We all have expectations. Whether it is about our jobs, our friends, our families, our significant others, out kids (for those who have kids), where we’ll be at age 25, 30, 40, 55, etc …

Expectations in themselves can be quite complicated and there are different types of expectations: expectations of status, expectations of wealth, expectations of behavior.

Some expectations are disguised hopes.

So what have been some of my expectations? I expected to be independently wealthy (by most standards I am wealthy. Using this comparator I score in the top 1% of richest people in the world whether I use my full salary – or 80%, because I work a 4 day week – sorry, exact scoring is classified ;-) The hourly rate calculation seems a bit skewed – it is using a 1440 hour work year – which is much shorter than mine.

I expected to have a secluded laboratory / workshop in a forest hideaway (I am assembling a fairly nice workshop in the garage in Montreal though).

But, those can also be considered dreams and fantasies, more practical day to day concerns include the family (notably the spouse).

Sofia and I came with different expectations of what the other would bring to the marriage. My expectations were pretty simple: Sofia would be a good friend and companion, somebody I like to share my time with and she would be a great mother.

Sofia had rather more expectations :-(

Part of any problems between us actually boils down, in my opinion, to gender role issues. I had none for her (aside from bearing children – but this is more for technical reasons than anything else). She has lots for me. So while I do not expect her to cook, clean, wash, and iron because she is a woman and that is woman’s work. She has expectations that I will fix things, move heavy objects, take out the garbage, mow the lawn, and kill spiders because that is man’s work. (She will protest that I am being unfair ;-)

For example, when we bought our first house, after I renovated the bathroom, I did not install towel rods. I was happy hanging my towel over the shower curtain rod. Sofia was not. So she bugged me to install them. We even went to the store and bought some towel rods. Then she waited and fumed while I did nothing. Eventually, after 3 years, I think (maybe it was 4), she installed them.

Now, personally, I had no interest in installing them. I thought they were unnecessary, but if Sofia wanted to install them, then she was perfectly free to go ahead and do so. But she didn’t. At least not at first, because that was a man’s job. After all, what is the point of having a husband if he is not going to do husbandy things around the house. She might as well have been a single mom. Humph!

Maybe things would have been different if I had a Canadian born and bred wife, but mine is of Peruvian descent, so I think she has more societal gender stereotyping biases (in her defense, she did work as a lawyer for a feminist organization in Peru for several years, fighting for gender equality, against domestic violence, etc).

I feel no need to wait for Sofia to prepare me a sandwich or cook me some food. I can do that perfectly well on my own. I sew on my own buttons. I don’t iron though – I carefully dry my clothes so they are not too wrinkly, but definitely no crisp lines on my shirts and pants. Sofia dreads when it is my turn to do laundry precisely because I do not iron, and she has so many things that need ironing. I’m trying to encourage her to be more casual, but … so far … nada.

Note: My marriage is fine and this post is not to be interpreted as some repressed gripe against my dear wife, marriage, wives, husbands, or spiders in general.

[29-December-2005: fixed broken hyperlink]


Lunafish said…
Ah, yes. It is said that expectations are resentments in the wings. Relationships, no matter how wonderful always come with some hidden elements. There are things that my partner does not like to do (the dishes) and there are things I do not like to do (clean the pool)so it works out good when we like, or at least don't mind handling the tasks. I like to fix things but I don't have much strength in my hands, good aptitude but no muscle. I try to earn enough to hire those with stronger hands to do what I cannot. I outsource the jobs I can't do. My Christmas lights were installed by my "yard guy". I have learned that if something is important to me that it is my responsibility to take that to completion.

I really like it if someone will kill spiders for me. I'm not afraid of snakes but spiders make my skin crawl.
Barbara said…
I have never really given to expectations because if I do things don't get done! I change my own oil and brakes on my car, sew on buttons, cook and do laundry. There isn't anything I won't try!
Bee said…
So it would be good to iron out the "expectations" before 2 people get committed to marriage. :)
Richard said…
lunafish: I am not afraid of spiders of other creepy crawly things. I will often pick themup and let them walk on my hand. I'm trying to get my kids to do the same, but aside from ladybugs, they seem to have inherited my wife's fear of them.

barbara: good for you! I'm not sure I'd change my own brakes - something about having one of those "Oops! I just realized where those extra parts go." moments while barrelling down the highway at 100Km/h (60mph).

Bee: Very punny! Yeah, you have to be aware of what you are getting yorself into.
Bee said…
Aiya.. I was refering to myself la, Richard. Your 'chance' is over already... hehe *just kidding*

But seriously, thanks for higlighting the "differences" part... many unmarried couples overlook that.
I'm so glad you posted this. It gave me some food for thought for something that has been on my mind this week. I think that I am a lot like Sofia when it comes to presuming which jobs are the "man-ly" ones (although I admittedly have a double-standard, because I don't necessarily view the stereotypical female jobs as "women's work"). During my mom's visit last week, she pointed out that she was surprised that my husband had not repaired a hole that was punctured through the sheetrock in our upstairs hallway. (The hole has been there for several years now. *blush*) From time to time I find myself feeling angry about that hole because I feel that my husband does not care that much about our present home. (And this is true, we have another house in Nashville which he loves dearly, but he owned that home before we were married and views it as "his".) At one time I thought I might take one of those free "do-it-yourself" classes at Home Depot and learn how to repair the hole myself, but I haven't yet because I've kept telling myself that "that is a man's job" and waiting for my husband to fix it. So your post has me thinking that perhaps I will take that class now and repair that hole myself. Oh, and btw, there is another "man's" job that I am waiting for him to do: cleaning up after those rogue mice that have recently invaded our house. I may have to dig my heels in on that one. ;)
Sometimes expectations comes with great responsiblities;
a loving partner,
a filial son / daughter,
a responsible employee,
a loyal friend

most likely when the other party fails to reach the other party's expectations, disappointment comes in.
Richard said…
MIO: All people have expectations, the question is whether or not they are aware of it. I think most people are not terribly introspective and consequently do not recognize hidden expectations. Humans are creatures of habit and consequently tend to do things and accept things without really questioning them.

My favourite example is the story of a mother who in preparing the Sunday roast would trim a piece off the end.

Her little daughter asked her, "Why do you cut a piece off the end and put it next to the roast?"

"I do it because my mother used to do it" replied the mother.

“Why did she do it?” asked the little girl.

“I don’t know” replied the mother.

So they called the grandmother and asked, “Why do you always cut the end off the roast and put it next to the roast?”

She replied, “I do it because my mother used to do it.”

The great-grandmother was alive, so they called her and asked, "Why did you always cut a piece off the end of the Sunday roast?"

"Oh", replied the great-grandmother, "my roasting pan was too small, so I had to cut a piece off to make it fit."

Catherine: yes, disappointment sets in when expectations are not met. What we have to ask ourselves is: were these expectations reasonable or arbitrary? Some people argue that men and women have specific roles to play - something I normally argue against that. The only exception I (currently) accept is that women can bear children and men cannot (something I personally feel is a great injustice ;-)

Some expectations are reasonable: loyalty, honesty, and fairness would be among those.
How true this is.... I must admit that I do have expectations of men at some point. But I think it goes both ways. Many men, especially Asian men, tend to stereotype feminine roles. We are expected to cook, take care of the babies, and do all other wifey duties. On top of juggling our full time day job. I guess, it will take time before a couple can work out a way not to let their expectations get in the way of a fantastic relationship.

It should be a case where we are still emotionally and physically close, but yet at the same time, maintain our independency before we became a couple.

I would like this kind of love. COs expectations breeds disappointment - so like you, I rather do the things that I can handle myself. :)

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