • God imbued me with free will, but He also imbued others in my life with free will as well.
  • How can we expect others to necessarily live up to our expectations, given their free will when given our own free will we don't live up to the expectation of our Creator?
  • In other words, the free will we cherish and leads to us disappointing God is the same free will that prevents others from meeting our expectations.

In closing, a little realism in expectations and a little understanding of the way we disappoint others--including our Higher Power--can go a long way towards helping a marriage.  If we are able to better see our own faults, we can be more realistic accepting that perhaps our spouse isn't perfect either.

Just some thoughts...