What We Tell Ourselves and What Really Happens

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I haven’t been to a wedding in ages, and this month I went to two. Above is a picture of the bride and me (sorry about the red eyes), and below a shot of bride and groom (second wedding). Both absolutely beautiful, both showing excellent promise for true happiness.

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That’s what I told my friend Jody, as I was showing her the pictures.

My friend, Jody, is divorced. So, as I was scrolling through the photos, and telling her: they look so happy, don’t they, success stories, she agreed, but almost immediately added: that’s because you see the best in people. Because YOU want them to be happy. But life doesn’t always work the way we want it to.

I put the phone down, and came this close to snapping back with a certain remark, then I remembered. Jody’s story started just like the two couples’ stories, more or less, some twelve years ago. Two people in love, happily married, having a child … then … the end. There were lies, there was cheating, there were fights, there was a divorce.

It’s natural to tell ourselves things we want to believe, expect the best in people. Especially at a wedding. But there is some truth in what Jody said, and I had to admit to her that while both couples looked perfectly in love, there is a serious challenge ahead for one couple (both are PhDs looking for teaching jobs, which in one of their professions might not be so easy to find. Depending on the offer, they might have to live hundreds of miles apart, and that’s a serious test). But I’m sure they’ll be fine.

Anyway, Jody said there are two kinds of people in the world, and she had a lot of time to think about this since her divorce: those who expect the best from people around them (be it when it comes to a wedding, a conversation), and those who expect the worst. And managing our expectations, especially when it comes to promises, or when we question motives, is important.

What do you think about the two-group scenario? Hard to do at a wedding, but maybe for life, in general:   1.  Expect the best and possibly be disappointed.   2.   Expect the worst and hope for the best.  I’m not sure I could pull off the second, but maybe a combination?

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19 responses to “What We Tell Ourselves and What Really Happens

  1. The couples’ marriages do not depend on YOU thinking the best and having a positive outlook, BUT it depends on how well the couples KNOW one another and work to work out their differences. I’m on my second marriage. There is A LOT I did NOT know about dating and getting to know people. Sadly, I’m learning the hard way. However, THEY have to do the work… and NOT throw their relationship away… provided they care for one another, have interests in common, and are respectful of one another. THEY can control their mind-sets… not one another!

    I wish both couples the best of luck and love!! ;-)

  2. Interesting. I tend to think there’s got to be another way as well, but at the moment I don’t know what it is.

  3. I think if you expect the best from people they very often rise to your trust, so I at least try to do that. Not always easy though……

  4. I’ve always liked the half full glass. When your anticipation works out, it’s very gratifying. The couple needs to know they have the support of their village; it provides them with strength and also some pressure to work at the marriage. And as Anabel said, people can rise to your trust.
    Of course, all this is said from the perspective of a mother whose son is divorced. He managed it well, without a lot of rancor, but is now very reluctant to begin a new relationship.

  5. It may not be so black and white. I try to stay positive and think the best of people, but it doesn’t always work!

  6. Hi Silvia .. one hopes the best for everyone … and communication and understanding can be key – but that’s so true in all walks of life ..

    Glad you had two fun events to go to and meet up with friends and family .. Happy Labor Day … Hilary

  7. Great questions, Silvia. If I expect too much, then I am disappointed. So I like to hope for the best and see what happens. I also agree with Linda–not too much is really black and white, mostly grey. Have a wonderful weekend, Denise

  8. Interesting post Silvia ..I like to see the best in people. Although I regard myself as a pessimistic optimist. Personally I don’t like the word ‘expectations’ – we expect e.g. that the other will fulfil us or make us happy or whatever .. many of my divorced friends had this expectation ..
    You look lovely in the photo!
    Have a great weekend!

  9. I LOVE this phote of you, Silvia. Even if your eyes are a tad red, I can look right into them and feel like I’m meeting you. I like that!

    As for your question, I have no idea!! Sometimes my first impression is accurate; sometimes it’s only accurate until I finally see the “real” person. Sometimes I am encouraged to think the best of strangers; sometimes I don’t trust anyone’s motives. I guess my recent or significant experiences color how I approach the next one.

  10. I’m a terrible cynic about marriage and weddings. For me, marriage is a legal arrangement, and there’s nothing romantic about it. Two people who chose to be together for a lifetime, married or not? That’s romantic. Weddings are extra. I think I’m between options 1 and 2. I don’t expect the worst or the best but plan for both contingencies. Better to take life as it comes and cherish each day.

    VR Barkowski

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