If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else. ~Lawrence J. Peter
Couples who seek marriage/relationship help realize that something isn’t working in their relationship but often they do not have a vision for what their relationship should look like.
Why relationship goals matter to your love life
Just for a moment, imagine your life without goals. That’s right: pretend you just wiped away every single goal imaginable–from the mundane sort like getting out of bed and brushing your teeth to the bigger variety, like deciding where to live or to have a child.
I bet you can’t imagine it.
For many of us a life without goals can feel like unstructured, amorphous stretches of time. Setting goals can direct, energize and motivate you. And meeting your goals is a tremendously rewarding experience.
A quick exercise on goal setting:
1. Take a moment to jot down three goals that are important to you–things you want to achieve in your life.
Common responses people give when asked about their goals include things like: making more money while working less, exercising more and losing weight (and keeping it off) and getting out of debt.
Money and health often top people’s goal-setting list.
2. Now make a list of what you cherish most in your life.
Is this list a replica of your goal list?
Often when are asked to reflect on what one cherishes most in life, marriage and relationships often top the list.
Couples Fail to Create Relationship Goals
Here is what’s remarkable: typically people don’t have any goals for what they cherish most in life–their marriage or relationship.
When it comes to goal-setting, marriage is left at the curb. There’s a dangerous assumption lurking that a good relationship will take care of itself.
Relationship Help: Create a Relationship Vision
In order to create marital/relationship goals, it’s important to have a vision that details the kind of spouse/ partner you aspire to be as well as the type of relationship that is important to you and your partner.
The relationship you desire should be consistent with your personal values.
When your goals are out of sync with your values, you’ll find yourself stalled on the road to your relationship destination.
A set of relationship goals is a roadmap that lends direction to your marriage/relationship. If your relationship already meets your vision, then working to keep the relationship at this level can be your goal.
Marriage/Relationship Help: How to create relationship goals
Imagine that your mate has been hired to teach a class about you at NYU. The syllabus is a written testament to the type of spouse/partner you’ve been throughout the history of your marriage/relationship.
Not holding anything back, s/he will detail your strengths and weaknesses as a spouse/partner. The entire truth (as your partner sees it) will be unfurled for an eager audience motivated to learn all about you.
What do you imagine s/he will say about you?
For this exercise to be effective, it’s important to respond to this question as honestly as possible. If you find yourself resisting this exercise or focusing more on what you’d like your partner to say, you won’t establish any meaningful goals.
Remember, this exercise is designed to help you take a realistic look at yourself as a spouse/partner, a necessary step in creating goals that will make a difference in your marriage/relationship. You will need to open yourself up to some truths that may sting.
Take my word–it will be well worth it.
There’s relationship gold to be found in the gap:
There will be a gap between what you’d like your partner to convey in his/her lecture and what s/he would actually say.
This gap contains valuable information that you’ll use to set up marital/relationship goals. Keep in mind that establishing and reaching relationship goals means committing to changing your behavior. The focus should be on you and not what you believe your mate should do differently.
The guiding question is: How wide is this gap and what can you do to narrow it?
When you begin to take steps to answer this question, you start accumulating the information you need to create your relationship goals. Don’t rush this–it should be a process that you come back to over and over again.
Use the gap between how you are perceived by your partner and the type of partner you aspire to be to establish concrete, realistic goals for you to work toward.
Here’s to creating a healthy marriage/relationship!
Dr. Rich Nicastro
(Featured image “Wedding rings” by Tina Phillips. Freedigitalphotos.net.