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Is Your Relationship Threatened by a Deal Breaker?
Here’s my advice for how to handle the most difficult dilemmas
Every relationship faces hurdles. The couple that claims they never disagree are great big liars! But there are certain relationship "deal breakers" that can destroy even a seemingly strong relationship. These challenge the very core of your hopes or expectations. Here's how to handle the famous four deal breakers:
The Deal Breaker - Having a baby together is pretty much the most important thing you two will ever decide to do - or not. There's practically no dilemma more heart breaking then when one partner would love a child and the other partner doesn't. This can tear a couple apart with both feeling incredibly bitter. Neither can understand the others’ feelings and terrible rows are frequent.
The Deal Maker – It’s best early on to discuss your feelings towards children. But if you've left it - and you're in love - it's time for complete honesty. It's essential to keep calm over this emotive issue. Tantrums or tears never help.
Give each other the time to express why you do/don’t want children. Don't ridicule their reasons - try to understand them. The more understanding and patience you show the more likely you'll sway their point of view.
Often the partner who doesn't want children has an anxiety/anxities around being a parent, say, that children ruin relationships. By exploring they often can be solved.
You should both agree to spend time with friends' and relations' children. Of course it's not the same as having your own children but time spent around children may help bring you together over this.
Then revisit the discussion in six months. Don’t harp on about it; take this as a period for quiet reflection.
Ultimately if you can't agree, do some real soul-searching about whether you'd always be bitter about not having children - or giving in to having children. A word of wisdom - if you leave your partner to find someone who wants children you may never meet that person. But if having children means the world it may be worth the risk. Believe me, much smaller issues than babies have broken up millions of relationships!
The Deal Breaker - Yes, when it comes to relationships money is the root of practically all evil. On the face of it money may not seem so important but it’s cited as a reason for separation in one in three divorces. The crux of the problem usually lies in one partner being a big spender and the other partner a thrifty saver. Such couples face constant arguing as the monthly bills come in, purchasers have to be made and any extra money either has to be spent or saved for a rainy day.
The Deal Maker - Don't underestimate how emotionally-charged attitudes to money/spending can be. Because of this it's important to get very practical in your discussions. You'll be surprised how successful your discussions can be when you take “feelings” out of your finances.
List all incomings and outgoings. If you’re in the fortunate position where you have something left over each month, agree a compromise between saving and spending it. You may decide to do a 50-50 split or what I think is most helpful is a three-way split - 1/3 to be spent, 1/3 to be saved/invested, and 1/3 to go into a "planned expenditure" budget for big items.
If you have a shortfall look at how outgoings can be trimmed on both your parts. If the shortfall is due to one of you overspending, having seen it in black and white they should recognise the need to adapt better budgeting.
Finally if an irrational need to save or spend is destroying any compromise that partner needs to address underlying insecurities driving their behaviour.
No Place Like Home:
The Deal Breaker- There may be no place like home but whose home are you talking about? Problems usually occur for one of two reasons. Both partners have places and want the other person to move into their home. Or one is a determined city-dweller and the other a country type.
The Deal Maker - Sometimes practicalities solve this dilemma, e.g., your jobs are in the city and one of you wants to plan a future in the country. But when it's not straightforward couples should look to that magic word compromise. For instance is there a suburb you could move to that "feels" less urban that is still accessible to the city and would satisfy both of your needs? Can you find a way of spending weekends in one area while living the week in another?
Can you agree that point in time you will stay put with a view to moving in a set period of time like three years for adequate planning.
Meet The In-Laws:
The Deal Breaker- It's a real crisis when your parents don't approve of your partner without good reason. Obviously they’re going to be upset if you're with, say, an abusive partner. But if it's simply an issue of personal preferences then you are literally piggy in the middle.
The Deal Maker - Begin by addressing your parents’ anxieties. Whether they think you can "do better", or your partner doesn't try hard enough, or they don't like his/her politics you can rationally impress on them why their concern isn't important to your happiness.
At the same time let them know the positive things you share that may not be so obvious.
Try to find common ground that your parents and partner share like an interest or hobby. And get them all together to do it.
Be strong and don't wobble to their pressures so they see you’re committed.
Enlist your partner on a charm offensive in a tactful way. Don't tell them your parents "loathe” them, instead say your parents are very protective and simply need a little persuasion.
Published in The Express Newspaper
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