The Myth of Romantic Expectations
Why Hubby is Your Prince Charming
By: DeAnna Lorraine
Professional Relationship Coach & Matchmaker
So many factors may contribute to the myth of romantic expectations. Media plays a huge role because of romantic comedies and novels, magazines, and Disney movies like Cinderella, which teach women – very early on – that all we have to do is wait, and a “Prince Charming” who is perfect in every way (has no flaws!), will magically pop into our lives out of nowhere, rescue us, and we would ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after!
With no marital issues, no communication conflicts, this man will bring us flowers and romantic gifts all the time (and be a major hunk by the way).
Wow, what a dream life!
But that is just it. Those kinds of expectations and ideals are just that – a dream. A fantasy. The idea of a Prince Charming or a “dream man” has really imprisoned women in a box of unrealistic expectations when it comes to marriage.
When women become fixated on this dream man, they can become quickly dissatisfied with their own. He may be relatively attractive and have qualities that make him a great husband or father – including loyalty, honesty, patience, affection and humour – but she thinks: “Hmmm, maybe I should have someone who is more handsome or hilarious or who compliments me all the time… and so on, and so forth.”
Then, we would start longing for a guy who is different and, in our eyes, “more perfect,” or ideal, and focus only on what we perceive as “flaws” in the good man we are with. That focus on what we think is “missing” or not ideal then actually creates and perpetuates a feeling of dissatisfaction and unhappiness in what may otherwise be a good and loving marriage.
What you focus on always expands. So, if you focus on the 20% of your man that you do not like or that “does not fit your ideals”, then you are going to grow more and more disappointed and irritated with it. The more we think about it, the less happy we are, and the more we spend time wondering if “the grass is greener” somewhere else.
Little does the man we are married to know that he is constantly being tested by us as we are comparing and contrasting him to our Prince Charming! So, another unintended consequence of these comparisons, is that we may inadvertently make the man we are with feel inadequate, or chip away at his self-confidence over time, thereby making him less motivated to do nice things for us and make us happy.
A very important thing to understand about the male species is that men actually thrive on women accepting them and acknowledging them, not us disapproving of them and acting disappointed in them. A good man actually instinctively loves to make his woman happy. It breaks his heart and feelings of self-worth when he feels like he is disappointing her.
We are also forgetting another important factor: we are not perfect either! We are not ideal in every way, and we have flaws, too. Since, after all, we are human beings.
If you focus on the 80% of him that you like and on the places and times when he does make you feel happy and loved, then your happiness and satisfaction and the relationship will actually grow. It is healthier to have the mindset that your dream man is right in front of you!
At the same time, you can make your marriage happier and more fulfilling by showing up as your best self, and being happy, appreciative, playful and attractive when you interact with him. That tends to have the positive ripple effect of him feeling happier with YOU – and expressing affection, love and romance more often.
So, you will get more of what you want when you focus on the positives, and focus on BEING positive yourself.
Would you not rather be happy in your marriage?
Although many expectations are too fantasy-based and unrealistic, the most important ideals for a relationship which are realistic, and that a woman should NOT compromise on, are: having love, friendship, honesty, good communication most of the time (as can be expected from a man – see chart), and respect present in the relationship.
On another related note, it is important to know HOW to communicate to a man that you would like him to “do a little more of” something that would help you feel happier and that he is fulfilling more of these ideals for you. Most women make the mistake of complaining, criticising, or nagging their man, to try to get him to change or “do” something.
A common example is of a woman complaining to her man: “You never do romantic things for me! I wish you would bring me flowers more!” or “you never compliment me anymore!” When a man is greeted by an angry, disappointed woman who is complaining to him about what he is not doing, it makes him feel defensive and unappreciated – which puts him in the exact opposite mood of wanting to do romantic or nice things for you! It may even distance him further and perpetuate the cycle.
Women primarily need love, romance and affection, but men primarily need respect, appreciation and acknowledgement. When men are getting those primary needs met, then they feel the desire to give women more love, romance and affection.
So, here is a much more effective technique to communicate with a man and have him respond positively instead of complaining or criticising him: you give him positive acknowledgement, appreciation and respect first, for the positive things he does, and then tell him what you would love more of.
Here is an example of this in action:
“Honey, I know you work so hard to provide for our family and you are a wonderful husband and father. I really thank you for that, but I love it when you XYZ (do romantic things for me sometimes) (are more affectionate with me and tell me I am beautiful, etc.) more. It makes me feel more connected to you and I love feeling appreciated by you.”
When your man DOES do something or tell you something that you like, make sure that you acknowledge him for it and give him positive feedback in the moment! Look him in the eyes, touch him affectionately, and say, “thank you so much for saying/doing that, that makes me so happy. You are amazing.”
That will usually make a man want to do those nice things even more. See, men “train” and improve with positive, not negative, reinforcement.
To help you even further with keeping healthy, realistic expectations in your marriage, and not letting unrealistic expectations cause dissatisfaction and hurt it, I have put together a helpful chart which outlines the top expectations that women have of Prince Charming which are too high and unrealistic, coupled with what are healthy and realistic expectations instead. You may want to print this out and hang it up somewhere as a reminder!