There is nothing more terrifying than the unknown of the future, and sometimes talking about the future with your partner is just as terrifying. It's always fast approaching and something will not always go according to plan — but isn't that the most exciting part? One of the great things about being in a relationship with someone is essentially building a life together. It ultimately becomes less about the butterflies and more about the union one can have with another person. Although, butterflies are always a great bonus.
As years go on, one might start to wonder about the future of their relationship. You don't really want to be in a five-year relationship only to find out that your significant other doesn't have the same goals as you do. Before one might get too deep, it's best to have a conversation about the future state of a romantic relationship. Don't get me wrong, I completely understand how it can be deathly scary to be vulnerable and honest in front of someone if you're not sure if they feel the same, but that is the whole point about being in a relationship.
Ultimately, this is your time to put everything on the table. Take a step into one of the most important conversations you will have with your partner with these easy suggestions to help you go about it, whether you guys are thinking of moving in with each other or getting married.
1. Leave The Phones In Another Room
If you and your partner sit down to have a serious conversation about the future of your relationship, one of the most respectable things you could do is to simply put your phones away. Just like when you are working, it's best not to get distracted. Plus, it shows your partner that you care about what they are saying and that you are serious, too. My boyfriend and I recently had a serious talk about the future without our phones present, and it was refreshing to not have both of us checking whatever ding or noise that was coming from our phones. I felt more connected with him and we got distracted less often as well.
2. Remember To Listen As Much As You Are Talking
If you were the one that brought up the topic of conversation, you probably have a lot of worries or concerns in your head, but remember the reason why you brought the future up, because you want to know your partner's side of the story. It's always a good idea to have it be a give-and-take situation, say what you are feeling, and then really listen to what your partner is saying. The more they feel like they are being heard, the more open they might be with you and their emotions — heck, they might even realize somethings they never realized before.
According to a Good Therapy article, Irene Hansen Savarese, LMFT, a marriage and family therapist said, "As an effective listener, you are able to help your partner discover her/his feelings about a particular problem that she/he is having." When my boyfriend and I talked, I actually wanted him to go first about the topic. It allowed me to see where his mind was at and it allowed me to process what he was saying while I was listening. So if I had any worries or concerns, it cleared them up right away by him going first.
3. Don't Judge Or Feel Hurt By What Your Partner Is Saying
Sometimes these serious conversations don't always go the way you want. It's best to be prepared for that. When you are listening, don't throw a fit if you hear something that you don't like. Be understanding that it's hard for someone to be completely vulnerable in this situation. Personally, my facial expressions are usually just as loud as my words, and I try to control that to a degree during these conversations. I don't want my significant other to feel like I am judging them for what they are saying.
According to a Good Therapy article, Anne D. Ream MA, a marriage and family therapist said, "Understanding a person takes a lot more intellectual and emotional work than judgment does. True understanding comes from active listening and appreciation of what the other person is trying to convey." Try and take what they say and elaborate a little more when it comes to your turn about your concerns and your feelings. As you probably already know, communication is a really big deal for a relationship to work, especially a long-term relationship. So get to talkin'.
4. Don't Be Afraid To Be Completely Honest
This is when you need to leave all the cards on the table. Don't have a poker face, and just be completely open. No matter how long you have been in a relationship, the last thing you want to do is lie to yourself about the situation you are in. My current relationship has been through a lot of ups and down, and while it might be hard to be open and honest about certain things, it always helps. Also, don't just agree with whatever your partner says because you are afraid the relationship will end. It's totally healthy for couples to disagree. Seriously, it's healthy.
According to a Psychology Today article Dr. Barton Goldsmith, an award-winning psychotherapist said, "What honesty gives you is a great deal of comfort. Knowing you can implicitly trust your mate allows you to be your best self, and your relationship will continue to thrive because you are able to give each other the positive energy you need to navigate life’s ups and downs." Not everyone is the same, and that's why sometimes opposites attract. If you are afraid to speak your mind (respectfully, of course) about your worries and concerns because you are afraid of how they will react, then maybe this isn't the relationship for you. For a relationship to grow, it's needs to start being honest.
5. Go Deeper By Asking Questions
Don't be afraid to ask questions. If you are still concerned about a situation or about a previous statement, repeat what they said and ask them to elaborate so you can get a clear understanding as to what they were saying. Sometimes I can feel like I am integrating my partner, and while I wish I wasn't guilty of this, I know that it's just because I'm just curious about what my partner thinks. If only we could jump inside the minds of the one we love, it would make it so much easier, amiright?
6. Don't Think It's Too Late
Don't ever let your fear control your actions. If you are afraid to speak up, then you are not only hurting your relationship, but you're hurting yourself as well. Take the time to evaluate what you want to talk about and address it in a casual conversation, or make it light, and see what they say. There are plenty of ways of making a segway into a serious conversation without it being too serious.
According to a Psychology Today article, Dr. Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D., a professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst said, "...when couples constantly put their disagreements 'on pause,' they run the risk of never having the chance to resolve the underlying dispute." It's just not a good idea. I usually do this when I know we are taking long drives and we are talking about things aimlessly. When it's just the two of us in a car, it helps to keep things private and our topic secure. Truly, it's better late than never when it comes to relationships.
It's never easy to talk about the future, but it's important to be on the same page with your partner or, at the very least, have honesty be a huge part of your relationship. Take a moment, gather all your thoughts, and dive right in. Your partner will appreciate the honesty and will reciprocate.
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