Wifeys and Gentlemen,
Every now and then, I will either overhear a conversation or be engaged in a conversation that goes something like this:
Person 1: So how are things with you and (enter lover’s name here)?
Person 2: Great! We decided to stay in last weekend and catch up on some TV and sleep. I ate my weight in nachos and he wouldn’t stop playing this stupid Facebook game (laughs).
Person 1: Ooh, so that’s becoming a thing now, huh? (Person’s name) is with you like every weekend! You practically live together!
Person 2: Yeah. It’s awesome but…
Person 1: What? What’s wrong?
Person 2: I dunno…nothing really…it’s just (person’s name) and I spend all this time together, we’ve been together for over a year, I feel like I should ask him if he wants to move in, but I don’t want him to think I’m crazy or moving too fast. I don’t want to scare him off.
While this is just one of many examples, it seems that when it comes to making milestones with our S/O, many of us do not know where to begin. Think about it; have you been dating someone for 2 or 3 months and you’re still not sure whether you are official? Have you been in a relationship with someone for years and you’re not sure if he/she is comfortable with the idea of marriage or a long term future? Have you been married for a few years and want to find a way to introduce the idea of having kids?
No matter what the milestone, it seems that (for many of us) we hit a stopping point where our desires are forced to take a back seat to our fears. We are letting the fear of uncertainty or the fear that our relationships will end ruin important and fulfilling life goals that could take us to the next level.
Now before all my wifeys get super eager-beaver on me and think that I am about to provide a magical formula for how to get your ‘bae’ (isn’t that the worst word ever?!) to give you a greater, deeper commitment than the one you find yourself in now…cool your jets!
Ordinarily, I’d spend a few paragraphs talking about how there is no magical formula for relationship progress and all you need is good old fashioned time. But you know what? In a lot of ways, there is a formula. It isn’t magical and it isn’t even all that glamourous, but it is something I know I have mentioned at least 100 times while writing this blog and (finally) I am going to take this opportunity to talk about it in depth.
The answer, wifeys, is (of course) COMMUNICATION.
Hahaha…I’m kidding, of course you already knew that and it isn’t terribly shocking to any of you (I’m sure). Simply put, since the beginning of time (well…maybe not the very beginning but a damn long while, I’d bet) if you want to achieve success with your partner, if you want to take your relationship to that ‘next level’, or if you want to give your mate a clear picture of what you are feeling/thinking, you MUST communicate.
So, true to my personal format and style (and my unrelenting and tedious love of lists), I think it is important to go over a few key communication skills and elements that can set all of my wifeys (& gents) up for success.
- Know what it is you want, and be very specific
As with most things in life, when we know what it is that we want and are ready to go get them, having that readiness and sense of purpose is ½ the battle won! If you want to start making a plan to find an apartment with your partner, THIS is what needs to be said in no uncertain terms. Dancing around the issues or dangling the ‘what if’ scenario over someone’s head might give them the impression that you aren’t serious about or committed to the idea you’re discussing.
Imagine if your partner came to you and said something like “hey so I was thinking that I might love you and wondered if you see yourself staying with me over the next few years. If not, it’s fine. No biggie. I mean, it’s stupid right? Sorry I asked. Nevermind.”
When we are able to understand exactly what it is we are looking for, it makes it that much easier to communicate it to the people who need to hear it and understand it clearly. Don’t waiver or give someone the impression that it’s NBD (No big deal) or that it can wait. If it can’t, if it’s important, say something. Remember the worst that can happen is that your partner isn’t ready or doesn’t want the same things & it’s better to know those types of things as soon as possible to make informed decisions about your future.
- Pick the RIGHT time.
People, people, people, please do not be crazy! Don’t call your lady while she is at work and ask her to move in with you! Don’t try to strike up a “where is this relationship going” convo with your man when the Warrior game is on! This is just asking for disaster and is the fastest way to get your partner to question your judgement (and sanity). Okay?
While there is never a perfect time to discuss a new or challenging issue/desire, some moments are definitely better than others. Take care when trying to feel out timing and try to make sure you and your partner have a moment where you will be relaxed and generally uninterrupted, avoiding huge distractions.
Also, please do not try to trick your partner into a conversation by luring them in with false promises. “Come home early tonight babe, I’ve got a romantic night planned” might not go over too well if your plan was to sit down and talk about where she sees herself in five years. Try to make things as comfortable and positive as possible. Maybe you guys have time to talk over dinner or just before you go to bed? Maybe you guys have a long drive planned? Gauge how to start the conversation in the best possible way or consider directly asking your partner when they have some dedicated time to have an important chat.
- Speak for yourself and stick to the topic at hand
This goes back to some of my points made earlier about knowing your purpose and subject very very well. When having an important conversation, it is vital to remember that you are speaking about your own ideas and understand that your partner might not share in your feelings or concerns. Rather than jumping into assumptions or pointing out things you THINK your partner is thinking/feeling/wanting/scared of, stick to what is important and relevant for you and you alone. Understand your own things so that you can share them articulately. Be direct about what you want and try not to go off into a bunch of different topics. Let your partner digest and communicate his/her thoughts about one thing before bombarding them with another.
- Remember, this is a CONVERSATION not a LECTURE
Feeling empowered and capable of communicating your feelings is great, but please remember that you are speaking to a human who has thoughts and ideas of his/her own. Stop, listen, and consider everything they have to say in response to you and the issue at hand (even if you do not like what you hear). Remember that your partner might be taken aback or a little freaked out at the idea of moving forward in your relationship. That’s perfectly fine and normal. Moreover, it might even awaken you to some important facts and facets about your partner that you didn’t know existed.
I remember being so scared to ask my boyfriend about moving in together. I agonized over how I would bring it up for weeks and weeks, wondering if he would freak out or think I was moving too fast. In reality, it was me who was freaking out. I chickened out so many times that when he brought up the topic in casual conversation one afternoon, I almost died of shock (happy shock, of course). I remembered thinking to myself that I should have more faith in the person I am with and always be willing to learn. Maybe, if given time to think and speak, your partner will realize that they want the same things that you do. Maybe, when allowed to communicate, you will find that they care deeply about you but aren’t ready for a bigger step just yet. Either scenario is viable, reasonable, and okay. But you must listen.
Opening up the conversation allows you to share your thoughts, but it also opens up the idea of compromise. Your partner might not be able to give you everything you want right then, but listen. They’ll tell you what they are thinking and, if they care about you and they want to keep your relationship moving along the right path, they’ll help you come up with a way to find a resolution. If you’re wife isn’t quite ready to be a mom yet, but she knows she wants to someday, discuss a feasible timeline where you both can seriously revisit the topic again. Make sure you are expressing your needs and do not agree to anything that makes you uncomfortable (yep, I’ve definitely said this before), but also make sure to keep those ears wide open! This is your love and future talking and you don’t want to miss anything.
- Finish with a plan
After the conversation is over, make sure you both are on the same page and know what steps you’d like to take to move forward. Maybe it’s time to get off the birth control pills and schedule a conception conversation with your OBGYN? Great! Make sure you both know when these things are happening. Or perhaps you two have decided to be exclusive and have decided to break things off with any other people you have been seeing? Both of you should know exactly when this (awkward) task has been completed, ready to establish a new level of trust and commitment to each other in an “official” relationship.
No, you don’t have to write it down or set a date/time for things to be done, (unless you want to) but it’s nice knowing what’s ahead and how you both plan to get there. Right?
*Note: if you are thinking of proposing marriage, PLEASE do not follow these outlined tips (unless that’s just who you are and your partner is cool with it). Marriage proposals are one of the only exceptions to the communication rule and traditionally, no matter what gender or sexual orientation you are, most of us want that moment to be a romantic, fun, and an amazing surprise;not a sit down conversation! Just sayin…
Milestones are special for each of us, even outside of relationships. No matter who you are speaking with, everyone is looking forward to the next stage of life. Whether it’s a graduation, a new job, buying your first home, or celebrating retirement, it is these moments that define and shape the trajectory of our lives and the value of our memories. This is why, when it comes to love, there should be even more special care taken; it takes two. & it all starts with having the courage and strength to clearly and effectively communicate.
At the risk of ending on a negative note, please be aware that there will be times where one of you might want a milestone that the other isn’t interested in. Moreover, there might even be times when no compromise can be made. Your moment might be the moment when you realize that your girlfriend never wants to get married. Your moment might be the moment when you learn that your man isn’t ready to stop seeing other people. Even those hard things are, in the end, okay. You survive, knowing that it is simply making room for the wonderful milestones you will achieve with someone else.
Don’t believe me? Just watch! 😉
Until Next Week,
Carry on Wifeys!