Psychology in practice

Personal growth and personal aspirations in a relationship: Do you have to choose?

If you are in a relationship do your personal goals and aspirations have to take second place to your marriage and to your family life?

In my psychology practice I often have clients ask me whether or not it is OK to pursue a personal interest or hobby if they are in a committed relationship. Often they are getting pressure from their partner, who is saying that family responsibilities should trump personal “projects”.

Pressure of this sort from a spouse will often cause their “other half” to feel conflicted, guilty and resentful. Their personal goals are often regarded by their partner as “selfish” and often this view is internalized by the individual concerned.

In my couple counselling I am strongly of the view that individuals in a relationship should honour each other’s aspirations and goals as a priority. They should make every effort to enable their spouse to reach for their dreams, even if it means having to make personal sacrifices such as volunteering to look after the children, allocating some funds for studies and missing out on time that would be spend together.

A committed relationship, including marriage, should ideally be a springboard where the couple and their children are able to fulfill  each of their personal potential from a secure base. I do realize that this is an ideal, but I believe that this is a worthwhile ideal to strive for!

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