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Needs and Wants
Written by Andrew Rusbatch
When you think about it, we are all quite competitive. From an early age, we are conditioned by society to achieve and compete with other people, and this need to have what others have or better it continues right into our adult lives.
I am one of a number of couples in my group of friends that have recently shifted houses, and during this time of packing all your worldly possessions into boxes, labeling them, storing them, shifting them, and unpacking them again, it really makes you realize how few things you really need in order to function.
Do you need the latest kitchen appliances? Do you really need that particular brand of glassware? Do you need all those accessories that continue a theme or color throughout a room or a home?
The thing is, we all want what our friends have. We want what our parents have. And sometimes, if we can manage it, we want it to be a little better than what everyone else has.
The problem with this is that we don't consider just what it has taken for other couples to have what they have. They may have worked very hard to have that big house, the nice car, the expensive television or furniture, yet we feel that we deserve it and should have it now.
Are you happy in your relationship, or are you always looking over your shoulder to see what everyone else has? Does your quest for material wealth or keeping up with the Jones's come at a cost to your marriage?
When looking at what other people have, it's important to remember that your perception of things is just that: a perception. Everything we do in life is a result of the choices we make, and how we choose to prioritize our use of resources.
For some, satisfaction may come from an overseas holiday during the bleak months of winter. For others, satisfaction may come from having a new car to drive. For others still, satisfaction may come from having shorter work hours so that quality time can be spent with partners, children, and loved ones.
What works for one couple may not always work for another.
I hear from a number of couples that are so focused on getting ahead in life, building a new house, setting up investments, and working their way up the corporate ladder and pay scale, they forget why they are doing it. In their quest to get ahead in life, they leave one crucial thing behind... the relationship.
By the time you pull your head up from your ambitions, your relationship may no longer be there.
I want you to take a look at your individual and relationship goals. Are they coming at a cost to the relationship? Are your individual goals at odds with the relationship goals?
Make a list, one column being the things you need to survive as a couple, and the other column being the things you want to make your life more comfortable. Don't just list material possessions, also list things like more time spent together, sleep, things like that.
What things in your wants list are preventing you from having other wants or needs?
Looking at the relationships your friends have and how they seem to be living the dream, how are their relationships really doing? Is their relationship everything it seems behind closed doors?
For everything you do or have in life there is an opportunity cost. The couples you see with the big house and the big car? How big are their debts? What sort of hours do they have to work to service that type of lifestyle? Do the assets they have really make them happy?
A quick scratch beneath the surface often shows that couples with affluent lifestyles are just as susceptible to relationship dissatisfaction as those that aren't.
Looking at your parents, it's important to note that they have worked together for a number of years to accumulate what they have, yet we often have the mentality that we should have it all, and have it now. Is that perception realistic? Is it reasonable? Is it fair?
If you have your dream home at age 35 or 40, it doesn't guarantee you the perfect relationship. Always looking at what others have breeds an atmosphere of discontent, and one that can poison relationships and create unrealistic expectations.
Evaluate what you want. Evaluate what you need. What do you need right now, at this point in your relationship. Is the cost of having it worth it to your relationship?
Our lives can be as simple or as complicated as we choose to make them. It may be time to simplify your marriage and be richer in happiness and the strength of your connection. Less time keeping up and more time keeping together.
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