“People who suffer a lot, often times do so, because they are cognitively wrong about what they think they have a right to expect.”  Abraham Maslow, psychologist


Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat,Pray,Love fame spoke in Pittsburgh last night. She was quoted in the Post Gazette: “Marriage is not a game for the young. It takes far too much to be able to make it work. It requires an enormous amount of maturity to handle the inevitable disappointments of love.” She has written a new book called Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace With Marriage.51d9yU9BlgL-1._SX106_

While I was married young and 36 years later it’s still working, I did not grow up with a huge pile of expectations. I believe that “growing up is honestly facing painful situations” (Fritz Perls). Too often young adults seem to want the sun, the moon and the stars. While I was looking for one thing, honesty (Thanks Dad), so many people now have a huge list. High expectations are a set up for drowning in the disappointment that follows. Expectations rob people of satisfaction. A chronic diet of expectations and disappointment leads to misery, despair and depression. (Read 2 earlier entries written on 3/10 about expectations.)

One of the best parts of aging that makes up for the impact of gravity is going through life with less expectations. This is important because the cycle of expectations leading to disappointment steal so much of what is beautiful in life. I accept my son is 99% unlikely to send a birthday card even when asked. I get a pinch of disappointment and I don’t get stuck in it. I do know I can count on him for honest conversations………….most of the time. If I accept responsibility for all my own mistakes and dropped balls I have a greater capacity to give others the benefit of the doubt.

Growing together over time is to understand and accept disappointment is a part of life and all relationships. The trick of success is to continue to communicate when disappointed and to understand that doesn’t guarantee you’ll get what you want. When my kids were little and I would say no to a request, they would be very upset. My response would be “Clearly, you need more practice with no and disappointment, it’s a huge part of life.” If someone gets more accomplished at handling disappointment I promise you that you will also be more open to the sweet side of life.iStock_000002871963XSmall

The prickly sensitivity of youth that leads down the path to overwhelming disappointment is not enviable about being young. Aging that accepts disappointment recognizes what’s really important. It is exhausting to expect so much from someone else and end up disappointed. It’s a roller coaster ride that has very little to do with reality. Look for someone who can be honest and recognize that they made a mistake and care about doing it a bit differently the next time.

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About the Rhoda Mills Sommer

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