Supporting Your Partner’s Dreams

When you’ve been in a long-term relationship for, well, a pretty long time, it’s common to develop a rhythm, a schedule, a sense of what’s ‘normal’ for your life together. And when your partner suddenly decides they want to change that normalcy with a new dream or goal, it can feel pretty disconcerting. Maybe you’re used to having dinner together, and now they want to take night classes to get a new degree. Maybe you love your Saturday morning brunches together, and they want to start hiking Saturday mornings. Maybe they want to relocate to pursue a job! The list of possibilities are endless, but if this has happened to you, you know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s frustrating to suddenly be expected to change the life you enjoy just because they got some fancy new idea of what they want. But, at the same time, you love your partner — you want them to be happy.

Some people, in this situation, bend over backwards to do what their partner wants. They’ll change anything and everything in the interest of their partners pie-in-the-sky dreams. But it’s important to remember that your needs matter, too!Supporting your partner does not mean letting them define every moment of your schedule. Take some time to think about what you need — what do you need for your health? For your career? For your happiness? Make sure those don’t get trampled in this new transition.

Then again, maybe you’re in the group that swings the other direction: You refuse to allow anything new in your life. Your partner might try new things, but in your mind, that’s their choice — and you won’t adjust your schedule in the slightest. You probably feel frustrated at your partner’s new dreams; they may seem foolish or flighty to you. You might not go so far as to get in the way of their choices, but you certainly don’t plan on participating. The problem here is this: Change is inevitable. If your partner has new dreams, the health of your relationship depends on you holding those dreams together. How can you weave a new normal with these dreams? How can you maintain your own health, while still showing your partner that you’re there for them? Pursuing dreams separately is building lives separately, and the healthiest relationships thrive when you build a life together.

It can be hard for anyone when your partner has an idea that you don’t share enthusiasm for — finding a new normal together is a balance. Both your needs are important, and both of your dreams are important. Take time to sit down together to talk about it — and find out how you can both support the other. 

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