5 Real Relationship Goals
“Relationship goals” has been the catchphrase on the tip of everyone’s tongue, but, who’s setting these unrealistic standards of perfection? Not even those on the perfectly framed Instagram platform can achieve these unattainable images with any level of consistency? I wanted to share just five simple, practical and very realistic relationship goals everyone can reach to hopefully alleviate some of the potentially damaging pressures we often put on our relationships and marriages under in the name of #RelationshipGoals.
Psychologist and goal-setting theorist, Dr Edwin Locke, has spent many years researching human actions in an effort to try and explain how having a clear vision has the ability to make us more driven to achieve our expectations. Locke developed a goal setting theory based on five key principles to help more people understand how to work towards achieving the bigger picture. He believed we needed clarity, challenge, commitment, feedback and task complexity to successfully reach our goals.
He also found that 90% of the time, the more specific we are with our goals and the more challenging they are, the more likely we are to achieve them over people who had vague goals that appeared relatively easy.
So whilst it may feel great to have a general idea of what #relationshipgoals may look like, if we want to realistically improve our relationships, it’s been proven that we’ll need to get a lot more specific with what that will look like within our own lives and embrace the fact this process is likely to be a challenge.
When our perfect picture of a relationship is far from our reality, it can often become easier to just live vicariously through the lives of our friends and even Instagram idols. I’m the first to put my hand up and admit to wanting more out of life, if we’re being honest, we all do but, the fact is that it takes more than just good intentions to achieve your relationship goals. By actually writing down what you would want your own relationship to look like you can significantly improve your chances of realising those aspirations.
A collaborative study conducted by Morisano, Hirsh, Peterson, Phil and Shore investigated the power of goal setting by introducing a group of struggling students to a written goal-setting program. Interestingly, they found that the students who completed their 4-month goal-setting intervention improved their academic performance by 30%.
This study showed that while achieving results can take time and a level of consistency, writing goals down seemed to be the most important ingredient to get us started on a life-changing journey to achieving our goals.
Whilst this article explores #REALRelationshipGoals the truth is, writing your own personal vision down first could possibly be the first step to helping you figure out how compatible your ideals are with your partner.
Just in case you needed any further proof, consider this; the goals you currently have in your head right now have to compete with around 3600 other thoughts that bombard your mind each and every hour. If we don’t write them down how else will they survive?
Now we know how important goals are for us as individuals, here are 5 practical ways we can start achieving some real relationship goals with the ones we love.
This sounds like the most obvious piece of advice, but, I was at least 5 years into my marriage before I realised that joint plans were not something that was just “nice to have” but was actually something that would play a crucial part in our future together. I never truly valued the benefits of planning because it was easier for us to just wing it when it was just the 2 of us, but, everything changes when you start a family.
Leading a family when you have no plans or direction can breed frustration especially when children are involved.
I’ve learned that working on a joint plan with my wife has really helped us both to embrace that vision and work towards it as a team.
Sometimes it can be very easy to look at our relationships from an insular perspective. Rather than thinking about what we can get from our relationship, perhaps our goal should be to reflect on who else will become beneficiaries of our union. Tweet This!
Take a moment to think about how your relationship currently impacts your partner and your wider circle of influence? Look forward and imagine your future together, maybe even think about how your collective vision will benefit your family and those around you. Taking a little time out to think about these things often highlights the significance of where we currently are in our relationship and points us in the direction of where we should be heading.
Making a conscious effort to discuss and write down long-term plans shows commitment and a willingness to add value to someone outside of ourselves. This helps us to openly prioritise the importance of our relationship and helps to build a sense of security as we focus on what’s ahead.
I believe that relationships are a great place to receive the level of support and feedback we often need to keep each other on track. Sharing goals with someone who has our best interest at heart has been proven to increase our chances of achieving our goals.
In fact, a study carried out by Gail Matthews at a university based in California found that more than 70% of the participants who sent their weekly updates to a close friend reported successful goal achievements, compared to 35% of those who kept their goals to themselves, without writing them down.
They say a problem shared is a problem halved and with all the good intention in the world, it’s hard to make progress when around 40% of us forget to check the goals we have written down!
So why not try getting collaborative, start writing down some real relationship goals with your partner and energise your relationship with a plan that keeps you both focused on growing together. Tweet This!
Typically I’m more of a film kinda guy and as a writer, I probably shouldn’t be saying this, however, tucking into a book had never ranked high on my “quality couple time” list. Sacrilege, I know but, after watching all the movies we could possibly watch, we decided to give reading a try and I must admit, I was pleasantly surprised. I’ve never spent time reading a book with someone recreationally but I found that we started to connect on a different level. I noticed that if we read together in the morning it would set a positive tone for the rest of the day for the both of us. The truth is that after being with my wife for over 13 years, conversations can get a little stale and monotonous at times but, now all of a sudden we had new things to talk about.
We had a chance to see how we could both read the same text yet draw two completely different conclusions. Reading became a new connection point in our relationship and I found it to be far more engaging than sitting in front of the TV.
The good thing about reading together is that it can help remove tension as it is known as a stress reducing activity, it has the ability to strengthen an intellectual connection and potentially create a new spark in conversation. Whatever you do together will eventually sync your desires, so when we read together we become not only more in sync with one another but we grow in intellect also.
Regular gym sessions with your partner it’s likely to result in you both getting fitter together. Reading is no different. Try finding books that you both like and start exploring a new dimension of reading with each other.
LEARN TO SPEAK ANOTHER LOVE LANGUAGE
I was encouraged to learn French in school as I was told that not speaking another language could potentially limit any possible options later on in life. It’s safe to say, I choose to disregard that information back then, however, little did I know I would experience this first hand a few years later when travelling to Paris for a weekend. Being a young Brit at the time, I just expected my English to be widely accepted wherever I went, however to my surprise many of the locals refused to engage in a conversation with me unless I at least tried to speak their language first. I found this to be a bit rude, however, on reflection, I discovered that communicating selfishly creates barriers and nowhere is this highlighted more than when trying to build a relationship with someone you love. Tweet this!
I read Dr. Gary Chapman’s best selling book ‘The Five Love Languages’ where he identifies; quality time, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, and physical touch as the five basic love languages we use to express our heartfelt commitment within our relationships. Communication barriers can often cause frustration within a relationship but by learning how to communicate in your partner’s language you give yourselves the opportunity to explore each other on new levels of intimacy.
When we are communicating in a language that is foreign to us we tend to use our ears and our mouth in proportion. Our intuitions are also heightened as a result of simply focusing on listening more. In fact, a study shows that Bilinguals are actually better listeners.
Learning your partner’s love language can make you more aware of the emotional needs within your relationship. Tweet This!
The great thing about speaking your partner’s language is that we’re able to navigate around any unnecessary miscommunication and recognise that look, touch or signals of love your partner may be communicating.
So, learning a love language isn’t a million miles away from learning to speak French. Even if you think you may already know, try asking your partner what their love language is. Give the love language test a go here.
Find out how you both naturally give and receive love and start speaking each other’s language today.
HANG OUT WITH MARRIED COUPLES
My parents would always say “Show me your friends and I’ll show you who you are?” and now we have data that backs this sentiment.
Research has shown that men and women with close friends or siblings who are divorced are 75% more likely to break up in their own marriages, than if they had happily married friends.
This would seem to be basic common sense right? If you hang out with people who are nonchalant about cheating on their partners, you will eventually become desensitised to this issue and potentially find nothing wrong or maybe even sympathise with the act of infidelity. So essentially, we become the company we keep.
Hanging out with couples that you and your partner relate to can help to provide a healthy community where a culture of love and commitment is encouraged.
Hearing from friends that value interdependency could be the difference between you working through your challenges and you walking away from something you may later regret.
Taking the time to find married couples who are further along the line then you are can help add perspective to your relationship. It can also debunk the filtered, fairy-tale, ideals many of us try to aspire to.
Seeing a couple disagree respectfully should inspire #RealRelationshipGoals Tweet This! Seeing a couple you know get creative with their finances to express their love for each other without going into debt may inspire #RealRelationshipGoals. Seeing how a couple manage to prioritise alone time whilst running a busy household may inspire #RealRelationshipGoals Tweet This!
Being close enough to ask questions and see how a mature relationship plays out in real life is invaluable, especially when it’s a friend.
This week, why not try picking the brains of a married couple who’ve been in the relationship game a little longer than yourself. If it goes well, maybe try hanging out with them more often, they may offer a fresh perspective.
My family motto and area of constant focus is “Faith, Family and Freedom” and I’m a firm believer that there is much more to gain from being connected to a purpose, community and vision that is much bigger than yourself.
Praying with my wife and family is always a great moment to realign ourselves with the most important aspects of life whilst being charged with a collective sense of hope for what the future may hold.
Praying together is a private practice that should definitely be up there with our real relationship goals. It will challenge you to become less consumed with yourself and more compassionate to the needs of others.
Prayer promotes gratitude. Research has shown that some good ‘ole fashioned gratitude has the power to strengthens social bonds and increases the likelihood of someone wanting to help you again. Praying together is a great time to focus on the blessings in your life and the good intentions you have for yourself and others. It can also magnify the positives and diminish the size of the negative things that were once a concern.
According to a study published in the British Journal of Health Psychology, John Maltby, Christopher Alan Lewis and Liza Day found that praying can reduce your risk of developing depression and anxiety. Interestingly enough, they also found that you have a higher probability of being positive and less depressed if you prayed at a place of worship.
You may never have thought this, but praying makes you happier! Associate Professor Uffe Schjoedt from Denmark published a study that stated:
“Religious prayer is a form of frequently recurring behaviour capable of stimulating the dopaminergic reward system in practising individuals”
So regular prayer can actually boost your ‘happy hormone’.
They say a couple that prays together, stays together and this old saying may have just hit the nail on the head!
Try building a spiritual connection with your partner. We now know that prayer improves trust, unity and happiness, which is a great place to gain some of the essential ingredients needed for a long lasting relationship.
I think we can all agree that there’s more to life than selfie posts and soppy relationship statuses. Rather than looking outward for escapism let’s try using these real relationship goals to cultivate more meaningful relationships with the ones that truly matter.