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Unspoken Expectations

Unspoken Expectations

This simple phrase changed my life.

Thanks to an incredibly impactful bible study group that my church hosted, I now have a great understanding of Unspoken Expectations. Until I joined that class, I had no idea that I was guilty of unspoken expectations, for as long as I can remember.

What is it? It’s a lot of things. It’s a communication problem, it’s a learned behavior, and it’s a generational sin. I was guilty of it at work, with my kids, in my marriage and even in my last relationship until unspoken expectations were brought to light in that Bible Study I started taking at church. We studied with a great book called Emotionally Healthy Spirituality and we used the complimenting workbook to really get into the nitty gritty. That book and class really forced me to self reflect and see a giant toxic trait that I was bringing to all of my relationships. All of them.

Let’s break it down.

Unspoken: not expressed in speech.

Expectation: a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future.

Unspoken expectation is the strong belief that something will happen EVEN though you have never expressed it in speech (to the party that you expect to behave or react a certain way). Do you do this to people? I sure did. Unspoken expectations are premeditated resentments.

Say that out loud. Unspoken expectations are premeditated resentments.

I expected my ex-husband to come home right after work every day instead of going to the bar with his co-workers first. Did I tell him that? Nope (at least not in the beginning of our relationship). I would just be raging mad when he got home, because how dare he leave it to me to get the kids from daycare, make dinner, clean up, do laundry, bathe the kids, and get ready for the next day by myself. I worked all day too, and before work made breakfast, dressed the kids, and took them to daycare. I expected him to be a co-parent and a partner, but what that meant to me were words and phrases that never came out of my mouth.

At work, I expected employees and subcontractors to show up on time and execute a project in a timely manner. Did I tell them that “this project has been budgeted for 10 days” so plan to have it done by then? Not in the beginning. I sure do now! Silly me, I even expected the owners of the company I worked for to have good time management and accountability, and then found myself absolutely floored when they would blame anyone else when something went amiss.

There were days when I felt like a crazy person… (oh wait, is it politically incorrect to say “crazy person “ now? Too bad. I never said I wasn't gonna hurt some feelings). I lived in a world where I had expectations that people feel the same way I do in relationships, so how could anyone possibly lie or cheat or treat me with complete disregard? But did I tell them what I expected from them, in my own words? Do you? It took me until I was 44 years old to become aware that much of my anxiety, anger, disappointment, and frustration came from my own lack of intentional communication.

Don't get me wrong, the people in my life have their own accountability to deal with too, I’m simply reflecting on mine so that maybe it strikes a chord with you. Do you expect behavior from someone in your life, but have never uttered a single word about it to them? Do not assume that they know! Chances are…they don’t.

Short story.

I was on the phone with Avery, my 20 year old daughter. She lives in Cincinnati with her boyfriend of 4 years, Branyan. We love him, he is wonderful to her. Avery was upset, mad even, because Branyan was coming back to our hometown for a couple of days without her (she had to work), and it sent her into a mild, anxiety fueled tantrum.

Here’s how the call went.

Avery: I’m so mad at Branyan right now. He’s making plans to come home for a couple of days around Easter (I think it was Easter- I could be wrong about which holiday it was).

Me: Why is he leaving you there? (I’m not gonna lie, at first I was a little upset too that he was going to leave her alone on a holiday).

Avery: I can’t get off of work, I tried.

Me: Did you guys talk about it? Was he just like- too bad, I’m going home?

Avery: Well no, I told him it was fine because I’ll be stuck at work the night before and the morning after anyway. But he should know better. He should know that it would upset me.

Me: (in this moment, i saw it. I saw that I had handed down the poor communication skill of Unspoken Expectations)…………. Avery……. That’s not fair. You cannot say it’s fine and then turn around and be mad that he believes you. You have to say what you mean. You have to tell him that it upsets you.

When I say that Unspoken Expectations is a learned behavior, I mean it. Avery showed me. She learned it from me. At this point in my life, I had never considered myself to be emotionally immature, but I was struggling with my spirituality and had no idea why. Most of my life I’ve always felt more mature than my peers. I just chalked it up to being the oldest sibling, but really I’m just more conservative than them. One thing that may separate me though is my self awareness. I try to sit back and really consider why I react the way I do, or why I believe what I do. I don’t think everyone does that. In fact, I know that not everyone does that. And I pray. I pray a lot and always seek God’s guidance. If I’m being honest, most of the time it’s nothing buy crickets. I didn’t always see God working in my life or recognize the opportunities He put right in front of me. What I remember so vividly is that during the time I was working through the book and workbook from class, I felt Jesus. I mean, I would sit in my comfy chair reading the chapter for the next meeting, looking up the scripture in my bible and going to town on my answers in the workbook and I could faintly see Jesus sitting at my desk in my office watching me. I know it sounds crazy to those who don’t believe in Jesus or aren’t very spiritual, but it’s 100% true. I also remember thinking how amazing it would be to just sit and have a cup of coffee with Jesus, like I do with my friends. Can you imagine? I knew that learning about Emotionally Healthy Spirituality was the path I was supposed to be on. We learned about so much more than unspoken expectations too, that one topic was what hit me the hardest. I took that class in 2018 and to this day, I still think about it and how much it’s impacted me. I will forever be grateful that Jesus led my church to offer it and gather such a participative group together to learn.

If you’d like to get your own copy of the book, workbook, and any other ones in the series (yes, there are more!) here is my affiliate link for it. Personally, I like the hard copy so I can write notes in it, but it’s available on kindle and audiobook too. Here is the workbook:

There is an entire series if you want to check out what else may be right for you:

If you don’t know what an affiliate link is, it means that if you click on the link and order I may earn a small commission from your purchase. Don’t let that dissuade you from getting any of these items. I used them and they changed my life. I hope they help you too. If they do, drop me a line and tell me about it!

May you be surrounded by comfort and love,



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