Managing Different Life Goals within a Relationship

What do you do if the root of every argument with your partner leads to one issue, you both fundamentally want different things? Having different life goals can lead to disagreements and may even leave you wondering if the relationship will work at all. There are three key aspects to a relationship; each partner’s satisfaction within themselves and then the satisfaction with the two partners together.  If a partner is unsatisfied with life individually, it will ultimately impact the relationship and even their partner. Let’s talk about how to manage when partners have different life goals that can get complicated to manage within a relationship.


For new relationships, talking about life goals and priorities is important. It is important to do this early in the relationship, as it is ultimately easier to walk away from a relationship early. Talking about career goals, family values, and financial priorities early in a relationship can help you guide whether or not your goals and values are aligned. If he wants a large family but she doesn’t want to have kids, or if she has a career that moves often and he wants to put down roots, then a tough conversation needs to be had about how these differences will work in the context of a relationship. It is common to want to ‘impress’ your partner in the early phases, but think about being true to yourself. If you are not true to yourself, then you will ultimately not be happy in that relationship.

Change is Allowed

If you are in a long term, committed relationship, know that your goals and priorities will be dramatically different at 50 then when you were 20. Give yourself and your partner permission to change and grow. Treat your partner with kindness and encouragement if they change their goals.. even if it may cause conflict. Remember that they will support you if you want to make changes as well. When your priority is not only your relationship but the well being of yourself and your partner, this will become easier to accept.

Both/And not Either/or

Sometimes we approach big decisions in a manner whereby one party needs to give up their goals.  The reality is that sometimes sacrifices from one partner may need to be made to help the other reach their goals. It can be helpful to talk through this option and make plans for the partner making sacrifices to be able to make a move towards their goal in the future.  It is easier to put your goal on the back burner for a season when you know that your partner is going to do the same for you in the foreseeable future.

Get invested in each other’s dreams

Share your goals and dreams with your partner and get invested. A solid and meaningful relationship finds joys when one partner reaches their goals. You will find joy in their joy, knowing soon that it will be your turn and your partner will find joy in your success.

If you would like to speak to a professional about a difference in life goals in your relationship, book in a time to speak to a psychologist. You can contact us on (02) 6262 6157 or book an appointment online.

Related reading:

Tips for a Successful Long Distance Relationship
Turning Towards: Facing Problems Together
Top Reasons for Divorce

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