What Grocery Shopping Taught me about Setting Expectations

When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are.

Donald Miller

Another week has flown by and again I am so grateful for your support of this blog. Well beyond my expectations, has been the feedback I have been getting from Dad’s, who have been encouraging me to write this, not only as insight into their journey raise amazing women, but also for their girls to read. I am so humbled by that feedback, I can’t even express the extreme gratitude, as this blog is a passion project for me to help uplift women and men and to share real stories that are relatable and highlight the imperfection of life’s journey, and that the imperfection is the beauty of our lives.

If these stories resonate with you, please share with others. Follow, Like and share is all I ask. Keep the comments coming as they help me write for you, the audience. Now onto this weeks story.

The beginning of expectation setting fail…

Years ago, when my husband I started living together, we did what most couples do and took on the daunting task of deciding the division of labor. Looking back, it wasn’t done with intention, it sort of just happened. Therefore, we were left with ambiguity that caused some, let’s just say, growing pains.

One of my assigned duties was procurement. We both HATE grocery shopping, however since I am the cook, it made sense that this would fall to me.

We did try a few times going grocery shopping together, and it was a disaster. He was impatient and wanted to hurry, while I wanted to squeeze the fruit and smell the vegetables. I would look closely at the meat and make my way with careful diligence through the entire store. We quickly decided to abandon that plan, as we only made each other even more miserable. This might have been a first clue that we had mis-aligned expectations on how this whole thing should go.

Each week, I would grudgingly enter the grocery store, procure our items, slog it to the car and drive home.

Unmet expectations…

Here’s where expectations come in. My expectation was that my husband would hear me come in and immediately bound out the door to bring in the groceries. He would just know this, because he is a guy. 🙄

We never talked about this vision in my head. I just thought that he would naturally do this. Never mind the garage is detached and his office didn’t have a view of the driveway. (He was always in his office 🤦‍♀️). Who says that expectations had to be rational 😂😂.

Let’s just say, it didn’t happen. Week after week, I would have to ask him to help and I would get so irritated until finally I stopped asking and would carry in the groceries and when I was done hauling it all in, he would show up in the kitchen, asking “did you remember to get …?” Which honestly would only increase my cranky pants self and I would up the anti on the mounting tension, by closing the cubbards hard for emphasis!

Well to be fair, I was already irritated because, you know, I hate grocery shopping 😂.

Assumptions creep in …

Each week he just assumed I was cranky because of going grocery shopping. I would assume he was not interested in helping.

We proceeded to not talk about it. He avoided me until I calmed down and I avoided him so I could calm down. Win/win. (Ostrich syndrome 😉).

I even tried different strategies, like calling 5-10 minutes before I got home, to alert him. He was alerted and kept working away … no standing by the garage in anticipation of carrying groceries… 😡

And then the volcano erupted, as it eventually does…

One day, I just boiled over. And I said in a stern cranky tone, “Why do I always have to ask you to help bring in the groceries? You do it without being asked, for your Mom, but you won’t do it for me? I can’t believe you just won’t help!”

He just looked at me with a blank expression and said calmly “when I was growing up she made her expectations clear, and I knew that is what she wanted, if that is what you want me to do just tell me, I can’t read your mind.”

I have to say I was stunned. In that moment, I had crystal clarity that I hadn’t stated my expectations and there was no way he could meet unstated expectations. We needed clarity and a deeper level of granularity in the roles and responsibilities department.

This was such a powerful moment of learning, because it resonated with all facets of my life. I began to think “how often am I getting frustrated due to unmet expectations because they are unstated and unaccepted as a result?”

When there is a lack of clarity or worse unstated expectations, there will be friction, conflict and strife. And the thing is, it is exceedingly easy to fix, as long as you commit to communicating and hanging in there for clarity.

Opportunity to grow …

The beauty of this moment, was that it was the point where our relationship got stronger because, we realized that there were expectations we both had, that we never discussed. And instead of feeling unfulfilled, we decided to start stating the expectations to see if it could be met or if the expectations should shift or change.

Expectations can be tricky …

Expectations can be tricky. The ones we have for ourselves alone are one thing, but once we project them onto others, they have to be discussed and agreed to. For example: if I expect perfection in myself, fine. That is a head game for me alone. But if I project it on someone else who has no interest in being perfect, I am only going to have friction with them and it will be an issue.

So when your feeling irritated or frustrated with someone, check yourself first. Are you projecting your expectations onto them? Are you being objective and open to discussing if they can or even want to meet them?

I have super high expectations for myself and I had to shift my perspective a long while ago, to realize that these are mine alone. As to expectations of others, I try to be open and flexible to those expectations others have for themselves, as well as, what they might have for me.

As a leader, I try to be clear with my expectations of others, and add dialogue to provide not only clarity but also a better understanding of where that other person is at.

Expectations can be a wonderful way to level set, as long as you discuss them and you remain flexible to adjust for a win/win. Otherwise they can lead to a lot of devisivness, frustration, strife and well hurt feelings too!

Final thoughts

Taking time to express your expectations with others and refining your perspectives, not only helps build better relationships, but it also allows you to be more inclusive. Being more inclusive helps you bring more equity to the fold, where everyone has a voice.

Check your expectations and make sure you’re not projecting them onto others, assuming others have clarity or avoiding discussing when expectations seem misaligned.

With an investment in the relationship to explore expectations, you will end up with deeper and more meaningful dialogue and ultimately relationship in the end.

Clarify and adjust your expectations and Shine Brightly!


Published by Samantha

I am a fierce advocate for women, and men, especially in business. I want you bright wonderfully talented people to find your voice, be confident and change the system from within.

3 thoughts on “What Grocery Shopping Taught me about Setting Expectations

  1. Beautifully written. What a powerful message ! The grocery shopping story happened at my home too🙂. I do share your posts to my daughters. We all ❤️ it. Keep going

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for the encouragement and taking time to comment. So glad you and your daughter like these life stories. The grocery experience must be one of this universal experiences – Lol! 🤗


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