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Your hopes and dreams

If a lack of communication with your partner is causing tension in your relationship, this exercise by relationship psychotherapist Paula Hall is designed to help you talk together about your dreams, values and priorities in life.

Before trying this exercise it's worth having a look at the Guidelines for exercises.

You and your partner may choose to do the exercise at the same time or on separate occasions and then share your discoveries later.

It's best to dedicate a whole evening to this task.

You'll need five sheets of paper and head them up as follows: Career, Home, Family, Possessions and Pastimes.

Your goals

Taking as much time as you need, write down on each page all the things you hope for under that heading Note down all the realistic goals you're currently aiming for and the things you'd like to aspire to in the future. Think as far ahead as you can into retirement and old age.

The following questions may help:

  • Career - work or not? What sort of job? Location, salary, hours? Self-employed? Employed? The same job all your life or will you change direction?
  • Home - where? How many homes? What style? Will you settle in one place or move regularly?
  • Family - children? If so, how many and how will you educate them? Will you live close to parents, brothers and sisters? How often will you see them? How much involvement will they have with your life?
  • Possessions - what are the essentials? What luxuries do you definitely want? What would be added bonuses?
  • Pastimes - social life and friends: how much time and how often? Hobbies and relaxation time: how much time will you spend as a couple, how much time apart? Will you share activities or have separate hobbies?
Ask why

Once you've completed these lists, take some time to think about why you'd like to achieve these things. What is the need in you that achieving this goal will satisfy? Is it security, popularity or your own satisfaction? Or maybe it's about maintaining certain core values in your life, such as caring for family or giving to society. Sharing this information with your partner will help you to feel closer and build intimacy.

Further help

If completing this exercise leaves you feeling uncomfortable or you have concerns about your relationship, try talking it through with your partner or a trusted friend. Alternatively, you might want to consider seeing a relationship counsellor.

If you do this exercise when you're feeling angry or upset with your partner you will get quite a different picture, so make sure you're in a reasonable frame of mind.