Being empathetic may come naturally for some, but that doesn't mean all hope is lost.
If you clicked on this blog, you’re either:
A.) Wondering if that person you have a hard time with has a chance of growing into an empathetic individual or if they’re stuck as they are forever, or
B.) Trying to figure this out for yourself.
For the sake of clarity, I’m going to talk to you. But you can also apply this information to that sister, or friend, or mother-in-law that you feel doesn’t feel (or however you want to define your perception of them).
For the sake of your time: YES. Empathy can be learned. (Phew!)
Research suggests that genetics determine about 50 percent of how empathetic a person is. The other 50-ish percent can be learned.
Here’s how Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines empathy:
“The action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.”
Basically, an empathetic person can understand and share another’s feelings. But it doesn’t come naturally for everyone, right?
Here are some things you can do if you need to learn empathy because it doesn’t come naturally:
1. Understand that you are biased. Everyone is.
Every moment you’ve experienced has formed itself into the larger story of you, your life, who you are, and why. Think about the moments that have influenced you. Whatever comes to mind has shaped who you are right now. Your moments have been just as impactful as those that have shaped your sister, husband, father-in-law, or co-worker. Their moments have molded them differently. Their moments impact every decision they make, just as your moments have for you. This leads to my next point…
The next time you speak with someone, let your primary goal be to learn more about them. Jodi Halpern, psychiatrist and bioethics professor at the University of California, says that the core of empathy is curiosity. As you ask and learn about the experiences that have shaped the person you’re engaging with, you may empathize with them more. It will also help you understand that who they are is a result of what they’ve experienced.
3. Read stories.
Dr. Helen Riess (author of The Empathy Effect) says this about reading: “You enter the thoughts, heart and mind of another person who’s not like you, and it really does break down barriers.” What an amazing excuse to curl up with a good story – yes, fiction applies to this.”
4. Join in.
The thing about empathy is that it’s not passive. In A Way of Being, clinical psychologist professor Carl Rogers put it this way: “Empathy involves being sensitive, moment to moment, to the changing felt meanings which flow in this other person, to the fear or rage or tenderness or confusion or whatever, that [they] are experiencing. It means temporarily living in [their] life…”
What Rogers describes is what it looks like to engage in another person’s life and experience. A great way to engage with people is to volunteer in your community. It’s one thing to witness brokenness (i.e., the homeless man who frequents the same bench on your commute to work). It’s entirely another thing to serve within the brokenness (i.e., feeding the man). The former is passive, and the latter is active.
You’re normal if empathy is not something that comes naturally to you.
You are not a hopeless case (and I hope no one has ever made you feel like you are because that’s just not true).
Take a breather. You can learn. I urge you to remember that everyone has things that don’t come naturally to them. Yours just happens to be empathy. You have everything you need to care deeply for others, but you don’t have to do this alone. Let someone you trust know about your plan for working on empathy so they can come alongside you in your journey and offer assistance/accountability when needed. You can do this!
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Untitled-1-01-3.png5001200First Things Firsthttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngFirst Things First2021-09-30 11:58:252022-06-27 14:34:46Can Empathy Be Learned?
Try these steps to prevent miscommunication in your relationships!
Have you ever gotten frustrated with your spouse because they didn’t listen to you? Misunderstood someone? Been misunderstood? I have. We’ve all miscommunicated and misunderstood. As the poet said, “To err is human.”
At the heart of most relationship issues lies miscommunication. Whether it is parent to child, husband to wife, spouse to an in-law, or friend to friend, missteps in communication have the potential to devastate a relationship. Big time.
Communication is an art. But, how do we improve it? How do we lessen the misunderstandings in our relationships?
In his book, Happily Ever After, Gary Chapman suggests that we can master the art of communication with these three tools:
The Art of Listening
If you haven’t already figured it out, you can’t read minds. And no one can read yours. That’s really a good thing. (Flashback to Mel Gibson becoming overwhelmed when he can hear the thoughts of every woman around him in What Women Want.)
We can observe behavior, though. That starts with listening.
Dr. Chapman breaks down listening into five steps:
1. Ask questions.
Asking questions that show you’re sincerely interested in someone’s answers is far more effective than simply assuming you know why they do what they do.
2. Don’t interrupt.
We’re all tempted to jump in and finish someone else’s thoughts, but doing that is harmful to the conversation. Chapman writes, “The purpose of listening is to understand, not make a point.”
3. Clarify meaning.
We often listen from our perspective. Take the time to ask additional questions and understand exactly what they’re saying. Repeat it back to them if necessary. You can always say, “Let me make sure I understand what you’re saying.” Then tell them what you heard.
4. Express appreciation.
Thank them for sharing. You don’t have to affirm what they said if you disagree. “You are affirming their humanity, the right to think and feel differently from other people,” Chapman explains.
Now, this is important: You must complete these four steps to earn the right to move on to number five.
5. Share your perspective.
“Because you listened, you are far more likely to be listened to,” Chapman stresses. You haven’t interrupted, you’ve clarified what they said, and you affirmed that they have value. Now you may share your viewpoint.
The Art of Speaking for Yourself
A crucial practice when communicating is to use “I” statements instead of “you” statements.
“When we begin a sentence with you, we are speaking as though we have ultimate knowledge of a person. In reality, we have only a perception,” Chapman shares.
“You” statements can come across as accusatory and may lead to arguments. They are based on assumptions. Assuming is dangerous when it comes to relationships.
Beginning a thought with “I” shows you are revealing your feelings and your thoughts. You’re indicating a problem without condemning the other person.
Instead of saying something like “You never listen to me,” try saying, “I don’t always feel heard.”
The Art of Negotiating
If you’ve been in any type of relationship, you know compromise is king. We all think differently and have different experiences.
When you learn how to effectively negotiate, you can build bridges with others.
“Making a proposal is the first step in the process of negotiating. The second step is listening carefully to counterproposals,” Chapman notes. “Remember, negotiating has to do with two people trying to understand each other and reach an agreement that both of them will feel good about.”
“A proposal opens the opportunity for dialogue,” he continues. “The process of listening, understanding, and seeking to find an agreement is the process of negotiation.” When negotiating, it’s essential to get into the habit of making requests, not demands.
Your relationships are worth the effort to master the art of communication. We’ll all make mistakes and miscommunicate from time to time, for sure. But you have value, and the people you are in a relationship with also have value. Take the time to communicate effectively and show lots of grace. Remember, to err is human.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Untitled-1-01-2.png5001200Mitchell Quallshttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngMitchell Qualls2021-09-30 11:39:072021-09-30 12:12:40The Art of Communication
I have been a resentful spouse. My spouse has also resented me. Coming up on 28 years of marriage, my wife and I have five children, and we’ve seen it all. From socks that never made it to the hamper, to financially disastrous decisions, to weaponized sex, to disagreements about parenting, to not getting simple tasks done around the house, to navigating personality quirks. And did I mention infidelity? Yup, infidelity.
There are tons more examples, big and little. It’s not a contest. Whatever brought you to this blog is the biggest thing in your world. Nobody is dealing with resentment exactly the same way you are. But no matter why or how you arrived at this blog, resentment is a tumor in your marriage, and without proper treatment, it will keep growing.
Tumor?! Why would I refer to resentment with your spouse as a tumor? Resentment is a negative emotion that builds up over time. If you don’t deal with it, it will poison more and more of your relationship. It will come to dominate your marriage, making romance, compassion, and intimacy all but impossible. And the sooner you catch it, the easier it will be to treat.
Resentment cannot be taken lightly, but it does have a relatively straightforward solution. Each spouse will have to communicate – probably in a series of conversations. Each will have to express themselves appropriately and honestly. And each will have to listen to the other in good faith. The goal is to compromise and implement a plan. The plan will no doubt be revisited and modified. Resentment should yield resilience.
Compromise and a Plan
The beauty of compromise and a plan is that they’re tangible and measurable. Ideally, as you see your spouse working toward compromise and following the plan, you can be confident. Perhaps confident enough to let go of some resentment and rekindle that spark you once felt. And when your spouse feels that spark, it’ll feed their efforts. Watch that positive cycle go!
So how can you put together a plan and work toward compromise? Here’s a 6-step process you can use as a guide. This isn’t an end-all-be-all on how to stop resentment. But instead, use these steps to help guide you and your spouse toward a compromise and a plan you both agree on that works for your relationship.
A Plan for Working Through Resentment With Your Spouse
1. Catch it early.
It’s much easier to manage and process through resentment before it builds.
2. Communication is everything.
This assumes you feel safe communicating in your marriage. You might need an older, wiser mentor couple. You might need a therapist or counselor. And you might need to establish some rules:
Each person gets to speak uninterrupted for 10 minutes.
Try to separate the person from the behavior.
Use “I” statements: I feel, I need, I’m hurting.
Don’t escalate with volume, tone, sarcasm, or words meant to just inflict hurt.
Focus on being a good listener. Remember your body language.
3. The source of the resentment in your marriage needs to be front and center.
“When you do _____ it makes me feel _____.”
“I’m having a hard time moving past _____.”
“I don’t think you understand how much _____ hurt me.”
“We’ve talked about changing _____, but it hasn’t changed.”
4. Compromise is the goal. Both spouses need to win so the marriage wins.
5. Develop a plan for handling the situation(s) in the future. Write it down.
Think through different scenarios and have a plan for them.
The plan is the accountability and enforcement, not the spouse.
You can always revisit the plan and modify it where necessary.
6. Last but not least, start again with a clean slate. In good faith, you move forward.
The clean slate is going to be the hardest part. You’re hurt and you’re defensive. You’re in survival mode. Trust may have been broken. But if you really want to deal with resentment in your marriage, you have to move forward in good faith, with patience, believing the best, and extending grace. And hopefully, you will watch the downward spiral of resentment slowly stop as the positive emotions pick up some momentum.
For my wife and I, we’ve gone so far as to say, “THAT marriage is over. We start a new marriage TODAY.”
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Untitled-2-01.png5001200John Daumhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJohn Daum2021-09-23 14:24:452021-11-10 14:05:37Working Through Resentment With Your Spouse
You won't believe how it benefits you, your spouse, and your relationship!
Compassion is important in marriage!
Did you know that there’s a whole science behind compassion in relationships? Seriously! Ok, bear with me, even if you’re not a researchy-geek like me (I promise I won’t make this sound like your high school chemistry book.) Because compassion is majorly important in marriages, even more so than you might think. And research has a lot to say about it.
Just like anything sciency, it’s essential to define terms well. And sometimes compassion, empathy, and sympathy get mixed up. Let’s untangle that.
Sympathy = You share the same feelings or experiences with someone else. They hurt, you hurt. You can sympathize.
Empathy = You don’t share the same feelings or experiences, but you choose to imagine what it might be like. They hurt; you don’t but can put yourself in their shoes. You can empathize.
And then we come to compassion. This is when you empathize/sympathize with someone (say, your spouse), and you’re prompted to show kindness in their situation.
They hurt. You empathize/sympathize. You say something to lift their spirits. Compassion!
So, sympathy/empathy are only the beginning of compassion. One study even suggests being empathetic is good to a point, but it can actually affect you negatively unless it’s followed up by compassion.1
So compassion is more than a feeling. (Classic rock fans, anyone?) Or maybe it’s more accurate to say, compassion isn’t really beneficial unless it’s put into action. One researcher describes compassionate acts as “caregiving that is freely given.”2
Think about this in your marriage.
No matter what your spouse experiences, good days or bad, you can:
Y’all…we should be doing this all the time in our marriage!
Why? (Here we go with the science again…) Research3 tells us compassion is good for you, your spouse, and your marriage!
Compassion toward a spouse predicts higher levels of daily relationship and life satisfaction for both people. (Don’t miss this: happiness in marriage goes up on a daily basis! Who doesn’t want that?)
Compassionate acts benefit the emotional and mental well-being of the person receiving them (in this case, your spouse).
The person who is acting compassionately toward their spouse also experiences a positive effect on their well-being, even if the spouse doesn’t necessarily recognize the compassionate act!
Bottom line:Compassionate acts do a marriage good.
It makes you a better spouse. It makes your spouse a better person. And it makes your marriage more loving, intimate, and strong.
Let’s consider one more reason why compassion might be one of the most important qualities in marriage. No matter who you are, most of us would agree that the world could always use a little more compassion. What if the real power of compassion in our world begins with compassionate action in our marriages and families? We know kindness is contagious.4 As they say: as families go, so goes the world.
So, inject some compassionate action into your marriage — for your spouse, for you, for the world.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Untitled-1-01-2.png5001200Chris Ownbyhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngChris Ownby2021-08-10 09:45:532021-09-21 13:01:28Why Compassion is One of the Most Important Qualities in a Healthy Marriage
I think one partner in every marriage has heard or thought the phrase, “You don’t care.” I’ve learned to interpret that in my own marriage like this: I’m not showing any compassion.
Compassion is where empathy meets action.
It’s the difference between caring and showing care. You want your spouse to know you can feel their pain, and you’re willing to do something about it. And studies show that you’re better off for showing compassion whether your spouse acknowledges it or not.
Do you want to be more compassionate to your spouse? Sure you do! Here are some tips.
Put your energy into understanding.
Compassion starts with listening for understanding. Listen, not for how you can fix it or be right, but to understand your spouse’s thoughts, emotions, and desires. The Gottman Institute’s research tells us, “Most of the time, when your mate (or anyone) comes to you with an issue that has made them upset, they don’t immediately ask for advice. They are silently asking for your understanding and compassion. They want to feel that you are on their side.”
Action: Respond in a way that demonstrates you understand or that you want to better understand. Avoid trying to fix the issue.
Step outside of yourself.
Things affect people differently. You may not react to disappointment, pain, or betrayal the way your spouse would. If you respond differently than your spouse, try laying your preferences down and allowing your spouse to be true to themselves. Accept them as they are and support them.
Action: Validate your spouse through words, physical affection, and comfort.
Never forget: your spouse is human, too.
He’s your husband. She’s your wife. The parent of your children. Your knight in shining armor. Your queen. All that may be true. But they are also a person with emotions, ups and downs, disappointments, and unrealistic expectations at times. They make mistakes, and they might have a lapse in judgment here or there. In other words, we all have our imperfections. Treating a spouse as though they shouldn’t make mistakes will block compassion.
Action: Give your partner space to be human. Give them grace when things don’t go their way. Avoid placing unrealistic expectations of perfection on them. Don’t treat them like a title: husband/wife, parent, provider. Instead, treat them like they’re your favorite human on the planet.
Stop what you’re doing and go “all-in.”
Sometimes when your spouse is having a difficult time, you have to just turn the TV off. Silence those cell phone notifications. Cancel a social outing. Remind your spouse that the world can go on, but right now, “my world is stopping until you get what you need from me.” Do this before there’s a panic attack, nervous breakdown, or an explosion of pent-up anger.
Action: Ask, “What do you need from me at this very moment?”
Each of you brings different strengths and tendencies to the relationship. Our tendencies can sometimes leave us vulnerable to mistakes. For instance, your go-getter spirit can cause you to overcommit your time, which causes stress. Your kindness can allow others to take advantage of you. You often have the choice to criticize or be compassionate toward your spouse.
Criticism will help point out all their “flaws.” Compassion will look for ways to cover their blind spots.
Action: Be the spouse that recognizes blind spots. And with a generous spirit, help fill the gaps. For example, be the friend to your spouse that they are to others. Do a little more housework when your spouse is stressed.
Pillow talk and morning coffee…
Compassion is at its best when we intimately know the recipient of our compassion, a.k.a. spouse. We don’t learn them through osmosis. Sometimes the only way to get the answer to being more compassionate is to talk about it. This is the perfect kind of conversation to have at night while lying in bed.
Action: Give your spouse undivided attention before bedtime or during morning coffee. Ask, “What does the word compassion mean to you?” What does compassion look like to you? What do I do that makes you feel cared for or understood?”
Sometimes we can be our kindest, most understanding selves toward strangers, but I’m here to tell you: it should be the other way around. The ones closest to us should be the first recipients of our compassion. Admittedly, it takes intentionality. Remember that your favorite human is the one you said “I do” to. And now that you remember it, treating them like it will help them believe they really are your favorite.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Untitled-1-01-1.png5001200Reggie Madisonhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngReggie Madison2021-08-10 09:30:092021-12-10 09:23:34How to Be More Compassionate to Your Spouse
A good relationship is worth the risk you may have to take.
What do you do when you don’t like your friend’s friend? This is a tricky but common situation.
And for the record, we aren’t talking about someone in your friend’s life who just rubs you the wrong way. This goes considerably deeper than personality. Still, let’s leave no room for misunderstanding.
First, let’s ask some clarifying questions.
Could it be you? Are you the jealous type? Prone to overreacting? (Sorry. Had to ask.)
Could this person be awful at first impressions? How much have you been around them? (Without being all gossipy, is anyone else in your friend circle picking up on this?)
Is this person truly toxic? A bad influence on your friend? Are you legitimately worried about your friend?
Okay, so number three is on the table. You’re worried about your friend. They seem to have a blind spot about this person, and this “friend” negatively influences them. This obviously isn’t cool.
Second, let’s wrap our heads around what’s going on.
This person may be in a bad season of life, and their negativity is affecting your friend.
This person may be making lifestyle choices that you know go against your friend’s values, and you see your friend heading that way.
He or she may be in a bad relationship, divorcing, or divorced, and they are poisoning your friend’s relationship or view of marriage.
This person might be vocal about their views on sex, faithfulness, integrity, and they’re encouraging your friend to move outside their boundaries and character.
Your friend may be in a vulnerable position and highly susceptible to influence.
You may have already seen changes in your friend that concern you.
If you see any of these things, or something similar, a conversation with your friend is in order.
Research shows that we are wired to catch and spread emotions and behaviors just like we catch and spread a cold or virus.
Psychologists use the term “social contagion” to describe how individuals or groups influence us. Simple examples include yawns and smiles, but they can also include infidelity and divorce. As much as we want to think we’re our own person, we are all susceptible to the influence of others — both positive and negative. It’s not uncommon to see it happening to our friends while they’re oblivious to it. We have blind spots.
What do you do when your friend has a toxic friend who is a bad influence on them?
Friends help friends see their blindspots. Sometimes our friend’s immediate response is gratitude. Sometimes it can be anger or resentment. Often, it depends on the rapport you have with your friend and the trust you’ve developed in that relationship.
Bottom line: You have to use your judgment. Do you have “relationship capital” built up with your friend to call them out on how they’re changing or being influenced? Has the “threat” risen to the level that you are willing to risk your friendship?
You’re a quality friend for caring. You gotta do something about this because that’s what quality friends do. But you’re also aware that this sort of thing can go sideways and, worst-case scenario, you could lose a friend over it.
Know this. Believe this. You’re responsible for bringing your concerns to your friend.
Be tactful, respectful, and direct. Your friend is responsible for how they respond. Truth. You have to know that you’re doing what good friends do. Your friend is responsible for their reaction, which is entirely out of your control. Are you prepared to lose a friend because of your sense of duty, responsibility, loyalty, and being a quality friend?
Sadly, this is what it often comes down to in the short term. Sometimes your friend will be grateful after they’ve processed what you’ve said, heard similar things from other friends, or experienced some negativity. But it’s hard on you to lose some standing with a friend or have to watch them learn something the hard way.
Keep your concern about your friend front and center rather than negativity about your friend’s friend who has you concerned. You won’t regret speaking the truth from a caring heart.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Untitled-5-01-1.png5001200John Daumhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJohn Daum2021-07-13 11:05:072021-07-16 11:21:28When You Don’t Like Your Friend’s Friend
Do your homework on the topic and move forward from there.
You may be trying to decide: Should we move in together? Or perhaps you already live together and have some questions.Is living together bad for your relationship? Is this going to be good or bad for us?
You’ve probably heard lots of strong opinions. Let me be straight-up with you;there’s no simple answer.
I hope to give you information that you may not have known before and let you come to your own conclusions. That’s how we make wise decisions about relationships, right? Find out all you can, weigh the arguments on both sides (even if you lean to one side at first), and go from there. That’s what I hope you’ll do.
Some of what makes this question not-so-simple is that you’re dealing with likelihoods. What are the odds that living together will be good or bad? I don’t know about you, but I’m not a gambler. I don’t like betting against the odds. Life turns out much better when you know what’s most likely to happen.
Here’s what we can gather about likelihoods:
It seems reasonable (or likely) that living together should improve the odds of doing well later in marriage. Not only is there little research supporting this belief, but the evidence isn’t that strong.
As a matter of fact, living together before marriage has been most strongly associated with poorer marital outcomes. Experts call this the “premarital cohabitation effect.” Those who have lived together before marriage are more likely, not less, to struggle in marriage. And these marriages are more likely to end in divorce.
As living together before marriage became more accepted in society, people thought the association with divorce would decrease, making it less likely. This also has not been the case.
In fact, couples who lived together tend to report having very little struggle in the first year of their marriage. (It makes sense: They’ve already negotiated the initial shock of all the changes that come with moving in.) But in the years after, the cohabitation effect comes into much greater play, making divorce much more likely after their first year of marriage.
If you want to compare living together with what marriage may look like, you could be setting yourself up for unrealistic expectations. There are fundamental differences in trust levels and relationship satisfaction between married and cohabiting couples. Couples who live together are much less likely to trust in their partner’s faithfulness, truthfulness, and responsibility than married couples.
I realize this might paint a bleak picture of living together. I don’t mean for it to; this isn’t my opinion nor anyone else’s. It’s simply the likelihood that research shows us.
Here’s another thought: There’s a theory out there that says moving in together makes it much harder to break up if the relationship goes south. The evidence tends to back this up. When you share bills, furniture, living space, a pet, and a bed, splitting up isn’t so cut-and-dry. (This is ironic because almost a quarter of people living together report they are testing the relationship.) Even if you feel you’re beyond the testing phase of your relationship, research shows the commitment level of couples living together is typically different than married couples. All this needs to be weighed very carefully before making a major decision.
Some final questions to consider: If you decide not to move in together, what’s the worst that could happen? Would it deter either of you from considering marriage later on? If it would, what does it say about your relationship?
And if you decide to move in together, what’s the worst that could happen? Would it deter you from breaking up if you needed to? If so, what would that say about your relationship?
At the end of the day, you have to come to your own conclusions. Again, I encourage you to step back and consider what’s at stake. Do plenty of homework and move forward from there. Be careful to discern between facts and mere opinions or personal perspectives. The health of your relationship and future marriage just may well depend on it.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/BlogPicCoupleMoving-01.png8542048Chris Ownbyhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngChris Ownby2021-06-04 10:26:562021-06-09 10:24:00Is Living Together Bad for Your Relationship?
Find out if living together will help you accomplish what you want.
Living together is pretty common these days. For many, living together is a natural progression in the evolution of their relationship, which may or may not lead to marriage. But it has its own set of complications, and there are things every couple should know before they move in together. I’m not trying to convince or dissuade you. Instead, I want to give you food for thought so you can make healthy decisions for your life.
This blog is for you if:
1. You are not seriously dating.
2. You’re seriously dating and thinking about moving in together.
3. You live together but recognize there are more things you need to discuss.
No matter your relationship status, talking about significant issues can create the healthiest connections.
Here are some questions to ask:
What’s my long-term plan? Our long-term plan?
What’s my level of commitment? My partner’s commitment level?
Here are FIVE essential topics every couple should know about and consider before they move in together.
1. Your reason: Why should we live together?
Be honest with yourselves and each other. Is it about:
Moving out of your parents’ house or away from that annoying roommate?
The next step toward marriage?
Continuing blindly down this path can lead to disappointment. Additionally, you should know your partner’s reason for living together. A Pew Research study offers many couples’ reasons, which include:
Natural next step
Learn more about each other
Want to test the relationship
Share your reasons. It’s natural to be hesitant about having this conversation, but there’s no such thing as a risk-free relationship. Talking about it allows you both to be vulnerable and transparent.
2. Your expectations: What will you (or won’t you) share?
Now that you’ve shared your reasons, communicate your expectations with your partner. Assuming things can damage your relationship, especially if you think you agree, but you don’t. Your expectations should be realistic. If you have different expectations, you each may have to compromise. Now’s the time to get down to the nitty-gritty.
Discuss things like:
Who’s cooking and/or cleaning?
Who will shop and/or do the laundry?
Who does the yard?
Are we having meals together every night?
What are your long-term expectations (house, marriage, kids)?
Talking about this isn’t sexy, but it’ll help your relationship in the long run.
3. Your finances: What’ll it cost you?
Many couples think living together is cheaper than living apart. This may or may not be true, but they often don’t communicate about finances.
Who will move in where?
How much will we pay for rent?
Will we get a new place? Will we both be on the lease?
Who pays for what (groceries, car payment, car insurance, rent, cable, electricity, water, internet, phone, etc.)?
What’s our personal debt (credit card, student loan, etc.)?
4. Your habits: How will they impact your relationship?
When living together, you become well acquainted with the habits and behaviors of your partner in a whole new way. Knowing that they exercise at 4:00 AM is one thing. Experiencing them exercising at 4:00 AM is something totally different.
Are they a night owl or an early bird? Neat or messy?
Are they an exercise, sports, home improvement, or cooking fanatic?
How do they handle stress? Express emotions?
What’s their work life like? Working remotely, hybrid, or in the office?
Do they bring work home every night?
5. Your other relationships: How will you interact with your village?
While focusing on each other and excluding friends and family may be tempting, living together won’t mean you’re on an island. You each have friends and family in your lives that matter; they support and challenge you to be better versions of yourselves. Nurturing those relationships can benefit your growth as an individual and as a couple.
Living together is not something to do without some considerations.
Remember to think about:
What do I want out of this relationship?
What’s the end goal?
Do I want to get married?
Do I want to have children who are healthy and stable?
However you answer these questions, you’ll want to find out if living together will help you accomplish what you desire or if it will hinder you. It’s up to you to decide.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Anotha-One-01.png8542048Gena Ellishttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngGena Ellis2021-06-03 16:14:402021-08-25 11:40:325 Things Every Couple Should Know Before They Move In Together