It seems like every couple has its differences. And sometimes those differences become big problems.
Maybe you feel like “my husband and I want different things in life”, or “my husband and I don’t have the same goals”.
So what can you do about it? In this article, I’ll offer up 10 practical tips if this is you.
Can a relationship work with different goals?
The short answer is yes. But it will take some time and effort to figure out how to make that happen.
If you are married and your spouse wants something different than what you do, then there’s a very good chance you can still build a happy life together.
But, you may need to compromise on certain things. You might even need to change the expectations of your marriage.
It’s important to remember that you aren’t alone when you’re trying to find ways to make your marriage work.
There are many couples who’ve been through similar situations and made it out the other side even stronger.
“My husband and I don’t have the same goals” – What now?
1) Talk about it
Before making any decisions, there needs to be plenty of talking done.
Do your best to understand each other. Hear each other out. Make time to voice your goals in detail and listen to your husbands.
It’s easy to make assumptions, and think we know what our partner is feeling and thinking.
Do you completely understand each other’s dreams, motivations, and intentions?
Talking about your “why’s” for whatever your life goals are can help you to better understand one another.
That doesn’t mean you won’t still have different goals. But you can strengthen your bond despite your differences simply by listening and empathizing with one another’s position.
It’s important to be honest. A lot of times people try to hide their true feelings from their partner.
They don’t tell them exactly what they really want because they are worried about rocking the boat.
But now is not the time to bury your true feelings. If you don’t share the same goals as your partner, then you need to talk about it.
2) Remember why you got married
Right now you are understandably noticing the differences between what you both want. It can be helpful to bring your attention back to the similarities you share.
Focus on what unifies you instead of where you feel divided.
This can help support your bond and bring you closer together so that you tackle your challenges from a more united front.
Ask yourself what you share in common. They may say that opposites attract, but according to plenty of research, the truth is that we are generally more drawn to partners who we share similarities with.
So, focus on what brings you together rather than what separates you. Remember why you fell in love with him.
What brought you two together? Was it because you shared the same values? Were you looking for someone to spend the rest of your life with? Or were you drawn to certain aspects of his personality?
Even though we all change, I’m willing to bet much of what you fell in love with still exists.
Remembering that connection helps you to stay focused on the positive aspects of your relationship. Hopefully you’ll be reminded how much you actually have in common with your significant other.
3) Try not to sweat the small stuff
If you are having trouble finding common ground, try not to get too hung up on the little things. The little things tend to add up over time, and before long, they become big issues.
Instead of focusing on the little things, focus on the bigger picture. You will notice that if you look at the big picture, you will often find some common ground.
Compatibility is complicated. You can still have surface differences, as long as firmer foundations such as deeper values and beliefs are aligned. Plenty of couples find that it doesn’t really matter if they have totally different interests and hobbies.
Maybe your spouse wants to go back to school while you want to start a family right away. Even though your timelines may need adjusting, maybe you still agree on the fact that you both do want to raise children together.
Keeping your eye on the big picture can help you to find the things that you can both agree upon.
Even though you might disagree on some smaller points, you can still build a strong foundation for your future.
At the same time, it is important to know your own boundaries.
Do couples need to have the same goals? The more complicated answer is that it depends on your deal personal breakers.
We all have different priorities, needs, and wants in life. If yours are at total odds with your husband’s, you’re going to have a much more difficult time navigating the relationship.
What are your deal breakers? What are the things you know you need in order to be happy? What can you let go of?
Knowing this will be important when it comes to making compromises.
4) Try to find a compromise
Even for couples who share the exact same goals, there will always be compromises that need to be made along the way.
It is almost impossible to come to an agreement on everything. So, even if you are 100% in sync on every single thing, there is always room for compromise.
Sometimes compromise means giving something up completely. Other times it means accepting less than what you really wanted.
Is there a way to meet in the middle?
For example, let’s say one of you wants to move somewhere and the other does not. Could you agree to a trial period for a certain amount of time, with the agreement of reevaluating how it’s going later?
The key here is to make sure that you are compromising for the right reasons.
Are you compromising because you feel like you have no choice? Are you compromising because you want to avoid conflict?
Or are you compromising because you genuinely believe in your partner, your marriage, and your future together?
The point is, that you should never compromise out of fear or guilt. If you are compromising because you think you have to, you are probably doing so for the wrong reason.
It is better to take a stand and say “no” than to cave in to pressure from your husband if you know you are going totally against what you really want.
Compromise doesn’t mean that you give up; it just means that you give up a little bit.
When you are willing to compromise, you are showing each other respect by making sure that both of you get your own way sometimes.
5) Accept that people change
You and your husband will change throughout your relationship. It’s inevitable as you grow as people. Things can never stay exactly the same.
We all have a right to change our minds. And as that happens our goals, priorities, and what we want can also change.
Sometimes those changes can feel subtle, but sometimes they are stark. Maybe your views on money, sex, parenting, religion, politics, etc. will all change over time.
It can feel like a betrayal when your partner changes their mind over something.
But resisting change is futile. The key is to accept that it happens and try your best to understand why it happened. Be as open as possible to new ideas.
This is where being open-minded is going to be very helpful in growing together through these changes, as opposed to growing further apart.
6) Get specific guidance for your specific situation
It is often the case that within our own relationships, we are too close to be able to see things objectively and clearly.
The feelings, thoughts, and emotions are strong and can make it very difficult to see your way out of your problems. That is why it can be really helpful to get guidance from an outside source.
Would you benefit from getting advice specific to your situation?
While this article explores the main things you can do when you and your husband don’t have the same goals, it can be helpful to speak to a relationship coach about your situation.
With a professional relationship coach, you can get advice specific to your life and your experiences…
Relationship Hero is a site where highly trained relationship coaches help people through complicated and difficult love situations, like when it feels like you and your partner are on different pages.
They’re a very popular resource for people facing this sort of challenge. How do I know?
Well, I reached out to them a few months ago when I was going through a tough patch in my own relationship. After being lost in my thoughts for so long, they gave me a unique insight into the dynamics of my relationship and how to get it back on track.
I was blown away by how kind, empathetic, and genuinely helpful my coach was.
In just a few minutes you can connect with a certified relationship coach and get tailor-made advice for your situation.
7) Don’t abandon your goals
If one or both of you feels like they have to change or abandon their goals for the sake of the relationship, it’s likely to end in resentment.
As I mentioned earlier, compromise is one thing, but you should never have to compromise yourself.
If your goals feel so misaligned that you cannot see a way to unify them and bring them together, can you each pursue your different goals separately?
Even if it’s only temporary or may mean making some bold choices.
For example, if one really wants to travel and the other does not. Can that be done alone?
Or if your career paths take you to different cities, are you prepared to explore a long-distance marriage for a while?
Be prepared to think outside of the box. No solutions are off the table if you both want it to work.
But don’t be so quick to abandon your goals. It can lead to personal regrets and relationship frustrations further down the line.
You may be a couple, but marriage will always be made up of two individuals with a right to their own needs.
One of the most important things you can do for your relationship is give yourself space to grow as individuals.
8) Don’t expect perfection
Perfection is unattainable. Even though you may have been married for years, you still won’t ever reach a complete understanding with another person.
If we’re honest it’s hard enough to truly ever know ourselves fully, let alone another — even when it’s your husband.
There will always be differences between two people. There will always be things about which you disagree.
I think we can put pressure on our relationships by expecting too much from them.
We want to feel 100% understood by a partner. It’s almost as though we want to move, feel, and think as one, even though we are two people.
It’s important to try not to force the issue, even if you can’t seem to find any common ground over your different goals.
Don’t put pressure on one another. You cannot ask someone to change who they are.
Instead of trying to force someone else to live up to your expectations, focus on improving yourself.
That way, you’ll be able to appreciate the good things about your spouse more and not fall into the trap of making them responsible for your happiness and needs.
Total self-responsibility is the key to creating happy and healthy intimate relationships.
9) Know that differences within a marriage can offer growth
It’s easy to assume that any emerging differences in what you and your spouse want from life mean something bad has happened.
But there could be many reasons why you and your spouse might be having trouble finding common ground.
Maybe you’ve grown apart as you’ve aged. Maybe you’re just experiencing a new stage in life where you need to make some changes. Or maybe you’ve had a rough patch in your relationship and now you’re looking to repair it.
Whatever the reason, you shouldn’t jump to conclusions that challenges are necessarily going to be bad for your relationship.
Just like all things in life, sometimes the difficult parts can ultimately prove to be the most rewarding when you come out of the other side.
Committed relationships like marriages offer powerful mirrors to see things reflected back at us. Their intensity is one of the reasons why they can be a hotbed of lessons to learn and opportunities for growth.
Accept that you may never agree on everything. Your beliefs and values are unique to you. And even if you share similar outlooks and goals on certain things, you may still come at these issues from very different perspectives.
This doesn’t mean you should give up on each other or stop loving one another.
Difficulties to overcome within a relationship aren’t a sign of failure or weakness. Instead, it shows you’re committed to being open with one another and willing to work together to resolve conflicts.
10) Decide whether the love you share and your relationship is strong enough
Relationships can be resilient enough to overcome many things if you both want it to work.
But sometimes partners do grow apart. Whether you try to come back together again will likely depend on how strong your loving feelings still are and the overall state of the relationship.
It takes genuine effort to grow together as a couple. Are you willing to put in the work?
Sometimes as challenging as it is, we need to have brutally honest conversations with ourselves and our partners about how we feel.
It can feel incredibly sad to walk away, but in some situations — when you feel like you have tried everything, the relationship is causing you both great pain, and you are at your wits end — it can feel as though it’s for the best.
If you love one another and want the marriage to work despite your differences, then you will need to make time and effort for each other and the relationship.
To conclude: My husband and I want different things in life
“I love him, but we want different things” is never an easy conclusion to reach.
It isn’t going to be an easy ride to navigate your way forward. Sometimes it’s going to all come down to:
- Just how different your visions for the future really are and whether they totally clash.
- How much of a priority your marriage really is to both of you.
- Just how much you are both willing and capable of compromising to try to find a more unified set of goals for your life together.
- If you can find a way to make space within the relationship for both of you to pursue your individual goals with each other’s support and blessing.
- The willingness to commit to making an effort to keep trying to build a stronger bond between you two.
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