I get a kick out of reading advice columns and, recently, it was a Carolyn Hax column. The title grabbed me: “Reexamine goals with ‘aimless’ husband.” It is about a problem that is pretty common in marriage – unclear expectations.
The question is from a successful woman. In her marriage of a couple years, she is the primary breadwinner and money manager. Her dilemma focuses on their joint goals. The woman explains that her spouse is slightly younger and is “the man of my dreams.”
The problem is that, in his mid-thirties, he’s “still struggling” to find a career. He has a lot of new starts but at the time of the writing, had a part-time, hourly wage job. Her problem is that they have specific goals. They won’t achieve those goals unless he make an actual income. And, when she talks to him about getting an income-producing job, he calls her a “dream-crusher.”
When answering, Hax questions whether the couple’s goals. She asks if her dream-man really shares the same goals. She sees goals “gap” and questions whether the two are on the same page about their future. Does he really want the same goals she does? Or, did “he just nodded agreeably to the dreams of the person he loves” to make her happy?
I think that’s a pretty common problem in marriage. In fact, in any relationship. How many times do you have a conversation with your sweetie – or a co-worker or friend – and think you’re in agreement, but later found out you weren’t?
In a marriage, it’s the kind of thing that can kill the love.
I find that, in any partnership, when you’re going in the same direction, and both partners are “in it to win it,” they go farther faster. When they aren’t, one person is spinning wheels and getting frustrated while the other is wondering why. Or just doesn’t care…because s/he didn’t want that goal from the beginning.
It’s the kind of problem the Five-Year Marriage helps couples handle because:
- The couple makes a joint agreement about their goals and they put it in writing.
- There is an end-date to their agreement. There is something about a deadline to helps people get and stay focused (vs. open-ended agreements). The advice column’s “dreamboat” who can’t find himself is likely to be more motivated to get his act together if he knows there’s an end-date.
- The couple has a vehicle in which to review and, if they get off-course, get back on the same page (Family Meetings).
What do you think?
About the The Five-Year Marriage: It will be in bookstores in February 2018. Stay tuned to find out when and how you can get an advanced copy!