Stress in relationships is unavoidable. Children, finances, careers, as well as life’s daily responsibilities seem to be the most common stressors couples face. However, what about when one partner is working towards a personal or professional goal when the other partner is not? This is a trend happening more and more in society and the amount of stress and pressure put on a relationship in this situation is tremendous.
You may have heard it before, “I am thinking that I should go back to school” or “I am thinking that I should change my career”. Or, perhaps your partner is still working towards their degree or career development when you find yourself more settled in these areas. The love and connection which drew you to one another is there, but there is a big challenge with being in two different places in life which affects every aspect of the relationship.
Communication is one of the most important things couples can prioritize in situations such as this. It is imperative for each partner to communicate their feelings, expectations, and concerns to one another so that each partner can work together to solve any issues which may arise. If your partner inquires about your opinion of them going back to school or about a career change, be honest with them about how you feel. Many people fear being honest can be viewed as being unsupportive, however, this is not the case. You can share how you feel, honestly and openly, while still being supportive. For example, “I am concerned about how your decision will impact us a couple, but I want to support your personal goals as well…” If one partner chooses not to be honest out of fear of being viewed as unsupportive, this could lead to potential issues down the road such as resentment or frustration. On the flip slide, if you are the partner interested in making some kind of change, it is important to communicate this desire to your partner prior to making the decision. Remember, you are a team and decisions which impact the team dynamic should not be made lightly or individually. Additionally, it is important to allow your partner the space to express their concerns without them feeling as though they are going to upset your or be viewed as unsupportive. Communication and honesty are the keys for any major decision making in relationships.
If you are just starting a relationship with someone who is in the midst of finishing their education or is changing or advancing their career goals, be mindful of your own personal feelings about this before getting further into the relationship. Not everyone can manage the stress of having a partner who is busy or heavily invested in something outside of the relationship and that is OK. Beginning a relationship with someone in this situation without processing your own emotions about the situation could lead to frustration or resentment towards your partner as a result. Now, perhaps you think that this is something you can manage and are willing to give it a try. Be mindful of yourself, your triggers, and feelings as things progress and continue to verbalize any concerns which arise to your partner as well.
Career and education advancement is stressful for both partners
Stress is another important factor to note. Career or education advancements will be stressful for the person taking on this challenge. Additionally, the supportive partner is going to feel this stress as well. When couples begin to feel stressed, they often take their stress out on one another. This may result in arguments or a strain on the relationship. It is important for each individual to have an outlet of their own as well as a set of coping skills to manage their stressors. Individual and/or couple’s counseling is a helpful option as these offer a venue for each person to learn effective ways to manage stressors and improve upon communication skills.
Managing a successful relationship is difficult. Life is not perfect and situations will undoubtedly arise which will test the relationship’s stability. No one can predict how situations will ultimately play out, however, there is some control in the way one can prepare for these situations ahead of time to hopefully make transitions into new adventures smoother than just jumping into something blindly. You have every right to want to make changes which better you in some way, but when you are in a committed relationship, it is not fair to leave your partner out of loop. Similarly, remember that each person in a relationship is also an individual with their own needs and wants. It is important to find that balance with one another of being supportive while remaining realistic to the limits within the relationships.
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More by Sarah Marandi Steeves