Have you ever considered creating real relationship goals to protect and enhance your love with your spouse or partner?
Ask anyone who is married or in a committed relationship what their number one priority is, and the majority of people will say, “My partner/spouse.”
But as important as our love relationships are to our health and happiness, it is curious how little time we spend taking care of them.
If you are married or in a committed partnership, stop for a moment and consider the amount of time you spend actively working to strengthen it.
If it’s not much, you certainly aren’t alone.
When we first become a couple, it feels like the intoxicating fuel of infatuation will power your closeness forever.
But over time, that fuel runs low, and the connection begins to hobble along on vapors.
This is the time when miscommunication, conflicts, frustrations, and boredom can sabotage the closeness and undermine the intimacy and joy of both partners.
Many couples aren’t sure what to do at this point, so they don’t do much of anything to revive their connection.
How can they enjoy the profound satisfaction that is possible in a committed, long-term relationship?
The answer is by understanding the stages a couple goes through and setting mutual couple goals.
This requires a commitment to daily actions to reach the best relationship goals for you and your spouse or partner.
Prioritize Each Other
Let’s be honest — most of us talk a big game about the importance of our marriage or love relationship, but when the rubber meets the road, we aren’t really putting the each other first.
Over time, you begin to take one another for granted.
You get busy and distracted with your own stuff and neglect to tune in to the needs and desires of your partner.
You view your coupling as a given, something that’s just a byproduct of your connection to this other person.
But the pairing is an entity on its own. There’s you. There’s your partner. And there’s the relationship.
Of these three, the relationship should be in first place. In fact, it should be in first place over everything else in your life, including your children, work, hobbies, or extended family.
So the goal here must be a mutual one. You both must embrace each other as the centerpiece of your life. How do you do that?
It’s a commitment you have to reinforce every single day in all of your decisions and actions.
It requires constant recalibration based on the needs of each other and what is going on in your lives.
Take a moment every day to ask yourself and each other, “Are we putting each other first today? What do we need to do today to nurture it?”
Create a Couple Bubble
Relationship expert and author, Stan Tatkin, focuses on the importance of creating a “couple bubble.”
A couple bubble reinforces the goal of prioritizing your connection by thinking in terms of “we” rather than “me.”
This is hard for most couples because it requires viewing yourself as part of a team first, above your independent needs and habits.
But rather than this inter-dependence weakening you, it strengthens you because each person feels safe and cherished.
The first step toward reaching this goal is making a series of agreements together that reinforce your care and protection of the relationship.
An example of this might be stating, “I will never intentionally frighten you or leave you,” or “I will treat your vulnerabilities with dignity and care.”
A couple bubble goal also involves:
Becoming experts on each other’s needs, desires, and fears.
Repairing damage to the relationship quickly.
Building up a reservoir of happy memories to counter any difficulties.
Being each other’s rock during difficult times.
Have Daily Connection Time
An important daily goal for your relationship is spending one-on-one time together to reconnect.
If one or both of you work outside of the home, it’s especially important to carve out this time without distractions or interruptions (from children or otherwise).
Try to do this both in the morning before the workday begins and in the evening before you are pulled away to chores and responsibilities.
This is not the time to work through conflict or discuss your issues. It is a time for talking, sharing, embracing, and simply enjoying each other’s company.
Look in each other’s eyes. Hold hands. Listen attentively as the other is talking.
In the morning, you might share some time talking in bed before you get up or over a cup of coffee. In the evening, you might take a walk together or send the kids outside to play while you sit and catch up on your day.
This connection time doesn’t need to be hours long. Even fifteen or twenty minutes is enough to reinforce how much you care about each other.
Communicate with Kindness
Couples goal-setting must include the ways you communicate together. But have you ever noticed how couples can speak to each other with such cruelty and unkindness?
They say things to each other that they’d never dream of saying to a casual acquaintance or even someone they don’t like.
When we feel hurt, angry, or frustrated, it’s so easy to lash out and say hurtful things. Sometimes we employ passive-aggressive words and behaviors, using subtle digs, manipulation, or stonewalling to express how we feel.
Both overt and covert words and behaviors like these are deeply wounding, and over time they accumulate enough to cause serious problems in a relationship. You lose trust, mutual respect, and eventually love.
Make it a goal to be kind in all of your communication. Being kind doesn’t mean you have to agree with each other or even feel loving during a challenging moment.
It does mean you agree to avoid attacking, insulting, or intentionally wounding each other. It means you speak forthrightly without using passive or manipulative behaviors.
It means you step away or count to ten when you feel like lashing out, knowing that you don’t want to say or do something you’ll later regret.
We are all human, and of course, there will be times you fall short of your kindness goal. But make it a goal to apologize quickly, offer forgiveness quickly, and reset your kindness goal as soon as possible.