Thursday, March 01, 2007

relationships, seriously

I had dinner yesterday night with a friend who recently broke up with his girlfriend of over six months. Of course, we chatted a lot about the reasons that they broke up, and talked a bit about relationships in general.

At one point, we discussed an article that I'd read recently about the major issues that can become deal breakers in long term relationships. According to the article, those issues are: religion, money, politics, sex, family, children, division of labor, work-life balance, health and fitness, and social attitude.

The first six are pretty self-explanatory and are often discussed, but I thought that the last four were less obvious and more interesting.

For example, division of labor was probably not an issue a hundred years ago; it was assumed that women would stay home and do housework and raise children, and men would work outside the home and produce income. Nowadays, it's much more complicated, and couples have to figure out who cooks, who cleans, who plans, and who runs shuttle duty.

Work-life balance and social attitude are two related issues which can get overlooked. Some people are workaholics, others find fulfillment in spending time with friends and family. Some people like to hole up in their own homes, others like to go out regularly and explore new people and places. Of course, there will always be some discrepancy, but if one person is completely absorbed to his/her work and the other is constantly nagging him/her to come home, things can get ugly. Similarly, if one party is always having to drag a resisting significant other out of the house, that conflict can cause serious problems, as well.

The health and fitness issue is one that I hadn't really thought about until recently. It doesn't tend to come up in younger relationships, but as people start to figure out what their adult lives look like, they develop patterns of food consumption and exercise, and it can be hard to adapt these routines to accomodate another person who may have different habits. Often one or both will have to compromise. I guess that's what relationships are all about.

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