By Terry Alburger, Life Engagement Coordinator

Have you ever heard someone say, “My life did not turn out the way I expected?” I think this is a fairly common sentiment.

But think about it. Life is filled with uncertainty by definition. Each day you awaken, you have a clean slate. How it fills is only in part dictated by you.

Much as we try, we cannot control things that happen to us during the course of a lifetime. Challenges are going to face us; obstacles are going to come our way. If we expected we would have a perfect life, we would be highly disappointed. This is the problem with expectations.

To go into any given situation with a preconceived notion of how it will go is not wise, nor is it realistic. We don’t have crystal balls; we cannot predict the future. Certainly, we hope for the best in any given situation, but sometimes it is wise to prepare for the worst.

Relationships are that way, be they between husband and wife, parent and child or friends. All relationships are subject to this obstacle. You have an idea of how a given day or event should go. You plan it; you see it in your head; you have high expectations for a fun-filled day or event. But the problem is, the other person cannot see into your head. So, for them, their expectation of the day or event is likely completely different from yours. This can lead to hurt feelings and disappointment.

The key to avoiding this is to communicate. The only possibility that expectations can succeed is if they are shared. Communication is a two-way street. Both parties need to be on the same page and share the same vision. And most days, the end result is a compromise between the expectations of both people involved.

The mistake many people make is to take things personally when they are not intended as such. If you have what you think is a “great idea” and share it with your partner but are met with resistance, the natural tendency is to get defensive or annoyed. If you can look past that gut reaction and think about why that person reacted as they did, you might see things in a different light.

As always, open conversation is the best recourse. Perhaps you could explain why your plan meant so much to you, perhaps you could be clearer in expressing your ideas. And perhaps you could ask why your partner did not share your enthusiasm. Open dialog leads to enlightenment and to peace.

Always keep in mind that a friend, spouse or family member would never be out to hurt or reject you, and remember that their expectations are different. Someone who works hard during the week may just want a day to put their feet up and “chill” on the weekend, while someone else may want to take advantage of a day off to get things done. Each person’s perception of a day off is vastly different. Rather than take things personally, start a conversation to understand why.

Schemes, passions and plans are wonderful when shared by both parties involved. But remember, that is not always the way. And remember, there is always a reason. Successful relationships are always built on caring for your partner’s needs at least as much as your own, if not more. In the big scheme of things, the important thing is the relationship, not what you do or don’t do on any given day. To quote one of my favorite musicians, John Lennon, “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” Enjoy and appreciate it.

Terry Alburger is the Life Engagement Coordinator at Brittany Pointe Estates, an Acts Retirement-Life Community in Lansdale, Pennsylvania. This column was published online by Montgomery Media on July 13, 2017.