Don’t let your life goals tank your love life
Avoiding this fate is a huge #relationshipgoal.
When asked what caused their past relationships to end, more than 1 in 4 people said that differing goals for the future caused the rift, according to a survey released Monday by Discover and Match.com. That was followed by arguments and strains put on by issues around kids (20%) — like whether or not to have them, or the strain of them on a marriage — and financial disagreements (18%).
That’s not that different from what people say strains their relationship: The No. 1 answer there is finances, which more than half of people cite. That’s followed by goals for the future, which more than one in three say strains their relationship.
What this data shows clearly is that both financial issues and differing life goals — these are the only things that land both in the top 3 things that strain and end unions– are very problematic in relationships. The good news? Therapists say that there are ways to avoid relationship strains and breakups over goals and finances.
Firstly, figure out the goals of each person, and the goals as a couple, both financial and otherwise, says psychologist Erika Martinez of Envision Wellness. Write these down. Then make a list together that starts with the goals that you do agree upon, says psychotherapist Stacy Kaiser, an editor at large at Live Happy. So if you both want to buy a home in a few years, take a vacation to a certain place, write all of those goals down.
Now for the hard part: making a list of, and working towards compromises on, the goals that you disagree upon, says Kaiser. “If you sense, or see on your partner’s face, that they are not pleased with your goal choices, talk to them about what is making them uncomfortable, or unhappy about your goals,” says Ora Nadrich, a life coach and author of “Says Who? How One Simple Question Can Change The Way You Think Forever.” Use that conversation to help you work towards a compromise. “A compromise doesn’t mean you both walk away happy. When it comes to strong differences the goal might actually be that you find a compromise where you’re both equally unhappy.” So, for example, if you want to take a $5000 trip this year, and he wants to save $5000, you might opt instead to sock away $2500 in savings and take a less fabulous $2500 vacation.
Now that you have both financial and life goals, it’s essential that you keep the lines of communication open about both. “Share your efforts for reaching your goals, and cheer each other on in the process,” says Nadrich. Consider weekly couple’s meetings where you touch base both about your finances and your goals. “Having solid and open communication is instrumental for this to take place,” says Martinez. “If one person doesn’t feel like they can freely voice their thoughts and feelings, it won’t work well.”
Sometimes, of course, disagreements and opposing goals will keep eating at you — and that’s when you have to make decisions: “If you’re in a relationship that you care about and want to last long-term you must decide if your relationship is more important than any power struggle or disagreement,” Kaiser adds. “When you stop being able to do that you should consider seeking professional help from a relationship counselor or finance counselor.”
And, of course, you have to know when enough is enough: “Sometimes it is just hopeless,” says Kaiser. So her advice for your next relationship is this: invest in one “where your overall values are the same or within reach of compromise.” And get to know these things about a person early in the game, before you get in too deep.
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