Setting Goals as a Couple: The Key to A Healthy Relationship
I know, it doesn’t seem very romantic does it, setting goals as a couple.
After all, you have found your soulmate. Shouldn’t you just be able to live happily after in peace and harmony?
Ideally, yes. In the real world, though, things aren’t so simple. And, as a result, goal setting is key to having the healthy relationship that you want
Why is setting goals as a couple important?
When I talk about setting goals, I often refer to the workplace. Do you and your team mates set goals about what you are going to get done. Do you set benchmarks so that you know that you are making progress? Does this methodology work to keep your team successful?
I bet it does. So why wouldn’t you do the same in a relationship?
In a relationship, you are two members of a team who want a happy life together but the path there isn’t always a straight one. There are so many complicated pieces of life that can get in the way of our happiness, obstacles that can block our way forward.
That is when it’s important to set goals. To clear that path so that you can navigate the marriage with the goal of happiness always in sight!
So, when setting goals in a couple, what kind of goals should you be thinking about?
Here are some to consider:
#1 – To keep communication open.
Communication is the key to any healthy relationship and, without it, a relationship is doomed to failure.
Without communication, without honesty, a couple can become disconnected.
They can grow apart and small resentments can build. Once these cracks form in the foundation of a relationship, it can be hard to stop them getting worse.
Setting the goal that you will always communicate with each other, about things big and small, will help keep your relationship healthy and strong.
#2 – To never take each other for granted.
In this crazy world, it’s very easy to lose sight of what is most important in life, namely our partners.
Between work and kids and extended family and all of the other demands that we encounter every day, we can take our partner for granted, assuming they will always be there when we need them.
Doing this will end even the best relationship.
Set the goal that you will never take each other for granted. That, no matter what is going on, you will let your partner know that you see them, that you love them and that you appreciate that they are in your life. Doing this will only make your relationship stronger.
#3 – To remember that we are all only human.
Many of us go into relationships with unreasonable expectations of another person – namely that that person will be ‘perfect,’ that they will be able to give us everything that we want and need in life and to never hurt us.
Unfortunately, this kind of person only exists in fairy tales.
When setting goals as a couple, have one of them be a commitment to recognize that we are all only human and that we will make mistakes. And commit to being open to forgiveness, to not hold a grudge against your person for their humanness.
Remember, you are only human too, doing the best that you can to navigate this crazy world of love!
#4 – To be able to advocate for what we need.
How many times have you not spoken up for what you wanted? How many times have you just gone along, not wanting to make a fuss? And how has that worked out for you?
It is key that, in every relationship, we are willing and able to advocate for what we want and need. And that we are willing and able to listen to our person when they do.
When setting goals as a couple, commit to the understanding that you both have individual needs and that respecting those needs is very important.
Even if those needs can’t be met sometimes, being allowed to verbalize them safely is the key to keeping a relationship healthy and strong.
#5 – To keep going when the going gets tough.
In this day and age, it’s easy to cut and run when the going gets tough.
Instead of staying and working through issues, many couples walk away from a relationship, figuring that walking away will be easier than trying to fix something.
In this disposable world that we live in, it’s important to set a goal that neither one of you will walk away when the going gets tough. That you will commit to working through things, big and small, and keep your relationship on track.
#6 – To not take things personally.
A client of mine needed to have her husband to do something for her on the way home from work. He said he would and then he forgot. He didn’t do it maliciously – he just had other things on his mind and dropped the ball.
And what did she do? She took it totally personally and decided that his inaction was a reflection of how much he loved her.
But the truth was, he did love her. He just forgot.
It’s important that, when setting goals in your relationship, you include the understanding that, when your person does something to let you down, you won’t take it personally.
Again, your person is just a person in the world doing the best that they can. And that, even if they make mistakes, it has nothing to do with how much they love you.
#8 – To work to put issues to bed.
I know that, when I was married, issues would arise regularly. How could they not, with the crazy world we lived in?
My husband and I tried hard to address those issues when they arose but, more often than not, life got in the way and those issues got brushed under the rug, saved for another day.
Over the years, the fact that we avoided those issues became an issue. Those thousand little cuts that we did to each other over the years started to fester.
And, ultimately, those unsolved issues destroyed us.
When setting goals as a couple, resolve to work hard to settle issues as they arise and not wait for them to cause rot in your relationship that can’t be stopped.
#9 – To be honest about intimacy.
Talking about sex and intimacy in relationships can be very difficult. Both of those things are sensitive topics, fraught with opportunities to cause pain and confusion.
It is essential that, to keep a relationship healthy, each member of a couple agree to be honest about their wants and needs in their relationship and be willing to work together to meet those wants and needs.
Almost every single client I talk to who has had an affair counts not having any intimacy as one of the reasons. And it’s not the fact that they aren’t having sex, its that they aren’t even talking about it.
So, no matter how hard it might be, committing to keep discussions around intimacy open in your relationship will only make it stronger!
#10 – To tackle the problem, not each other.
I remember when I was married, the holidays were always an issue. His family wanted to spend time with us and I wanted to do them on our own.
My husband was caught between his mother and me and our wants and needs and it wasn’t easy for him.
Unfortunately, instead of us working together to figure out what to do about holidays, we tended to just fight about them. We went round and round about how insensitive one of us were being, or stubborn or thoughtless. It got us absolutely no where and ultimately destroyed our relationship.
So, resolve to work together to solve your problems, not just fight about them!
#11 – To make up after an argument.
Never, ever, ever go to bed angry. Never walk away from someone during an argument. Never say something in anger that you can never take back.
I am sure that this is advice that you have heard from more than one person.
Well, listen to it!
Making up after an argument is an important component of a healthy relationship. Even if the issue hasn’t been resolved, try to reconnect on a human level, with the person who you know and love.
Being able to do so will only bring you closer and perhaps even give you a clearer head to solve the problem next time it arises.
#12 – To give each other freedom.
When you and your partner are talking about relationships goals, one of the most important ones on your list should be this one – giving each other freedom to do what you want to do, to be who you want to be.
Being part of a couple is wonderful but it is essential that we maintain our individuality inside that relationship.
If we don’t, if we lose sight of who we are outside of the couple. If we rely on our coupleness to define who we are, this will make us dependent on the relationship and that won’t be healthy.
Make sure that, when you talk about your life together, set a goal to give each other the freedom that is needed to be yourselves in the world.
#13- To make time for fun.
Last but not least, when setting relationship goals, resolve that you will always make time for fun.
Life is hard and it’s easy to lose sight of the joy that can be found in it, especially in something as complicated as a committed relationship.
Make sure that you take the time to have fun together. To do the things that you did together when you were falling in love. To trying new things together.
To laughing and living and having fun. Together.
Setting goals as a couple can seem intimidating but it doesn’t have to be.
I would encourage you to take this list and discuss it with your partner. Work together to understand each other perspectives and define what is important to you and set about doing it.
You will be glad you did!