While walking on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. last week, I noticed a couple engaged in a lengthy embrace and passionate kiss. I smiled as I thought about how in love they seemed. Then, I realized that the woman was crying and the man was hesitantly walking away from her, not looking back. What I had seen as an expression of connection was actually that of separation. This couple was breaking up.
As I continued on my walk, I contemplated the differences between couples who stay together and those who break up. In my work with couples over the past decade, I have observed that couples who communicate effectively with each other seem to have a greater chance of resolving difficulties and staying together. Couples often tell me that they recognize that they need to improve their communication, but that they don’t know what they should be talking about or how to go about it. They come to me looking for guidance on this.
As a result, I have decided to write a three-part series for couples who would like to improve their communication. This is the first article in the series, which addresses communication in young couples who are going through the quarterlife phase of life (couples in their 20’s and 30’s). The second article addresses couples who are approaching retirement, and the third article looks at couples coping with Alzheimer’s disease.
Often couples in their 20’s and 30’s are busy planning their future and making choices about marriage, children, careers, graduate school, home ownership, and financial security. The following are five topics that quarterlife couples should be talking about:
1) What are your feelings, thoughts, and beliefs about marriage, monogamy, and childrearing? If you want to have children, how many would you like to have? Would you like to adopt children? What needs to happen in order for you to feel ready to take these steps?
2) What are your feelings, thoughts, and values related to career and finances? How much income do you want to have as an individual and as a couple? What are your beliefs about saving, spending, philanthropy, and investments?
3) What are your religious and spiritual beliefs? Would you like your partner to share your beliefs? What are your expectations for involvement with a community of worship (i.e. church, mosque, synagogue, etc.)?
4) How much involvement with in-laws, extended family, and friends would you like to have? What are your expectations? How frequently would you like to talk to, visit, or receive visits from your friends and families?
5) Where would you like to live? Do you see yourself settling down in one place or moving around? Are there certain places you would not want to live? Do you prefer a rural, urban or suburban setting?
These questions address many of the important topics that are covered in premarital counseling and the most common issues that married couples struggle with. Communicating about these topics earlier on in a relationship can help couples prevent future conflicts and can pave the way for a satisfying marriage.break ups, breaking up, career advice, career help, children, communication skills, counseling, couples communication, couples counseling, couples counselor in dc, d.c. couples counseling, dc couples counseling, dc couples counselor, financial help for couples, Greenville couples counselor, Greenville South Carolina, marriage, marriage counseling, marriage counselor in dc, planning your future, quarter life, quarter-life crisis, quarterlife, quarterlife crisis, spirituality in couples, tips for couples, washington, washington d.c. couples counselor, Washington DC, young couples