One of the most predictable and important turning points that occur in a career is called a midlife transition. The midlife transition occurs when people take stock of their career and look to what the future holds - "Where will I be in 7 to 10 years? and What do I need to do to get there?"
As with turning points in a career, turning points also occur in relationships. Couples take stock of where their relationship is now and what will it be like in the future. Developing a vision together is critical step in a relationship. Without a shared vision, a couple will run the risk of growing apart.
One of the most difficult issues for couples face today is how to balance career, marriage and family.
In the United States a standard workweek for most people averages 60 hours per week. Whatever time and energy remains after a busy day goes to children, preparing a meal, helping with homework, tossing in a little time to play and listen to the childrens day. These are all important but leave little time to reconnect at the end of the day with a spouse. Many working parents say by the end of the day there is nothing left to give.
The midlife transition in a family is sometimes brought on by one or both parents vision of what life will be like when the children are grown and leave home. The most common thought is "I'm afraid that when the children grow up and leave home, there won't be any marriage left." A similar turning point often occurs as couples face retirement - a late-in-life transition, unsure of what they will have in common when having hours each day together. This may sound silly to younger people, but it is a common happening. This is why it is important to create a shared vision and talk about that vision as the years go by as life changes occur.
What is a shared vision? A shared vision is the creation of a mutual goal based on personal visions through communication. How do you create a shared vision? Talk, in-depth, about each other individually first, , finding out their own natural talents and abilities, interests, goals, values, personalty, family-of-origin influences and developmental stage, then unite those personal visions to create the shared vision.
Maintaining a sense of yourselves as a couple, while forces compete for your energy and time, is an exceedingly difficult job but successful when both want to make sure their marriage survives these forces. The strongest relationships requires commitment, persistence and a good sense of humor. Having a shared vision can be an important tool in creating a bond for the future. Put the shared vision to work by making plans and follow through, keeping the communication flowing.
So how does a married couple, with jobs, children and possibly parents that need care, maintain a sense of connectedness? Here are a few tips on making shared visions work and strengthen a relationship:
- At least one night a week, put the kids to bed, go somewhere private and talk about something other than work.
- Once a month have lunch together during a workday.
- Once a month go out together, for a Date Night
- Give each other a break by taking turns to do the shopping, cleaning, laundry, cooking, the kids bath time or bed time. Downtime is critical to a healthy mind and body.
- Laugh - Yes! Laugh and laugh often and together!
- Set aside time once each month to talk together about your progress.
Take it from someone who has gone through midlife transition. It is well worth your time and effort to talk, to plan, to have a shared vision, to move forward in a happy, healthy relationship as a family.