Current Culture and Commitment – What are People Truly Looking For?
In recent years there has been a popular trend for individuals to make up a list of every quality they are looking for in a partner. These lists get revised, added to, deleted from, and sometimes ripped up in frustration by those who committed themselves to following their list but still have not been able to find a partner.
Sometimes people stop seeing someone simply because they lack one or two “qualities” that are not on the list. But is it really a matter of just finding someone who is an exact replica of the list? Is that what people are truly looking for? Probably not. How many people have met someone who fit all their criteria yet still there was no spark? If people hope to succeed in finding what they are looking for, they need to be honest with themselves first. If you truly are not looking for a committed relationship at this point in your life, then own it. Be honest with others and don’t lead them to believe you are looking for commitment when you actually are not. By not wasting their time, you also don’t waste your time getting involved with someone who wants more than what you do.
If you truly can say you are looking for a committed relationship, be open and flexible enough to look beyond your list. Most people, when they strip away all their superfluous wants, actually just want unconditional love. They want a partner who cares about them and who values and respects them. Dr. Phil, a famous psychologist, often uses the terminology of being “a soft fall” for each other. That means being willing to open up to another person and creating an intimacy that only two people can share with each other. Does a person really want to open up to another individual and become vulnerable through intimacy if they think they can expect a scolding for not picking up their socks or because they “failed” at being a good cook? Couples often struggle because they only look at the superficial, rather than having the maturity to look deeper at what a lasting relationship can offer.
Finding what you are really looking for, means starting with yourself. Are you mature? Are you forgiving? Are you focused only on the superficial? Do you actually like the opposite sex and are you planning to give of yourself to be their companion, or are you just looking for them to give you something? When you are ready to give, rather than focusing on what you want to get, that is a good first step. Don’t stop looking until you find someone who feels the same way.
Combining Finances as a Couple
Sometimes there seems to be a lot of hype surrounding couples and their finances. Everyone is looking for a magic formula that will somehow allow them to comfortably fill their bank account, while effortlessly bringing peace and harmony to their relationship. In reality, there is no one magic formula that works for all couples. What works for one particular couple might create issues if another couple tried the same method.
Managing money is simply one more task that most individuals have to address throughout their lifetime. Just as with household chores, childcare activities and work responsibilities, couples must carve out a plan that works for their unique needs. Above all, couples must understand the peace and harmony of their relationship is their number one priority. Once they understand their relationship’s integrity is what is truly important, they can negotiate and delegate the various responsibilities of life between the two of them, including money management.
Some couples might find it works best to put one of them in charge of the finances who makes sure all the bills are paid and the other partner receives what amounts to an allowance for inconsequentials. Other couples find it works best to keep separate accounts. They divvy up the monthly obligations and each partner ensures they pay their portion of bills every month.
For long-term financial goals, an annual or semi-annual discussion with each other, much as they would with a financial planner, is a good way to touch base with each other. Sharing ideas and thoughts and ensuring both parties are comfortable with the trajectory of their long-term plan will go a long way to keeping couples feeling good about their financial future.
As with any partnership, there might be times when the two parties simply do not agree with each other. This is where compromise and negotiating comes into play. For example, if your spouse wants to save 20% of your combined take-home pay and you want to save 5%, compromise at 10% or 12%. Each partner might not get everything they wanted, but both parties did receive at least a portion of their desires and that is probably enough to maintain harmony within their relationship.
Overall, financial strategies for blended families should not be that much different from strategies for a traditional family. Hopefully couples have already talked about such things as their current finances and their financial goals for the future. In addition, they should have already created a budget to ensure their daily living expenses are covered after their marriage, with an eye toward saving money for future expenses such as a home or a large purchase such as another vehicle.
Both adult parties of the blended family, in order to get off on the right foot, also need to understand there could be monthly expenses from prior relationships or marriages such as alimony or child support. The best way to minimize issues with these types of monthly obligations is with simple acceptance. Couples are better served by presenting a united front and tackling what might be a tight budget, together, rather than going into separate emotional corners and considering thoughts like, “it’s his alimony payment, not mine” or “her ex should support her child, not me”.