True compatibility is the feeling
that you have a helpmate – someone who wants to help you reach your goals and
develop as a person.  And you must
respect and be willing to support your mate’s development and goals. With such a
strong base, staying together is relatively easy.
And I’ll let you in on a secret:
people without any dreams or aspirations usually aren’t as interesting as those
with a sense of purpose. If you’ve ever met someone who has given up wanting
anything for his future, you know they tend to lack enthusiasm and are not much
fun to be around. They lower the energy level in the room and are likely to be
relationship challenged as well.
Once in a committed relationship,
you often have to juggle time and energy for jobs, family members and friends.
Something that is important to your partner can and should change how you plan
your time–together and apart. Compromises must be made: but often, the big
picture of a couple’s life together can be lost before it’s even imagined.
Numerous studies have shown that
people who write things down are more likely to get things done. Make a list of
the things that are important to you as an individual and as a couple. Writing
it down is important even if you never look at it again. Only share your list
when you feel ready.  And your partner’s
list may surprise you!
Your goals, dreams, and
wishes: Write down all of them, even those you (or others)
believe might be unattainable.
Long-term goals: In all of the craziness of daily life, it’s easy to lose sight of
things that really matter. Keeping a list of what’s most important to you individually
and as a couple can help make those important things your priority.
  • Places
    you’d like to visit: List the places you’d like to
    visit together, and below each destination, what it would take to get you
    there—money, learning a language (doing this together would be a great way to
    bond), or finishing projects, etc.
  • Each
    other’s goals: Share your ideas for yourself and for each other. For
    example, he might see himself as a not-so-great cook, and you might see his passion
    and talent without the self-critical goggles he’s wearing. You might suggest a
    dinner party for eight using recipes he had been squirrelling away. Or he might
    have creative ideas about how you could increase revenue in your business and
    suggest that you check back with him when you have put
    the ideas into play to see if they succeeded. He might realize by the notes and
    emails you write that you are an excellent writer, and encourage you to get a
    story published, or you might help him realize how valuable he is at work and urge
    him to negotiate for something he wants.
  • Financial
    goals: Write about what you want out of life in the next
    five, ten, twenty years, and how you plan to get there.  What do you want retirement to look like? How
    much is it going to cost to make your goals happen?  Eventually you will need a financial advisor
    or accountant, but for now just make a basic list and take the first steps.

Setting and reaching even small
goals will make you feel better and get you further than you ever imagined. So
when all else fails put this on your calendar: get up, get out, and do something
– anything that will get you moving towards your goals.

A “keeper” has compatible life goals. But if he or she isn’t, at least
you’ve got the perfect exit line, “I believe we have different goals”. You
won’t be riding into the sunset together because you both did your homework and
MADE THAT LIST. Remember: it is easier to
reach the stars with someone to hold the ladder.

Janet Blair Page, PhD, author of Get Married This Year: 365 Days to “I Do”, {Adams Media). is a relationship expert with more than thirty years of experience in private practice in New York and Atlanta. She taught at Emory University for twenty-two years and has been featured in the New York Times, Glamour Magazine,, and U.S. News and World Report and on CNN, HLN, FOX, Good Morning America, and The Early Show. For more information please

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