The natural progression of relationships stems across years. Throughout those years, you and your partner grow and change a lot individually and as a couple. Part of “playing the long game” involves making plans about your future together. But sometimes, when two different people are in a relationship, these differences could either complement or cause friction between partners.
Whether you’re planning for college, or a dream job, dream city–or even not planning at all–when you’re in a relationship, decisions are not one-sided anymore. They become these multi-facet matrix where one opinion or preference could be the total opposite of what your partner wants.
Does this mean it’s time to look at a big “goodbye”? Of course not! Everyone who enters in a serious relationship has some sort of plan to see that relationship until the end.
So what do you do when you encounter crossroads in your relationship? Here are some things you can try:
Sit down and talk it out.
Communication between couples have always been a major factor in establishing stronger emotional bonds between partners. When your major differences cause too much turmoil in your relationship, your first instinct would be to further antagonize each other. This might happen especially in relationships when both of you have strong personalities. However, this is counterproductive and would only create a rift between the two of you, and that’s the last thing you need now.
Lay everything out in the open: your hopes and dreams, the choices you have, the choices you don’t have, areas where you’re willing to compromise, everything. Just discuss together, and respect each other’s plans and/or opinions. Chip in some of your thoughts without being combative.
Look for the root of your differences.
When you reach a point in your relationship where the differences cause disagreements, particularly in decision making, ask yourself first: “Are we disagreeing because we have different beliefs, or because I think he/she is wrong and I’m right? Are we having this argument because I think this decision is unwise, or because I think it’s unfair for me?”
You have to assess yourself as well. Empathy between couples plays an important role in overcoming challenges in your relationship, especially for internal problems like differing opinions, plans or dreams. Empathizing with your partner, understanding his/her feelings, and respecting his/her dreams are all important if you truly want to be with him or her in the long run.
Make those differences complement not cancel out each other.
In many relationships, sometimes a partner has to suppress a side of himself or herself to maintain harmony between the two of them. The problem is that this is unhealthy. When you encounter differences in your relationship, or when you realize that you have different plans in the future, try to use this opportunity to plan together. As mentioned above, talk it out. There’s no reason for the two of you not to meet each other halfway.
Being in a relationship with someone doesn’t automatically transform the two of you into similar people. Although, habits tend to rub off on each other. This does not mean that there will be no happily ever afters and that there’s only a long road to misery ahead of you. Compromise will always be an exercise of patience and a testament of your love for each other.