How do you create a relationship that can last a lifetime? How can you ensure you stay on the same page and continue growing together, while maintaining space for your own desires and dreams?
We’ve all been inspired by those power couples who seem to have it all together and appear to be more deeply in love than ever before! But there’s a lot of ‘work’ that goes on behind the inspiring “goal” photos. There are conversations, compromising, and celebrating differences. There’s evaluating, setting, and adjusting mutual goals.
The truth is thriving relationships don't happen by chance. Instead, they're the result of a conscious desire to deepen conversation, connection, and intimacy continually.
Relationships take personal effort and joint work to create something beautiful.
And one of the most potent ways you can create this experience for yourself is through deliberate discussion and execution of your relationship goals.
1. Communication is the first step.
It’s vital to discuss your goals with your partner. It’s easy to assume you’re on the same page - you’re partners after all! However, you also have your own life to lead. As such, what was once important to you [or your partner] may have changed over time.
Dr. Gottman of the Gottman Institute researches the importance of shared meaning. He found that couples who create a sense of shared meaning experience higher levels of connectedness. Having a shared sense of what's important encourages emotional intimacy.
When discussing your relationship goals, try discussing your dreams and desires in the following categories:
• Work / career
• Personal growth
...and anything else you choose to focus on!
Try writing down your individual goals for each of these categories and then compare notes with your partner to see where you both align.
You might be surprised. You might have to compromise. But we cannot emphasize how paramount it is to have these discussions.
2. Dive into the nitty-gritty details.
It pays to discuss your goals periodically. This ensures there are no hidden expectations that get swept under the rug for months— or even years.
Evaluating your “us” goals can help you navigate how you’d like to move forward. This way, everything is on the table.
It’s also crucial to ask timeline questions like “What would you like our relationship to look like in six months? A year? 10 years?” Discussing future goals leaves no room for any unsaid expectations.
When expectations come out of nowhere, it can cause your partner to feel caught off guard. They may not know how to help, or why this is suddenly important to you. Or why didn’t you bring up these thoughts earlier?
You might run into an uncomfortable "are we even on the same page" conversation. Not an ideal situation... And nobody wants that.
If your goals and values don’t align, it can cause tension and confusion. This tension can cause unnecessary stress, and discussing your desires is a crucial conversation to have with your partner.
3. Set realistic goals and expectations.
It’s important to set reasonable goals that make you both excited and invested in your future.
This can look like a 10-year plan to own a getaway cabin in the woods (dreams). Or you’re recreating your first date at the same restaurant every year (ritual).
There are even couples who start full-blown foundations together (now that’s goals!)
Even if your goals aren't on a grand scale yet, you can still create a shared vision! You can start with smaller goals each year and then build up to long-term goals; this will make a big impact on your relationship.
It's all about what matters to you personally, together and the life you're hoping to cultivate. Goals that help you grow and all the memories you'll create together.
Make the process yours.
You will be able to look back and say “look at what we created together”.
4. Don’t put it off!
Fantasizing is exciting, but deliberate scheduling and planning are vital in goal-setting as a couple.
We know talking big picture stuff can seem overwhelming. But take a deep breath. Break it down into manageable steps.
To some people setting goals is a fun thing to do. For others, thinking into the future (especially far into the future) can seem daunting.
But there’s an approach that works for every couple.
We're going to give you some goals that can go into the calendar right now!
Start with something small you can put into place as soon as this week. For example:• Fancy Dessert and Movie-at-Home Night every Wednesday.
• Screen-free time together on Sunday
• Play the Date Deck Game or chat through some prompts from the Intimacy Deck.
And just like that- you have scheduled intentional time together.
One goal down!
It's easy to let your personal goals in life like your career goals get in the way. But including your partner in those goals and creating milestones together is a key component of a successful relationship.
You can research all the relationship goal lists the internet has to offer. But aim to curate your goals together with only minimal outside influence. What do you want as a couple?
After you make small exciting goals moving onto the bigger goals might feel easier. The goals that require more steps and planning will feel more attainable after reaching many small goals together.
You may have a vision that combines multiple goals into one big goal. For example, renovating a fixer-upper for example. Rehabbing a home requires you to align on many big and small goals. The location, size, finances, style, and personal involvement with repairs to name a few.
These big-scale projects can take years of planning and executing to complete. And it's extremely important to be on the same page every step of the way. Open communication is key.
Some goals may shift and evolve. But that’s part of the fun of doing it together. It’s like an on-going collaboration with someone you care deeply for. And that’s relationship goals!
5. Enjoy the journey and the destination
When you are working towards your goals together, there is twice the power and energy going into them. Twice the power of doing it alone.
Not only does this create shared meaning between you and your partner- you can also move toward your desires faster.
It’s a win-win.
You are both taking steps toward mutual dreams. You are both bringing deliberate, trackable meaning into your relationship.
You are creating memories for your future selves to look back on. And perhaps, co-creating your legacies.
Have you discussed your relationship goals with your partner? It’s not too late. Start small. Break it down into manageable steps. And most importantly, have fun doing it together!