What should you and your partner do if you have competing goals and priorities?
I got a call while at work. It was my fifteen-year-old daughter. She wanted me to pick up mascara — yes, you read that correctly, mascara, not bread or milk, but mascara.
I reminded her what I’d told her and her sister — never to call me while I was at work unless it was an emergency. She replied, yes, I know. This is an emergency. I have a party tonight. I need mascara.
I realized I should have been clear about what exactly an emergency would entail as far as I was concerned. Not wanting to pass an obvious teachable moment, before hanging up I explained what I would consider an emergency — an event that involved loss of blood or loss consciousness — looking good at a party did not qualify as an emergency from my perspective.
This story highlights two things — how different all our values are and how we prioritize them differently.Your money should be managed in alignment with what you value. But the truth is, many people do not know what their core values are.
Yes, we all value safety, security, love, and respect. But we don’t all place them in the same level of importance. So, what are your top 5 core values? When my daughters were young, safety and security were one of my top five values. Now that they are adults, freedom and intimacy dominate.
Once you know what your values are, it makes it that much easier to manage your finances. I can say “no’ to some things so I can say ‘yes’ to what aligns with what I value.
What happens, however, when your values and priorities are not aligned with those of your partner? One of you may be great at saving money and the other may be someone who uses credit freely. Your money personality types could be on the opposite ends of the spectrum.
And, what happens if you both have conflicting priorities? He wants to complete his Ph.D., and your biological clock is screaming at you to start a family? Or he wants to retire abroad, and you don’t?
How do you compromise? How can you support each other without compromising your needs?
Here are some ideas:
- Communicate openly what is most important to you. This can only be done once you are crystal clear about what you value.
- Listen to the heart of your partner and what matters to them.
- Share what you both want as individuals, as a couple, and as a family (if you have kids).
- Make a list of your goals — as individuals and as a couple. When would you like to achieve them?
- Create a financial plan. How much can you afford to put aside each month to meet each other’s goals?
- Look for ways to compromise? E.g., Your spouse wants to retire abroad, and you want to stay put so you can be part of your grandchildren’s lives. How about living abroad for half the year?
- What areas can you reduce your expenses to help each other’s visions come to fruition?
Bringing It All Together
Decide how important your relationship is to you. Relationships are about negotiating needs. It can be challenging but also rewarding. If maintaining a healthy relationship is what you need, then open and honest communication is a great place to start.
Not meeting our dreams and goals can breed resentment. You don’t have to sacrifice your relationship to achieve your goals and, neither do you have to sacrifice your dreams for your relationship. Negotiate your needs.
Prioritize them. Be clear about what is merely a wish and what is a compelling goal. Aim to achieve the most important goals. What are you willing to do to achieve them while maintaining a close dynamic relationship with your partner? In many instances, helping your partner achieve their dreams just may help you get closer to yours!