When we first meet and fall in love, we think we know pretty well everything we can about our love. We have too much in common. It all seems so easy, so intuitive, so natural. Of course, we want the same. Of course, we are two sides of the same coin. Of course, we are going to share life’s highway.

Wrong.

The highway will diverge at times, and if you aren’t on the ball, you will lose sight of each other completely and forever. You have to keep checking that you are both singing from the same map to speak, both heading for the same destination, both going in the same direction even.

So what are your shared goals? Where do you both think you’re going? No, don’t guess here. Please don’t make them assumed goals or even imagined goals. You have to know what your partner thinks are shared goals. You have to understand what your partner feels are the shared goals – and what you think. They might be a world apart. Or then again, they might be very close. You’ll only know if you ask, discreetly, of course, don’t want to frighten the horses here.

And you have to differentiate between shared goals and shared dreams. We all have dreams – the cottage by the sea, the trip around the world, the Ferrari, the second home in Malibu – but goals are different.

Goals are to have children (or not); to retire early and live in Spain; to bring up the children, to be well-adjusted people; to stay together (!); to move to the countryside/town; to downsize together and work from home; to run your own business together; to get a dog.

Dreams are things you aim to get one day, and goals are what you are doing together.

Dreams are acquisitions that either of you could want, and goals are shared aims that you need each other because, without the other, the goal is pretty meaningless.

The Rule is about reviewing. To review, you have to talk to your partner about where you both think you’re going and what you’re doing. It doesn’t have to be heavy. This can be a light review to connect and check that you are both on the same track. It doesn’t have to be too detailed, just simple questions to confirm a generally similar direction, rather than trying to map out an A-to-Z of your future life together.

Notes from the Rules of Life by Richard Templar.