Achieving Your Couple Goals
What goals do you have for your relationship?
If an answer immediately sprang to your mind, that’s fantastic. You already know what you’d like to work on with your partner, and doing that work together will help you create a stronger, happier, and more sustainable relationship.
But if you’re like most people, you might not have clear “couple goals” that you’re working toward. Even if you’re someone who sets goals for your career, your finances, and even your hobbies, you may not yet think about your relationship as an area where you can build skills, develop yourself, and work toward mastery. I hope this podcast episode shifts that for you.
Much to the chagrin of every marriage counselor I know, many people believe that relationship growth work is only for couples who have significant problems. In reality, proactively working on your relationship a little bit every day is how you prevent significant relationship problems from taking root in the first place. Yet, even the most responsible, conscientious, and goal-oriented among us tend to be more reactive than proactive when it comes to our relationships, unfortunately.
Setting couple goals is a way to challenge yourselves and each other, and intentionally grow together into the best possible partners that you can be, before your relationship is in crisis. I hope this conversation gives you some fresh ideas about the positive, growth-oriented work that you and your partner can begin doing right now — while you’re still happy and in love and having a fabulous time together.
Joining me for this conversation is my Growing Self colleague Sara B., a couples counselor and a relationship coach on our team. Sara has helped many people create their ideal relationships, and on today’s podcast, she’s serving up some actionable advice you won’t want to miss.
Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby
P.S. — For even more guidance on achieving your couple goals, check out our “Growing Together” collection of articles and podcasts.
Our authentic relationship experts know how to help you learn, grow, and move forward into a bright new chapter.
How to Set Couple Goals: Episode Highlights
You’ve found a wonderful connection with someone you love, and you want to keep your bond healthy and strong over the long haul. You know you don’t need to wait until you have a full-blown relationship crisis on your hands to start addressing minor issues, and turning them into moments that help you grow together. Kudos — You’re already laying the foundation for a happy, enduring relationship.
But how exactly do you begin working on your relationship, in the absence of obvious problems that need to be addressed? By setting goals together as a couple that make your relationship a little bit better every day, and keep your love healthy and strong for years to come.
Relationship coaching is a service designed to help couples do this kind of growth-focused work together. Many proactive, growth-focused couples find this process fun, and look forward to meeting with their coach to set goals and discuss their progress. If you choose to work with a relationship coach, make sure you find an actual LMFT who has the skills and know-how to help you grow! (More on the difference between relationship coaching and couples therapy here).
Whether you do this work on your own or with a professional, here are the basics of setting your couple goals:
- Find Your Motivation
Accomplishing any goal, including your couple goals, requires staying motivated. The benefits of having a healthy relationship can be a good motivator all on their own. A healthy relationship is like a beautiful, lush ecosystem that you and your partner get to live inside — but it’s also a lot more than that.
If you have children or you plan to someday, the healthy relationship between you and your partner will form the bedrock of your family. It will give your children a safe space to grow and develop into happy, healthy adults who know how to have healthy relationships of their own. Without even trying, they’ll pick up on valuable life lessons, like how to stand up for themselves while still being respectful to others, how to repair a relationship after a fight, and how to show love and appreciation to a partner.
Most importantly, your children will avoid many experiences that could be harmful to their development. We’re all products of our families of origin, and if we grow up under the influence of a less-than-healthy family ecosystem, it impacts how we feel about ourselves as adults, and the way we show up as parents and partners. When you strive to have the healthiest relationship you can, you have the power to literally save the next generation from dysfunction and interrupt unhealthy relationship patterns for generations to come.
It’s about you and your relationship, but it’s about more than that. There’s your motivation!
- Be Willing to Be Messy
Setting and achieving your couple goals is not about perfectionism. In fact, if your goal is to be the “perfect couple,” you’re setting yourself up for failure. You will occasionally fall short of your own expectations. You will both disappoint each other from time to time. Neither one of you will ever be perfect, and that’s ok. What matters is that you commit to an ongoing process of working on your relationship and improving it over time.
The reality of personal growth is that it’s a messy process and it doesn’t always feel good in the moment. If working on your relationship doesn’t push you to function beyond your current limits, then you aren’t really growing, you’re just doing what you already know how to do.
So allow yourself to be human. You will make mistakes, sometimes big ones. It takes vulnerability and humility to examine the ways you might be wrong, and doing so can only make your relationship better.
- Take Your Relationship’s Pulse
Before you can set meaningful couple goals, you have to take stock of where your relationship currently stands.
What do you need from your partner or from your relationship that you’re not currently getting? More importantly, what does your partner need from you? Starting these conversations is a great way to begin exploring the areas of your relationship that could be improved. You might hear about a minor issue that you need to finetune, or you might hear about something more serious. Whatever the outcome, be sure to listen to your partner’s answers without growing defensive, and certainly without emotionally invalidating them, so they feel safe being authentic with you in the future.
If you or your partner don’t know where to begin with this conversation, another great way to find your relationship’s strengths and its growth opportunities is by taking our free “How Healthy Is Your Relationship?” quiz. You’ll get an expert-developed assessment of where you stand now, and the areas of your relationship that could use a little tuneup.
Goals for Couples
When it comes to setting couple goals, no two relationships are alike. The goals that you set with your partner should be meaningful to you both, and should be based on your unique relationship.
Here are a few examples of areas where you and your partner could set goals together:
- Communication — Every couple needs to practice open, authentic, emotionally safe communication. You might set communication goals around connecting with each other on a deeper level, or avoiding assumptions and miscommunication in your relationship, or breaking a pursue-withdraw dynamic or other common negative communication patterns.
- Conflict — Every couple has conflict, whether it’s addressed out in the open or not. You could set goals around conflict such as not invalidating each other during disagreements, or having arguments that are constructive, or even no longer avoiding conflict in your relationship, if that’s your tendency.
- Sex and Intimacy — How’s your sex life? Maybe you’d both like greater sexual intimacy, but there are some courageous conversations you need to have in order to make that possible. Or maybe you need to find new ways to manage differences in sexual desire. Whatever the state of your sex life, it can only benefit from some care, attention, and communication.
- Shared Life Goals — What goals do you have for your life together? Maybe you’d like to retire together by a certain date, or travel the world, or begin building a family. Setting goals that you can both work toward as a couple creates a sense of shared meaning, unity, and commitment to your relationship.
- Teamwork — How are you working together as a team? If you’re like most couples, you have room to grow in this area. If so, you may want to set goals around how you’re dividing household labor, or childcare responsibilities, or other the necessary tasks that keep your household running smoothly.
Accomplishing Your Couple Goals
I hope this episode of the podcast gave you some fresh ideas for how you can begin making gradual improvements to your relationship, so you and your partner can have a connection that’s healthy, loving, and built for the long-haul. If you’re interested in getting involved in this kind of growth-focused couples work, we invite you to schedule a free consultation meeting with one of our positive, experienced relationship experts.
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Achieving Your Couple Goals
The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast with Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby
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Music in this episode is by Donna Summer and Giorgio Meroder with their song “I Feel Love.” Under the circumstance of use of music, each portion of used music within this current episode fits under Section 107 of the Copyright Act, i.e., Fair Use. Please refer to copyright.gov if further questions are prompted.
Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self. She is a licensed psychologist, a licensed marriage and family therapist, and a board-certified coach, as well as the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.
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