“It just wasn’t what I was expecting! I wanted to see The Hobbit, not Lord of the Rings revised by a dumb writer!”
I was really excited for the first “Hobbit” movie. My expectations were high, along with every other Lord of the Rings fan. But when I left the theater, I wanted to start a picket line against it. I HATED it with a vengeance. THIS IS NOT THE HOBBIT!!! I WANT THE REAL THING!!!
After my rant lowered his expectations, one of my friends went to see it (out of obligation). He was okay with it. He was expecting an extremely poor movie, and it was mediocre, so he wasn’t ranting and raving.
The difference? Our expectations going into it. My expectations were really high. And I was punched down. His expectations were really low, they pretty much could ONLY go up.
Expectations can break relationships. I know a couple who, when they were first married, had a terrible time of it. The wife said she cried pretty much every day. She was expecting her new husband to change and not take as many risks. So when he didn’t change, she was disappointed.
When I first got married, I had no idea what it would be like. I knew who I was marrying. I had known him for years. So I definitely knew who he was. But I’d never been married before. Plus, we were getting married, then jumping into a life neither of us knew anything about. That’s what saved me from tears or disappointment.
“I don’t think I was what they were expecting.” This came from a young adoptee I was talking to awhile ago. After a few years of caring for him, his family had sent him away. He didn’t get along with one of his new parents. They had tried really hard to figure out “what was wrong with him” and had finally given up and parted because of “irreconcilable differences.”
The short answer was, there wasn’t really anything wrong with him. He just wasn’t like their other child. He was independent, introverted, adjusting to life in an entirely new culture, learning a new language, and had never had a family before. Of course he was different! But he wasn’t what they were expecting.
If you’re adopting or getting married or going through any major change, I wouldn’t advise setting expectations for your new life. Maybe this is pessimistic. But it has saved me a lot of times.
Regardless of what preparation you do, a whole new life or a whole new member of the family is a HUGE change. It will affect you in ways you never thought it would, in both happy and hard ways. Let them teach you. Both new spouses and new children have a history, feelings, and expectations they take for granted. Finding these expectations are one of the goals of marriage counseling and should be (I don’t know if it is) for adoption and foster training. But no amount of counseling can prepare you completely.