Finding common goals within relationships

By Victoria Fryer 

It’s a widely accepted tenet of parenthood that having children puts added stressors on a marriage. And I know that’s true; I’ve seen it happen to my own friends and family. But, along with this comes a myth that, conversely, relationships without children are easy. In fact, childfree and childless relationships and marriages have their own challenges.

One of the things that children provide to a relationship or marriage is the idea that both parents are working toward a common goal. Every morning, parents wake up and know they have at least one thing to work together on: raising their children.

Childless and childfree couples, on the other hand, might not always have a common goal. Not having goals can lead to lacking a sense of partnership, having conflicting priorities, and feeling like the day-to-day grind is pointless.

I believe it’s important to set goals within a relationship. Couples should talk about their hopes and dreams, what they ultimately want out of their lives, and how they can work, both together and apart, to achieve all those things. Some questions to lead the conversation:

• What would your dream job look like? If you’re on a career path in one field, but what you ultimately want to do is something else entirely, your partner should know that. If you are open about dreams like this, your partner can help you achieve them. (He or she is your partner, after all!)

• What kind of place do you wish you could live in? If you’re living in a city or town that doesn’t meet your career or social needs, how can you and your partner come to an agreement on what kind of place might be next?

• What kind of retirement do you want to have? The answer to this question can impact the way you save money, how you invest it, and what kind of life you live. If you’re looking for an early retirement to travel the world, lots of savings and investments might be a priority. If you don’t expect to retire early and want to live an active life even before then, savings might be lower on the scale of importance.

But discussions about common goals don’t all have to be about these big questions. Fitness goals, home renovation goals, and choosing the next big purchase can also be things you and your partner collaborate on. Or maybe you both have a common interest in animal welfare or sustainability; you can find activities to do together that help advance the interests of those groups.

The ultimate goal is to be supportive and collaborative. You might not always agree, but relationships are a partnership, a long-term dance between what each of you wants most. If you can find some commonality and agree on some end goals, you might just be happier together in the pursuit of them.

Victoria Fryer is a 31-year-old writer and content strategist. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two pit bulls. You can find her on Twitter @extoria.

Childless by choice

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