Get expert help with setting goals in your relationship. Click here to chat online to someone right now.
A strong, healthy relationship is a thing of beauty. Although the right relationship should never be too much of a struggle, if you’re currently in or have ever been in a serious, committed relationship, you’ll know that it involves a lot of work.
The first rush of hormones and excitement may seem like it’s going to last forever, but there will come a point where the flame will start to die out if you don’t consciously put fuel on the fire.
On the one hand, it’s true that no two relationships will ever look quite the same. After all, every individual is different and has different wants and needs.
On the other, just because two people’s idea of perfection might be unintelligible to another couple, that doesn’t mean there aren’t certain generic goals that we can’t all aspire to; goals that keep relationships moving forward and evolving rather than stagnating.
I’m talking real goals; goals for a relationship that goes beyond the superficial. Things to aspire to as a couple that go far deeper than just taking the perfect photo to upload to Instagram with the caption #couplegoals.
Whilst there’s nothing wrong with sharing your love on social media now and again, the main focus of your relationship shouldn’t be good photo opportunities.
But what should the main focus be?
If you’re serious about nurturing your relationship beyond the initial honeymoon phase, here are a few goals that the two of you could consider setting yourselves to make sure it continues to flourish and grow for years to come.
9 Relationship Goals You Should Set
1. You Have Lives Outside Each Other
You know those couples who do absolutely everything together? Don’t be one of them!
It’s incredibly easy to get into a relationship and suddenly realize a few months (or years!) down the line that you have absolutely no life independent of your partner.
One of the keys to nourishing your romantic relationship is that you don’t let it push your relationships with your family, your friends, and even yourself to one side. If you do, you risk smothering the relationship.
Whilst it might seem strange that I’ve started this list by telling you to think about your other relationships and yourself rather than your partner, it’s important that you don’t become solely dependent on one person (or codependent on each other if you both let other relationships fall by the wayside).
No one person should be responsible for your entire happiness; it’s too heavy a burden to carry. That’s your job.
If you put too much pressure on your partner, it will only cause problems down the line. You’ll have far more interesting things to talk about if you can come back to each other after time apart with stories to tell and new-found knowledge to pass on.
2. But You Still Prioritize Your Relationship
Having said all that, whilst you should never overburden your relationship, it should still be a priority for both of you.
Remind yourself not to take the relationship for granted at any point, and set aside time for the two of you to spend together.
Considering how hectic most of our lives are these days, particularly once children or other dependents are thrown into the mix, if you don’t schedule in quality time together, you probably won’t end up having any.
Aim to connect with each other daily for some one on one time. Fully focus on each other, even for just 15 minutes over a cup of tea, and arrange regular date nights or days when you can spend a few hours really enjoying one another’s company.
It can be helpful to see a relationship as a separate entity that actively needs nourishing. A fire, after all, will eventually die out when it’s burnt through all the available fuel. Time together is equivalent to stoking or throwing a log on the flames.
3. You Have Fun Together
I know, the phrase ‘working on your relationship’ doesn’t really sound like much fun. But it should be!
Make sure that as well as having the serious conversations, you’re also making time to have fun together.
Think back to the things you did together at the beginning of your relationship and dream up new things you could try.
Try not to take life so seriously and don’t be afraid to be silly and behave like kids again. Revive your in-jokes and take the Mickey out of each other. Enjoy each other’s company!
4. You Push Each Other
The ideal relationship shouldn’t be something that holds you back and means you stagnate; it should push you forward.
Have you ever witnessed one of those breakups or divorces where one or both parties go on to completely revamp their lives? Where they finally do all the things they always dreamed of, but never felt they could do whilst in the relationship.
Be the couple that does those things together, pushing each other and not settling for mediocrity.
You and your partner should do your best to encourage each other to strive toward your respective life goals, whether professional or personal. Be your partner’s biggest cheerleader and remind them they can do anything they set their mind to, and they’ll do the same for you.
5. You Stimulate Each Other Intellectually
Whilst you don’t have to take an intellectual interest in all of the same things, you should have a genuine interest in each other’s minds.
One of you might love an outing to a museum or reading a good book on a Sunday afternoon; the other might be more of a film buff.
But, whilst it’s good to have different interests, you should still be able to have conversations that go beyond the superficial. Whether you discuss culture, politics, or even the meaning of life, you should be interested in delving deeper into the other’s thoughts.
If you think this is lacking in your relationship, try turning off the TV now and then, bypassing the small talk, and asking them about morality, aliens, sex, religion, the stars, their insecurities…
When you dig deep into the psyche of the person you love, you’ll find buried treasure.
6. …And Sexually
For the vast majority of people, sex is an important part of any romantic relationship. At the end of the day, we’re all animals with natural sex drives.
It’s also fairly natural, however, for sex in a long term relationship to become a little lackluster and for both parties to lose interest, particularly when life gets busy and stressful.
What’s required here is a determination to make things work. Just as you should put your cards on the table about your needs in other aspects of the relationship, discussions about sex need to be frank, open, and unashamed.
You should feel comfortable enough with your partner to be able to communicate your needs and ask them about theirs (whilst respecting each other’s boundaries at all times).
If you put the effort in to keep the fire burning and are willing to try new things, there’s no reason why sex can’t continue to get better as your knowledge of each other’s bodies and desires deepens over the years.
7. You Put All Your Cards On The Table
Honesty is almost always the best policy. A healthy relationship shouldn’t be based on things that you both assume are ‘implied’ in a look or the way you phrase something.
Whilst discussions about relationships can be tricky to negotiate, if you both approach it with the intention of making things completely clear between you, talks like this will typically be positive and strengthen your bond.
Whether it’s a conversation about the future direction of the relationship or talk of a secret wish to emigrate to another country, yours and your partner’s expectations should be spelled out to avoid any confusion.
8. You’re A Team
If you’re in a committed relationship, you should view your partner as a teammate. If you share a household or have children or pets together, you need to be able to rely on one another.
Whilst the fairy tales don’t mention this part, the realities of cohabiting mean you both have to play your part to keep the show on the road.
At times, one of you will need the other to pick up the slack a little more, but it should always be reciprocated. When you need a bit more support, you should be able to ask for it, but you should always be more than willing to return the favor.
When you’re a team member, you always have each other’s backs and know where your loyalties lie.
9. Above All, You’re Always Kind
It can be very easy to find yourself lashing out at your partner. How many times have you cracked and said things you don’t really mean when you feel hurt by something they’ve done or not done?
It can be so tempting and so easy to let something scathing slip, but when you feel the temptation to lash out, keep it in. Passive aggressive behavior, manipulation, and sarcastic comments that you know will hit home will never help any situation.
They’ll only serve to drive a wedge between you and will probably mean your partner will start to put up defensive walls against you, not wanting to be hurt again.
You won’t always agree with one another – and that’s completely normal and healthy – but make it a priority to address any disagreements directly, quickly, and calmly, always holding the intention in your heart of not hurting your partner with any barbed words.
You know them so well that you know how to hit them where it hurts, but by committing to you, they’re trusting you not to use that knowledge against them.
Be kind and love with all your heart, and you won’t go too far wrong.
Still not sure what goals to set in your relationship? Chat online to a relationship expert from Relationship Hero who can help you figure things out. Simply click here to chat.
The Importance Of Revisiting Relationship Goals With Your Partner
Answer me this: how long have you and your partner been together?
5 years? 10 years? Longer?
No doubt at some point during that time – probably on multiple occasions – you’ve sat down at work with your boss and discussed your work performance, the overall health of the business, and the plans for the business’ future.
…so why isn’t this a regular occurrence in relationships?
We know how important it is to review and revisit goals in a work environment, but it’s just as important – if not more so – to do the same type of review with your intimate partner(s).
If you’re asking why, let me explain…
Time = Change
Think about where you were when you were 20 years old. Or, if you’re 20, think of the person you were when you were 15.
A lot has changed since then, hasn’t it?
Hell, a lot has likely changed in the past six months, let alone over the past few years or decades.
Whether it’s through overall life experience or sudden epiphanies, we all grow and change as time passes.
That doesn’t just mean you: it means your partner as well.
They’re unlikely to be the exact same person you met and fell for X amount of time ago, and their own personal aspirations and needs are likely to have shifted significantly as well.
The key is to talk to them openly and candidly about where they are, how they’re feeling, and whether they’re happy about current circumstances.
Talking Openly Can Be Really Scary
One of the main reasons why people hesitate to talk to their partners about their relationship is because they’re terrified that the other person will say that they’re unhappy.
Or worse… that they want to end the relationship.
People will go to extraordinary lengths to stay in a “safe space,” where they feel secure and comfortable.
Maintaining the status quo is a lot easier than facing the very real possibility of losing someone they care about. And losing their comfortable little happy place with it… even if it stopped being truly happy a long time ago.
Consider how many people you know who talk to you about their relationship woes instead of talking to their partners about them.
Why is that?
Why do people hesitate to be honest and forthright with the person who’s closest to them?
The main reason most people give for their lack of open communication is because they’re scared of hurting the other person.
I mean, when we think about our partners, spouses, etc., we’re with them for a reason, right?
We wouldn’t be with these people if we didn’t love them dearly.
Even if romantic love has cooled a little bit, we still care for them deeply and wouldn’t want to cause them any pain.
If we tell them that certain feelings have changed, or that personal interests and life goals have shifted, we run the very real risk of hurting someone we care about quite deeply.
The thing is, when we discuss these matters openly – with loving kindness and compassion – we open the doors to growth and change.
Those don’t need to be scary: they can actually be incredibly healing and beautiful.
For all we know, our partners may feel the same way that we do, and have been hesitating to talk to us for the same reasons: they don’t want to hurt us, they’re afraid that voicing certain needs will rock the boat, etc.
But once those floodgates are open, there’s an amazing opportunity to work through things with our loved ones and move forward together, into more positive, happier, more fulfilling realms.
Renegotiating The Contract
Whether you’re in a marriage, a civil partnership, or any other kind of relationship, it’s more than likely that certain goals and boundaries have been established.
You may have decided to work toward a specific goal together (like buying a house), and have personal rules that need to be respected (like having X time to yourself on a particular day).
But… what happens when personal goals and desires change?
Is it more important to keep plodding toward a contract you signed up to years ago if you’re a different person now?
How do you know that the other person is still invested in this goal as well?
Simple. You talk to them.
Imagine that house-buying scenario for a minute. Let’s say that when they got together, a couple decided that they would save up to buy a house.
As the years have gone by, one of them knows for a fact that they don’t really want to buy a home and settle down just yet: they’d rather spend a year travelling the world… but they don’t tell their partner that, because of the goal they committed to together.
…meanwhile, unbeknownst to them, their partner feels the same way.
THEY would rather take a year off and do a whole lot of travelling together, but they don’t want to say anything for fear of upsetting their loved one, risking hurt and conflict and a potential breakup.
So the two of them plod forward with fake smiles and forced enthusiasm, looking at real estate listings instead of travel brochures. They’re both miserable, and that misery could turn into a breakup in the not-too-distant future.
If they’d just TALK to each other about how they really feel, they could do the travelling that they both want to do and be truly happy – doing exactly what their hearts and souls ache for, together.
The Worst Truth Is Better Than The Best Lie
Have you heard the expression, “This above all: to thine own self be true”?
It’s really important to live authentically, but many (possibly most) people don’t.
They put on masks and maintain facades in order to make other people happy. To keep up appearances, keep others comfortable in their content little bubbles, all the while dying inside because they’re living a lie.
Being honest about who you are and what you need is immensely freeing, and can actually alleviate all kinds of emotional and mental hardships.
Sure, there’s inevitably going to be negative fallout, but that passes with time.
What you’re left with is the freedom to be who you really are, and pursue what you really need to make your soul shine.
With regard to how this might affect your relationship, you could be dealing with anything from an aching desire to change careers or go back to school, to the need to transition gender to the one that you feel is right for you.
Plodding onward in a life that doesn’t fit you anymore isn’t good for you or those you share your life with.
Partners and children can tune into your despair, and it affects them in turn.
Even if you feel like you’re maintaining that status quo really well, there are undoubtedly undercurrents that ripple outward into the lives of those around you.
You May Be Pleasantly Surprised
As mentioned, one of the main reasons why a person may hesitate to discuss what may be considered as a “difficult” topic with their spouse is because they’re afraid of how they might respond.
We usually assume how another person will react, but those assumptions are often based on personal bias.
Basically, we never really know how a person will respond to a subject or situation until we broach it with them.
Case in point: a married couple that stayed together during the male (now female) partner’s gender transition. It must have been excruciating for the trans partner to open up to her wife about how she felt, but she received unconditional support and acceptance.
Long-term relationships need to shift and change, lest they stagnate. Some couples find that they’re happier if they become polyamorous, and some polyamorous couples may try monogamy.
A couple that has always balked at raising kids might suddenly want to become parents. Or cat people might secretly love to adopt a dog.
Humans are constantly growing and changing, whether it’s emotionally, spiritually, physically, or a mix of all of the above (and more).
Expecting a relationship to remain constant and unchangeable in the face of ever-shifting sands is unrealistic.
You and your partner love and respect one another. Offering each other the chance to live your authentic truths, with support and encouragement, is part of that love and respect.
It’s great to give them the opportunity to step up and be the partner they know they can be, even if things may be a little weird now and then.
Isn’t that what partners are for?
Give them the chance to be awesome.
“Are You Happy With The Way Things Are?”
That’s an incredibly powerful-yet-difficult question to ask the one you love.
Chances are, if they burst into tears upon being asked that, the answer might be “no.” If it IS no, this is the opportunity to address it.
In fact, if you’re both unhappy, this is the perfect time for both of you to splay all your stuff on the table and find a way to sort through it together.
When you’re in a relationship with another person, it’s more than likely that your greatest wish is for one another’s happiness.
By being open and honest, you not only have a greater chance of attaining your own authentic joy: you have the ability to help them reach theirs.
These open dialogues allow you to bring up topics that you feel need to be addressed with your love one(s), in a safe, loving, and non-judgmental space.
You may also like:
- Falling In Love: The 10 Stages You’ll Go Through
- 7 Key Differences Between Lust And Love
- Is True Love A Choice Or A Feeling?
- 10 Signs You’re A Hopeless Romantic
- 13 Reasons Why I Love You To Pieces
- When Is The Right Time To Say “I Love You” In A Relationship?