Valentine’s Day is fast upon us and it is not all roses and chocolates for everyone! Let’s face it, like it or leave it Valentine’s Day is packed with a punch – understanding expectations – and for many these expectations are misunderstood, not met, and lead to disappointment. Differing expectations arise when we assume we understand what another person wants, or what they expect from us, and sometimes our assumptions can take us down a road that leads to misunderstanding, unhappiness, and anger or frustration. Did you know Feb 15th, the day after Valentine’s Day, is the day that kick’s off divorce season?
It is no secret that Valentine’s Day can hold meaning for some and not others, but what can be secret is how you approach it. So, how do you navigate expectations with your significant other when for some it feels like consumer propaganda and for others the fate of their relationship hangs in the balance? It is simple – get curious.
We are all born curious and as we get older, and busier, most of us no longer are curious in our relationships with others. Rather, we assume and expect that we know everything about our partners and then get angry when we aren’t understood or don’t understand them. This Valentine’s Day give yourself, and your loved one, the gift of curiosity so you can connect and honor expectations, together.
- Get CURIOUS: Ask yourself, what does Valentine’s mean to me? How do I want to celebrate it? What are my expectations of my partner? If you aren’t clear about what you want or what the expectations are with yourself, then how can you expect your partner to be clear about them? You will never be happy if you don’t know what that happiness looks like.
- BE PRESENT TO LISTEN: When discussing your plans together make sure that you stop what you are doing so that you can be PRESENT and focused on your partner to listen and ABSORB what they are saying. If you aren’t listening then you will never learn what your partner’s expectations are.
- CHOOSE TO LISTEN WITHOUT JUDGMENT: We all have that little voice in our head that likes to judge self and others, and it competes with our ability to listen. As you discuss your plans with your partner, turn down that voice and be open to listening without judgment to how they want to celebrate, what they think of the day and what it means to them. It may be different to what you were thinking and that’s OK. The goal here is to listen and learn so you can better understand your partner’s expectations and perspective so you can move forward together.
- ASK OPEN QUESTIONS: The easiest way to understand other people’s expectations is to be curious and ask. Focus on using open questions, questions that begin with who, what, where, when, and how. ‘Why’ can often carry judgment depending on how it is used, especially when emotion is involved so we caution against it. Open questions allow you to open up a conversation and learn. They also help keep the focus away from self and on others, which is the goal – learning what Valentine’s Day means to your significant other. Open questions also support you in testing your assumptions, which we all make especially with our loved ones. If you find yourself struggling with asking open questions, just focus on HOW and WHAT questions. “What are your feelings about Valentine’s Days?” “How do you want to celebrate?”
It doesn’t have to be hard to honor the expectations of that special person in your life. We all want to be seen, heard and understood, especially in our intimate relationships. The only way you can do that is with curiosity.