Making a Commitment - Home Life and Beyond
The vast majority of couples now live together before getting married so you may think that the way you run your life together is already sorted and won’t change.
Couples with children are often surprised how quickly they fall into traditional roles within the home in spite of their commitment to share things fifty-fifty. It is really important not to get stuck in a rut and to negotiate a way of living together that feels fair and supportive of each other.
Recognizing each others strengths and finding roles and responsibilities to suit can be the key to success. But be aware that things won’t remain the same over the course of your life together. Be prepared to renegotiate as circumstances and needs change.
Reaching a comfortable compromise means understanding what each of you is giving and what each of you is taking. When you look at the different chores needed to keep your home life running smoothly, try to sort them by the time taken and the frequency – gardening may take time but not be done on a daily basis whereas some chores need to be done every day.
Time together and apart
When a couple first fall in love they tend to spend as much time together as possible, but after a while it is natural to want to have “me” time, time with friends or just to be on your own. ‘Changes and Stages of Relationships’ will help you share your expectations of time you will spend together and apart.
Again it is important to be open about your expectations – this might need careful negotiation as many couples find their lives dominated by work so finding any time to see friends and family can be hard.
Remember that when we argue about spending time together we are often expressing the basic need to feel respected and loved. So make sure your partner knows that they matter. If it helps think back over your relationship up till now – list the things you most enjoy doing together – now think about how you might build on these shared interests. For example if you both really enjoy Sunday walks maybe you could plan a walking holiday, or is there a sport you’ve both always wanted to try or a particular trip that you both like? But giving your partner permission to enjoy something you don’t is also important. Let them have “their” time while you have “your“ time.
Relationships with in-laws and extended families
Getting married means getting a whole new set of relationships – the in-laws – a source of support and a source of tension. These new relationships can be sensitive, we may feel able to criticise our own family but feel hurt and threatened when our partner does the same. Sometimes you will feel torn between your partner and your family, so be honest with each other when you feel pulled in too many different directions. Finding the right balance is something you and your partner will have to work out for yourselves.
The impact of extended families can be overwhelming when a couple is starting out on their new life together. Understanding any religious and cultural differences before getting married with regards to the role of the extended family is crucial. Be honest about each of your expectations and how much involvement you want extended family to have in your life together – and agree to what you are both comfortable with. Again this shouldn’t be set in stone and will change with circumstances and over time.
Try to keep a balance in visiting each respective branch of the family. Where there are obvious difficulties, talk about this and don’t insist on forcing visits that are uncomfortable or unpleasant.
Now for more help why not look at:
- Introduction to Bringing Up Children
- Postcards from the Edge - Deciding how to bring up the children
- Introduction to Family and friends
- Introduction to Housework
- Introduction to work
- Psychologists Perspective on Work
- Relationship Insight – Vicious Cycle
- Relationship Insight - Journey to Shared Goals
- Relationship Insight - Hidden Issues
- Relationship Insight - Changes and Stages of Relationships
- Exercise - Everyday time
- Exercise – Managing Time together
- Exercise – The flip side
- Exercise – Our family customs
Listed below are the other articles in the Making a Commitment series: