As a married couple, for certain there will be many everyday things that you have in common and that you’re both comfortable with, which is why you’re together in the first place. But when it comes to dreaming about tomorrow, you might surprise each other at how different the things you want for the future can be.
While it is true that as partners, you should be there for each other no matter what the other decides to do, your presence in each other’s future must be conscious and deliberate, not incidental. And one trusted way to ensure that you’ll walk in the same direction with both eyes open is to share the same relationship vision.
Set aside a time to sit down with your partner and craft your shared vision at length. Choose a day where you have ample time with no distractions, and make sure you’re both in a good mood!
Commit to being honest, communicative, and receptive. You may have doubts and worries, and they will need to be addressed, but they mustn’t take center stage.
Step 1: Picture your personal vision for yourself and your relationship.
A relationship involves two people merging into one cohesive team, but sharing your future with another person requires a healthy level of self-awareness about what you want to achieve in your own life first.
Step one, then, is to reflect on your values and goals individually. Sit separately from your spouse and write down your dreams for the future. Where do you see yourself in the next five, next ten, next twenty years? And how does your spouse fit into this vision?
Then explore your own expectations on various aspects of your relationship—you can refer to the guidelines listed below regarding family, finances, home life, and travel—and write them all down as well.
Use “we” and “our” sentences to encourage the habit of thinking as a couple; for example, “We will encourage our children to ask questions”, or “Our home will be environment-friendly.”
Step 2: Align your visions as individuals.
Now put your heads together and compare your individual vision with your spouse’s, beginning with your career and personal interests.
Look at each other’s vision of the next few years, and study how your aspirations in the future will fit together. For example, does one spouse dream of traveling or working abroad in five years’ time, while the other prefers to cultivate a steady career in one place?
This is your time to listen to and understand each other’s personal goals and dreams. You will be instrumental in making your spouse’s dreams come true, as they will be in yours. In order for the both of you to be able to support and adjust to each other, it’s best to align your expectations early on.
Step 3: Align your visions about your relationship.
Now that you’ve sorted out your vision as individuals, it’s time to move on to the vision you will share as a married couple. To help turn your abstract vision into concrete resolutions, here are some guidelines you can follow:
Family life. How long will you wait until you have children? Will you be using birth control, and what kind? How many children can you reasonably afford to have? How will you raise them—what values do you wish to instill, what is your stance on discipline, where will they go to school? How do you plan on making private time for each other despite demands from work and family? How often will you spend time with each other’s in-laws and extended family?
Finances. Will both or only one of you be working? What will your ideal work schedule look like? Will you split bills and expenses 50/50, 60/40, or 70/30? How will you manage joint bank accounts? What system will you set up for the children’s allowances?
Take note: Neglecting to discuss money matters can cause tangles in a relationship, so it’s best to be proactive and approach the subject in a frank, straightforward manner.
Home and travel. Where do you want to put down your roots? What kind of house do you want to live in, and will that suit the size of the family you’re planning to have? How do you plan to split the chores? Will you do everything yourselves, or outsource some of the housework? Will you have pets, and what kind? Do you plan on traveling, and how often?
You and your spouse might encounter of other areas of mutual interest, like hobbies you share, or views on religion and politics. Now is the time to explore your individual and shared visions on those areas as well.
Step 4: Merge your shared vision as a married couple
Mark the points that you agree on. Your common ground will be the foundation of your shared vision. The things you agree on will clue you in on what values and goals you share, which will prepare you for taking your vision to the next level where you make plans towards making your common goals a reality.
Go through the points that you need to compromise on. Maybe your spouse believes the occasional punitive spanking will do your children good, while you were raised on timeouts and groundings and you turned out fine, so that’s good enough for you.
Looking closer, you’ll find that you may have different methods in mind, but the same vision: raising children with a firm, fair hand and a consequence-based system of discipline.
This same vision will be the basis of your compromise on the points you need to refine.
Set aside the points you disagree on for now. Perhaps he wants to quietly settle down in the country but you can’t imagine giving up city life, or you prefer traveling during the holidays and she would rather spend that time visiting family.
Hear each other’s opinions out, but try not to dwell too long on those topics at this point if they’re not immediate, pressing matters. Recognize these as opportunities for debate and growth later on.
The time will come for you to cross those bridges. For now, focus on the dreams you can start building together.
Once done, find a way to always keep your vision in mind. Some couples may want to create a vision board together, others may want to write down their vision and read it together regularly. Others may prefer to talk less, live more. That’s fine! No two couples, just as no two visions, are the same. You do you.
That’s not to say that your vision is set in stone. Circumstances and new experiences will change you and your spouse as persons, and your shared vision may need re-evaluation and recalibration as you grow.
Your shared vision will be one of the fundamentals of your relationship. It will serve as a touchstone, a beacon of light that you and your partner will look to for guidance during times of conflict or significant change.
Thinking for two calls for a lot of deliberate, conscious practice on both your parts, and won’t be something that you can achieve overnight. Having a relationship vision will help ease you into the habit of making choices together, unify you as a married couple, and strengthen your commitment to each other and to your relationship for the long-term.
Guest Author’s Bio:
M is a happily married Filipino mother to three wonderful little daughters, ages: 8 years, 5 years, and 4 months old. Her daily life is a struggle between being the Executive Content Director for Project Female and deciding who gets to watch television next. She specializes in creating and editing content for female empowerment, parenting, beauty, health/nutrition, and lifestyle. As the daughter of two very hardworking people, she was brought up with strict traditional Asian values and yet embraces modern trends like Facebook, vegan cupcakes, and the occasional singing cat video.
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