This past week, my boyfriend and I were laying on the couch, watching TV, when he casually tossed this comment into the air: “I’m probably going to drive out to the desert for a while.” HUH?! Which desert? For how long? Where are you staying? Why are you doing this? What are you talking about?! When were you planning on telling me this? These were all thoughts that crossed my mind, and my mouth. Look, we aren’t married with kids, but we are living together with a dog and have been together for over half a decade. So I didn’t love that it seemed as if he’d just made this decision, and it was happening, when and how he wanted it to happen, regardless of what I had to say about it. I wouldn’t do something like that to him. Let me tell you, this sparked a bit of a debate on what you need to consult your long-term partner about. Some areas are iffy. So, should you consult your partner on these things?
Let’s start with that first situation I brought up in the intro—the spontaneous trip. Simply asking your partner, “I’m thinking of going on this trip this weekend—what do you think?” goes a long way. If that’s how my partner would have brought up his desert adventure to me, so long as there wasn’t something I needed help with that weekend or some other plan he’d forgotten, I would have appreciated he asked and said, “That sounds great! Good for you!” But, instead, he just said, “I’m doing this.”
I actually chopped about 16 inches off of my hair recently, going from someone with undeniably long locks to someone with a bob. I surprised my partner, too. And, honestly, that was my prerogative. He says he loves my hair—maybe he does, maybe he doesn’t. But he’s gotten haircuts I wasn’t nuts about and I love him so much and find him so adorable that it doesn’t matter. And that’s how it should be.
It’s your body and your choice but, here’s one thing I will say: if you do, completely out of the blue, get an unplanned tattoo, then you’re probably going through something. Sorry, but you know it’s true—spontaneous tattoos usually accompany some phase of life when you feel antsy, crave changes, and want adventure. That, more than the tattoo, will affect your relationship.
Taking a job
Your career is your career, but, it’s only natural that your partner should want you to want their input, wisdom, advice, and opinion on major decisions. If you respect someone, think they’re wise, and believe they want the best for you, you should care what they think about major changes in your life. So, when you just make those changes without consulting them, it can hurt.
Quitting your job
The last point about respecting someone’s opinion comes into play here but, furthermore, if you’re in a serious relationship and live together, then your finances affect your partner’s finances. He may have wanted to point out that you two had discussed moving to a larger apartment in the next year, and by quitting your job, you killed both of your chances of that happening.
Changing career paths entirely
Your career isn’t who you are but, it certainly affects a lot of your behaviors, personality, schedule, and moods. So, yes—you should probably talk to your partner before you quit your job as an accountant to become a motivational speaker. The latter requires lots of travel, working late, financial feast and famine periods, and emotional ups and downs. Don’t you think your partner would want to know if that was coming?
Taking out a loan
Again, if you’re in a serious relationship, then your finances affect his finances. Furthermore, if you plan on getting married one day, then your debt becomes his debt. So he probably doesn’t want to just learn that you took out a major loan without even consulting him beforehand.
Bringing home a pet
Let’s be honest: you won’t be the only one taking care of that pet. There will be times when you’re tired or stuck in traffic and want your partner to walk the dog. You’ll ask him to pick up pet food on his way home from work. Money for vet bills will come out of your joint vacation budget. Pets are a big deal!
So long as that money is just your money, and by investing it, you don’t affect your ability as a couple to keep up a certain lifestyle and cover your expenses, then you don’t necessarily need to consult your partner.
If you aren’t yet married or living together, it’s very possible that you find a condo outside the city that’s within your budget, that you’d like to buy. Maybe you’ll live in it; maybe you’ll rent it out. If you don’t yet live together though, then you pretty much just forced your partner to eventually live there—if he wants to live with you. If you’re just renting the place out, well, either way, that property becomes his responsibility when and if you marry some day.
Taking in a relative or friend
Regardless of if you live together, your partner would probably appreciate a heads up if somebody is going to move into your guest room for an unspecified amount of time. Well, if you live together, you straight up need his permission to invite your cousin to move in. But even if you don’t live together, and he just finds your cousin living there, your partner will feel like you don’t include him on major changes.
If you’ve already decided to keep your religions separate, then this shouldn’t necessarily affect your relationship. But if you are currently in the same religion and it plays a large part in your life—your social life, the way you plan on raising children, and even the way you vote—then this change warrants a discussion. Probably months of discussion.
Social media posts about him
Though social media posts about your relationship are half about you, they’re also inherently about your partner. So you should likely consult him before posting any personal information about your relationship.
Changing birth control
Often, changing birth control warrants a discussion. If you want to go off the pill, for example, and have your partner begin using condoms, he probably deserves a little notice. If you’re going to switch to a device that could mean having kids is out of the question for a while, that probably warrants a discussion if you do want kids some day.
Inviting your parents to town
If you’re in a serious relationship and there is the expectation that your partner will spend a lot of time with your parents when they visit, then you should consult him on when they visit. You don’t want to set him up to fail, and invite them on a week when he is slammed with work.