Strong relationships are not formed by finding someone who is your mirror image. While shared values are important, you can build a long-lasting, co-operative relationship out of two people who don’t always share the same opinion. However, what if you and your partner differ in terms of plans for the future? What if it seems like you’re on one trajectory and they’re on another? Can you bring those two paths together or is it hopeless?
Have a serious “think” about your plans
First of all, when you’re looking at taking a relationship to a more serious and long-term level, you need to actually think about where you want to be in the future. Ask yourself where you see yourself in ten years, whether you’re working, raising a family, living somewhere in particular, or otherwise. Know what your priorities are so that, if your partner mentions their own, you’re not thrown for a loop and not really knowing what you want to do. If you’re an adult, it’s your responsibility to know whether you have a desired direction for your life or not.
When you’re talking about such important topics such as family, career, where you live, maybe even religion and lifestyle, then it’s only natural that things are going to get heated. If you haven’t learned how to have a disagreement with your partner, sparks can fly. For that reason, you need to learn how to diffuse arguments. This has to be a joint process, but it’s also important to be willing to be the first person to step down. For couples that have never really argued, it can feel like you’re suddenly pitted versus your partner, but you need to think of it as cooperation that has simply broken down, and work to build it back up. Arguments do not have to be impasses. Cooler heads often prevail.
Talk about the future
You don’t have to have a specific answer to what kind of relationship, family, or life you want in the future. However, it is important to at least consider the questions and to not consider them alone. Start talking about the future with your partner now and then, and have more serious conversations about it if you’re considering making any kind of commitment with them. Get their opinions on family, on how they feel about their career, and more. Expect differences in opinion. Perfectly aligned plans are rare, though sometimes you may find your partner is more willing to go with the flow.
Be real with yourself when it comes to the impasses
However, whether it spawns from an argument or not, there are some chasms that might simply be too big to cross. For instance, if you’re an extremely career motivated person but your partner would rather that you quit your job to take care of the family at home, you need to ask yourself seriously whether that’s something you want to do. You need to be real with yourself when it comes to a difference that will mean the end of the relationship. It can be heartbreaking but sometimes it will mean getting divorce lawyers involved, too. This is a part of the reason that frank and regular communication about the future is so important. The longer you leave it to find these points of disagreement, the more you have to lose.
My way or the highway does not work in a relationship. Both couples have to be willing to push and take, and to do it willingly and without resentment. For that reason, you need to consider your priorities. What is most important in your life? More importantly, what are you willing to compromise for the relationship? You should make sure that your partner has an answer to this question, as well. It might naturally turn out that one of you is more willing to give way and let the other decide on certain topics regarding your future. However, if a person isn’t willing to compromise a single thing for a relationship, then that is a major red flag.
The most important bridge for any gap in any relationship is communication. It can’t fix everything, but it can help you find what can be fixed and what cannot. Ensure that you and your partner are communicating regularly and honestly about your plans for the future and, when you get to the point that you’re ready to commit to one another, talk seriously about how those plans are going to change or be shared.