What to expect when you are expecting', a popular book amongst many couples expecting children. Most people know of the book as a life saver filled with information on how to manage a pregnancy, the expectant mother and what to prepare for the arrival of the new born. A mother of three myself, I read this book again and again to better understand what to do while expecting my children. Often while reading through the book I always wondered why we don't have a book like it on marriage (What to expect when you are marrying your life partner), or a book on Politics (What to expect from your public servants), etc, etc.
I know that we as good Muslims are supposed to follow the Holy Quran for lifestyle and relationship guidelines but then everyone seems to interpret the Quran in their own way depending on convenience and agenda, so then what? Even though gossip, slander and maligning someone is considered 'haram' in the Quran, still we as a society thrive on gossip and this just tells us how we disregard the basic teachings of our Holy book.
The reason I write on this subject is because we have no real tools to manage most types of expectations in our day-to-day lives and this continuously bothers me. You could say that this adds colour to the world but there are times where guidelines would be so helpful. We study to educate ourselves about everything else except for (personal) relationship building. Unfortunately, it's always left to chance as a hit or miss.
Let's take marriage as an example since it's perhaps the most complicated relationship - so personal and yet so fragile. A union of two people coming together under a social contract. This means that the two people marrying are making a commitment to each other, their families, God and a society at large for the rest of their lives (hopefully). They come from different backdrops, if unrelated, they share no blood bond and if it is an arranged or love marriage, the two have to modify many things within themselves to cater for the overall picture to be successful. These two people also create other human beings out of this union that is then known as their family unit. So how does this work? What should the wife expect from the husband and vice versa? In my humble opinion, many married couples lose the plot when they tend to forget that expectations should be managed more inwardly rather than assuming that the spouse shall deliver on something which is perhaps not relevant in his or her mind.
So many of my girlfriends spend hours complaining about how their husbands are not living up to their expectations and if one were to ask the men what their opinion was on these complaints, they would shake it off as a 'woman' thing. Of course, we could read through John Gray's book 'Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus' as it is insightful. The fact that John Gray eventually divorced the wife he had dedicated the book too doesn't really help much though.
I am personally at a stage in life where I feel most relationships shall do well as long as I manage my own expectations correctly and stick to a realistic approach on family and friends as they are after all only human. It's taken me many years to understand this about myself. I should only expect as much as others may manage to deliver. This does not cover extreme situations such as infidelity, deception or any kind of dishonesty as these are basic ingredients which are a must at all times.
There is of course a whole other angle to this topic when it comes to our politicians. How these public servants go on and on about the great change they shall bring if elected to office. The funny thing is that most of these very noisy people are tried and tested and have never really changed their own ways let alone introduce anything productive to the public. Now here is the issue, do they let us down or we don't manage our own expectations from them incorrectly. Let them go on about their winds of change and tsunami's but do we actually have to believe their claims. I guess if we continue to live on hope, we should keep listening to them and pacify ourselves into numbness.
Someone very wise once said, 'a woman only complains till the time she has expectations. Once she goes quiet, she really doesn't have much interest left in the relationship anymore'. Wonder if the same thing applies to us as people. We complain, scream, shout and yet nothing changes and no one delivers what we expect at the end of the day. If this wise person is to be believed, it sounds like a dead marriage doesn't it. Unions are all about managing expectations. I have to be careful what I claim to the people in my life and they must stay realistic about what they believe I may be able to do for them. Now if we could implement this formula in some way as a national sentiment. A fair amount of air time is given to our public figures but instead of talking about real issues, they remain busy in just ‘brand building themselves’ by making unrealistic claims.
So is it a woman thing. Does one complain till one runs out of expectations or is it better to continue to expect in the hope that someday, someone may just deliver (no pun intended). Alas, as the saying goes, 'Hum Sab Umeed Say Hain' still!