Don't set the Bar too Low

low expectations deserve to be hazardous to her relationship.

post September 30, 2013



Prior to roger Banister"s breaking of the four-minute mile in 1954, it to be deemed difficult for a human being to accomplish that feat. Nearly immediately after his accomplishment, other runners join the sub-four-minute mile club. In ~ a decade, number of hundred runners had actually done what ten year previously had actually been seen as impossible. Such is the power of expectations.

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When Linda and I obtained married in 1972, ns deliberately collection my sights low. Every the far better to stop the disappointment the I meant if i hoped because that anything more than a comfortable setup in which we acquired along reasonably well and didn"t fight as well much. Talk about low expectations!

Having it was observed very few examples of growing long-term relationships, ns approached marriage somewhat unenthusiastically. Reality be told, from mine perspective, the idea of a an excellent marriage was an oxymoron. However for reasons that ns couldn"t in ~ the time rather fathom, in spite of my resistance come it, i seemed drawn to marital relationship like a moth to a flame.


My strategy for resolving this paradox to be to construct a strategy of restricted engagement. All the much better to minimize the possibilities of disappointment and suffering. Unfortunately, not just did my strategy fail to prevent disappointment, yet it left me commonly feeling resentful and also frustrated. What i hadn"t factored in come the equation to be the fact that mine head wasn"t the only part of me that was engaged. Together Blaise Pascal famously said, "The heart has actually its reasons of which factor knows nothing," and also my heart had it"s own agenda. Ultimately, that insisted on having actually its say.


While the mind looks for a comfortable and easy relationship, the heart has other concerns. That could treatment less around risk management, control, safety, security, and avoidance. That desires have to do through passion, connection, truthfulness, intimacy, aliveness and also joyfulness, experiences that exist outside of the limit of pragmatic considerations. Unless we marry because that purely valuable purposes (something the is relatively rare in modern Western culture) the desire of the heart have to be met and included in the equation. Come the degree they room not, we will certainly be unhappy and also unfulfilled nevertheless of just how much security, status, or economic success us achieve. As the speak goes, "you can"t ever get sufficient of what you yes, really don"t need."


In my case, the (inevitable) breakdown took the form of complaints the both Linda and also I directed at each various other with enhancing frequency and intensity until things acquired to the sheet of the break point. My way of dealing with the case took the type of minimizing the lot of time that we spent together and maximizing the quantity of time the I spent on other "more important" things. Namely work. In therefore doing, ns reasoned the there would be minimal hazard of conflict and also we might maintain an adequate level of connection. (Translation: Just enough to avoid a divorce).


Since mine idea the minimalism flew straight in the face of Linda"s desire because that whole-hearted intimacy and my own denied desire for the same thing, I no only had actually a dispute with her, yet within myself as well. In trying to work out for what was naturally an unsatisfying relationship, ns was both living a lie and trying to pressure it top top Linda, who fortunately to be unwilling to weaken her dream that a deep loving marriage, nevertheless of the emotional threats that that might entail. The fact was that i was persuaded that i was either unable or unfit for a truly fulfilling relationship and that that made no feeling to even shot for it. I believed that to expect for an ext would be naïve and also unrealistic since it appeared that no one has that type of marriage anyway, except in the movies. These beliefs were all usually rationalizations for staying clear of the hazard of genuine emotional intimacy.


When Linda and also I finally did with the edge the separates marriage from divorce my are afraid of losing her overrode mine commitment to staying clear of pain and also disappointment. That was as soon as things started to change. This shift which occurred over 25 years earlier has been ongoing and also has reinvented our partnership in means that have had lasting impacts on us both.


It to be only since Linda refuse to resolve for the kind of mediocrity that ns was ready to expropriate that ns finally decided to run in v both feet. Had she to be unwilling to placed our marriage on the line together she did, there is no inquiry in my mind the we would not be with each other today.

Without Linda"s vision the what was feasible for us, and also her insistence that we owe it come ourselves and each various other to go for the gold, fairly than the tin medal, I would never have actually chosen to have actually anted as much as what seemed to be together a high-stakes game.


I learned native Linda the it takes a lot an ext to go for the gusto than it does come wallow in the resentment, self-pity, and also dissatisfaction that are inevitable when we deny ours heart"s desires. The takes vision, courage, commitment, determination, and patience, several patience. I didn"t have actually much that these when I opted out of mine game and also into hers. However with Linda"s assist and support, I involved join her in what ended up being our vision and eventually became an same partner.


What we have pertained to enjoy together is not only infinitely more than I had believed feasible for us, but it has also exceeded Linda"s hopes as well.

These days, life is about continually raising the bar (we take it turns) to find out simply how an excellent things deserve to become, not only for us, but additionally for the many people whom us touch and also are touched by, both directly and indirectly.


In the words of Bob Dylan, "He who isn"t liven being born is busy dying." This applies not only to individuals but to marital relationships as well. The notion that we deserve to put points on cruise control and also sail through life along with a minimum the consciousness and also engagement and still suffer a high top quality of life exists in the domain of fantasy, no reality. To be liven being born calls for the willingness to display up, come risk, to tell the fact to others and to ours ourselves around what we truly desire, what us fear, what we lengthy for, and also what brings passion and also juice right into our lives.


"Marriage", to quote Stephen Levine, " is the ultimate danger sport". That is not for the feint the heart. The is no for those that would determined the path of the very least resistance. It is the route that typically tends to provoke the many resistance, because we tend to attract and marry human being who room our counterparts and complements.


With Linda"s help, i have found that this course can additionally be the course of best fulfillment, of greatest joy, and also of best possibility. That is the course that insists that us awaken not only to our deepest desires and also our deepest truths, but that we engage others in that very same challenge: the quest of the fulfillment of what truly matters to us and also the fulfillment of who we space as person beings.


I am and also will continue to be thankful to Linda because that hanging in there with me throughout those work in which i couldn"t hold the vision the she had come to trust. She no longer has actually to lug it alone and also we have become partners in the truest sense of the word. I invite you to sign up with us in the dance, whatever type that takes because that you. Friend won"t remorse it!


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Linda Bloom, L.C.S.W., and Charlie Bloom, M.S.W.

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, room the writer of Secrets of good Marriages: actual Truths from genuine Couples around Lasting Love.