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Making a commitment: understanding each other’s goals and dreams

What are your goals and dreams? Take a moment to think about why you'd like to achieve certain things. Often there’s an underlying need – such as stability, excitement, popularity or self-fulfilment. With some goals, it may be more about being true to the things that matter for you, like caring for friends and family, working in a job that makes a difference, or standing up for your beliefs and values.

Discussing your dreams with your partner – sharing what drives you – can help you to feel closer and more intimate as you make a commitment to each other.

Hopes and expectations

As well as sharing your dreams, it is important to look at what each of you expects from your life together. Being open and clear about your hopes and expectations can help you work together to achieve what you both want.

Your hopes and expectations will be influenced by many things, including previous relationships, friends, family members, the media, your age, and some of your significant life experiences. One of the most significant influences might be whatever you learned from your parents’ relationships as you were growing up.

Some of your learned behaviour from your parents may not show itself until you enter a long-term relationship or become a parent yourself, but it can have a much more powerful influence than you realise. Finding yourself behaving like your parents can be a shock, especially if it’s something you have been trying to avoid. It's perfectly normal to have doubts or feel scared about making a commitment. Taking steps like moving in together, getting married, or having children are among the biggest decisions you’ll make in your life. But, if you can share your feelings, and support and reassure each other, then you're on the right track.

Money matters

Making a commitment can be like a merger. You may need to strike a balance between holding on to some financial independence and covering your new shared responsibilities.

Because money is a sensitive and personal issue, many couples avoid talking about their concerns, especially in the early days. But, if you are worried about money, you may be able to help avoid problems getting any bigger by having an open conversation with your partner, and making plans.

There are certain factors that can help you determine whether money might be a problem between you – differences in what you earn; what you like to spend money on; how you split paying for going out; how you handle big purchases like holidays; etc. Getting married or moving in together can be expensive, and many couples will need to rely on loans or credit to cover the costs. Before you take on any debts, agree together how you are going to pay it back, and make sure you can manage it together. If one partner feels pressured into financial outlays that they can’t afford, it can lead to unnecessary stress and resentment, so it’s important to discuss money concerns when they first arise.

Having a monthly planner can help. You can work out a budget together, including all items that you will cover as a couple, and keeping your individual spending separate. Work out what you will spend each month, and which of you will take responsibility for what. A joint account can be a good way of dealing with shared outgoings like rent, bills, and grocery shopping. Sorting this stuff out early can help you avoid arguments later .

Working out your budget may trigger conversations about what will change as you deepen your commitment. Be honest with each other about your worries and expectations. Discuss your attitudes to money and any hopes and fears you may have about financial security.

In addition to the monthly planner, you might want to look at your longer-term goals. Write down some ideas for what you want to accomplish over the next few years. This doesn’t need to be set in stone – you can revisit it yearly to see how things are going and what, if anything, has changed for both of you. Even when you don’t agree, having a sense of each other’s goals and dreams can help you to understand each other better.

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