It’s completely normal to want different things to your partner when it comes to what movie to put on or what you fancy for dinner.
But when you want different things out of your relationship, things can get a bit more fraught. Does it spell the end when one partner celebrates every milestone or special day and the other just wants to crack on with the everyday?
In this article, we walk you through four ways to manage those differences and make sure milestones aren’t a source of stress for you and your partner.
How to manage different expectations
When your expectations differ about big events like anniversaries and Valentine’s Day, you and your partner can both end up feeling sad, frustrated and even left wondering how the relationship will last.
The fact is that only half of married couples celebrate their wedding anniversary according to Travelodge, while 60% of adults don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day according to a survey by Glowing Embers. Partners in these relationships who would like to express their affection by celebrating these occasions can end up frustrated and unheard.
There are plenty of reasons why people don’t want to celebrate events like anniversaries and Valentine’s Day. They might feel like they don’t have the time between work and family commitments, or they might feel like they’ll struggle to afford a gift. Or maybe they don’t agree with the commercialisation of relationship milestones, or feel that there’s too much pressure to find the perfect gift.
Whatever the reason, the lack of participation could be misinterpreted as unloving or lacking commitment if it’s not communicated properly. Both partners may end up feeling lonely in their own relationship.
To avoid this situation, ensure that you’re both honest and open about your feelings – being silently upset won’t help. Once you understand how you both feel, ask yourself whether there’s a realistic compromise to be made to find a healthy balance. This Reader’s Digest article offers a range of subtle yet caring activities to try.
Don’t play the comparison game
It’s very easy these days to compare all aspects of our lives with other people’s – especially on social media.
However, almost half of those that receive Valentine’s gifts don’t actually like them, according to research by Finder. So while you may have seen an extravagant gift on someone’s Instagram, consider that all that glitters isn’t gold, and a big expensive gift isn’t necessarily all it might seem.
Remember that we only see the parts of people’s lives they want us to see on social media. More often than not that’s not the full picture, so be sure to avoid comparing your behind-the-scenes to their highlight reel when it comes to milestone events.
Avoid unnecessary pressure
There’s a common tendency to consider gifts as if they define the way you feel for your loved one, which only increases the pressure to get it “right”.
When you and your partner feel like you have to get the perfect gift, it can turn a celebration of your love into a source of anxiety and stress.
To prevent yourselves from falling into this trap, it might be useful to turn your focus towards showing your partner how much they mean to you in little, everyday ways. By taking the burden off big, romantic gestures for milestones, you’ll take the pressure off these occasions and might be able to enjoy them more easily.
Beware that gestures can make a rough patch worse
Birthdays, Valentine’s Day, and annivaries can be a great opportunity to express your love through a grand gesture like a proposal, a surprise getaway, or a generous gift.
However, if your relationship has underlying issues, a grand gesture can sometimes make things worse – especially if your partner feels like you’re trying to paper over the cracks by lavishing them with gifts or popping the question.
So, if your relationship is going through a rough patch, your time and attention might be better invested in resolving those issues rather than trying to fix things through a grand gesture.
Keep these four tips in mind if you and your partner express your love differently around major milestones to help ensure they aren’t a point of contention throughout your relationship.
If you find yourselves unable to resolve your differences, you might benefit from relationship counselling. Here at NECS, we can help mediate and guide you and your partner to a positive resolution – even if it ultimately means separating – through our couples counselling. Get in touch with us today to arrange your initial consultation.