Whether you are exploring a current relationship, committed to a partner, or still looking for your “special someone,” clarifying your own long-term goals and values will be useful. Asking yourself “What do I want in the long run?” makes your choice of a partner clearer and makes it easier to communicate your priorities within a relationship.
Before she met Charles, Jennifer went on one date with a perfectly nice man who retired so he could ride his motorcycle wherever his fancy took him. Jennifer is too much of a chicken to ride a motorcycle, likes home life, has ties to family, and is still working full time. Motorcycle Man was not exactly a match made in heaven.
In midlife and beyond, we realize that our time on Earth is not infinite, and we focus more on what we want to accomplish while we’re still here. This awareness is also helpful as you ponder a potential relationship or seek to enhance your present relationship. If what you want more than anything is to spend quality time with your young grandchildren and to be an important influence in their lives, you are not going to be very happy with a person who doesn’t enjoy the company of children. If your goal is to travel around the globe, a homebody is probably not the best match for you. Sometimes couples will work together on joint goals, and this can be exciting; sometimes you just want the space and support to do your own thing without worrying that it is eroding your relationship.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What are your three top short-term goals (for the next two years)?
- What are your three most important long-term goals (what you want to accomplish before you die)?
- What would you need from a partner to help you reach these goals?
If you are in a relationship, try to guess your partner’s short-term and long-term goals, and follow up by asking. If your guess is nowhere near your partner’s actual goals, this is a sign that your communication could use a boost. Schedule some quiet time together to talk about what is really important to each of you. Remember that you don’t get to pick the other person’s priorities – all you can do is listen and ask for clarification if you don’t fully understand. You can also suggest goals that the two of you might pursue together, identify specific things your partner can do to support your dreams, and ask what you can do to reciprocate.
If you are in the beginning stages of a relationship, be sure to ask your prospective partner about goals, dreams, and priorities in life. Pay close attention to whether a potential partner is truly interested in what you want in the long run, and see whether your goals mesh or complement each other. If you choose to stay together, you want your long-term goals to be in harmony.
Northwest psychologist and author Jennifer Y. Levy-Peck, PhD, and her husband Charles Peck are writing a book for baby boomers, seniors, and those over age 40 looking to create and maintain a romantic relationship that is wonderfully thrilling at any age. Their column, Magic at Midlife, will appear regularly in www.northwestprimetime.com. You can participate in the creation of their book (and enter to win a $100 Amazon gift card) by sharing your experiences in a survey: www.surveymonkey.com/s/MidlifeRelationships. Northwest Prime Time is a monthly publication for retirees and those contemplating retirement. It can be found in the greater Seattle area and other Puget Sound locations. For more information, call 206-824-8600 or visit www.northwestprimetime.com.
Copyright 2013 by Jennifer Y. Levy-Peck and Charles Peck
Previous Magic at Midlife Columns:
Learning from Your Relationship History
When Extrovert Meets Introvert
Creating Holidays for Changing Families