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Negotiating Personal Pursuits

0101664001597697903.jpgDear Fearless Love,

My wife and I have been married for 11 years and have two children. We both work and have busy schedules. I would like to train for a triathlon but am not sure how to negotiate workout time that is fair to both of us. My wife likes taking yoga classes and likes to write. It seems that our individual pursuits go on the back burner when kids’ duty calls. How do couples decide who gets priority?


Dear Tom,

In marriage, we forgo certain freedoms in turn for living and sharing our life with our best friend and raising a family. However, relinquishing your personal interests and goals should not be one of them. It’s important that we express our expectations, desires, goals, and dreams and find a way to support one another.

How to prioritize personal pursuits in marriage:

1. As individuals, list your personal desires, goals and dreams.

2. Come together as a couple to share the lists.

3. Notice things in common and what might be complementary.

4. Agree to support each other.

5. Spend 1 hour a week as a couple doing fun or relaxing things you both share an interest in.

6. Spend 1 hour a week as a family for fun activities with the children.

7. Decide how many hours a week each of you needs for your personal pursuits – working out, playing in a band, writing a book, attaining a higher education, training for a triathlon; etc.

Many individuals are happy to take on more responsibilities to support their spouse in pursuing a life goal or dream. Marriage affords us the gift of sacrificial love, which if not abused, can lead to great joy and source of pride. Others are able to strike a balance. You take care of the kids five mornings a week while I take on the cooking duties, etc.

As long as you stay flexible, you can support each other’s goals and dreams. This in turn grounds and deepens your love. Although marriage requires some work, it’s not all work and no play. Self-awareness and collaboration in pursuing your goals and dreams is integral to healthy and happy relationships.

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