Goal Setting in Relationships

Setting goals with your partner can be a double-edged sword. On one end, when you achieve them you feel joy and exhilaration for having realized a dream or aspiration. On the other hand, when you fail to meet them, you may face disappointment as you are forced to reevaluate your ambitions. When it comes to your relationship, setting achievable goals with a tone of collaboration can help enrich each other’s lives and support the bond between you and your partner.

The Anatomy of Relationships

No relationship is the same, and just like people change over time, so does a relationship. According to Donald Peterson, contributing author of “Goal Concepts in Personality and Social Psychology,” there are five general stages that can be distinguished in the development of close relationships: acquaintance, buildup, continuation, deterioration and ending. Obviously not all relationships go through all stages, but the changes in goals from one stage to another are critical in determining the course a relationship will follow.

Stephen John Read and Lynn Carol Miller, also contributing authors of “Goal Concepts in Personality and Social Psychology,” recount how individuals may base their projections of what a relationship might be like with someone in part on how each other’s life goals will mesh with one other. The idea that “opposites attract” has been debunked by research showing how “most married couples tend to be more alike than different in regards to life goals, interests, values and personality dispositions, as well as education, economic status, and other sociological variables.” In other words, when evaluating a prospective partner, people look at how they can accomplish goals in common, for example having intellectually stimulating conversations, having children, etc.

 

Goal-Setting Strategies

Relationship goals can cover the gamut, including areas such as problem solving, emotional support, financial goals, creating a family, etc. One way to set goals in your relationship is by having a weekly meeting with your significant other to go over the upcoming week and set a ‘to-do’ list of items for each other. Then, review those same items from the past week and move forward anything still needing to be completed. As part of this process, share three positive things big or small that your partner did that you liked in the past week, and one negative thing you would like them to consider working on. In time, you will have created a habit of openly talking about where things are with your relationship, and where you want them to be.

Another way to set goals with your significant other is by applying some of the guidelines set forth in “Goal Setting: How to Create an Action Plan and Achieve Your Goals.” Authors Susan B. Wilson and Michael S. Dobson recommend writing them down in specific measurable terms, so that you can visualize and achieve them with realistic deadlines. As part of defining these goals, make sure to keep them manageable and actionable, as well as include a regular review of their progress. Reward desired behavior, reinforce successes however big or small and provide feedback when correction is needed. When correcting, do so in private and be specific, focusing on the error and not the person to avoid grudges and keep a healthy outlook. Develop objectives for both the short and long term.

 

From Extrinsic to Intrinsic Motivation

In a study published in the “Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,” researchers examined the connection between relationship satisfaction and self-regulation. “Individuals experiencing higher levels of satisfaction in their relationship exhibit higher levels of perceived control, goal focus, perceived partner support, and positive affect during goal pursuit.” This results in higher rates of daily progress on personal goals. In other words, as your relationship satisfaction increases, so does your motivation to effectively self-regulate your actions and progress toward achieving your goals.

According to Peterson, goals between partners tend to converge to the extent that transformations occur mutually. For example, “a person who initially stopped smoking to please a partner may genuinely come to find smoking abhorrent.” Changes in personal dispositions of this kind are independent of the relationship, and when they occur they can reduce the demands for accommodation by shifting the motivation from an extrinsic to an intrinsic place. Keep in mind that any union is limited by the biological needs and personal goals of the individuals in the relationship, so revisiting them on a regular basis can keep interests and values aligned in the long term.

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From: Live Strong by Raquel Villareal

10 Relationship Facts I Wish I Knew Sooner

Here are 10 important relationship facts which, if you understand and practice them, give you a much greater chance of securing a long term happy and fulfilling relationship instead of it become just another “experience”.

Contrary to what you’ll see at the movies, relationships take work. We’re not talking “hard work” due to incompatibility issues or fundamental differences in important values – but making your partner feel valued so that he or she wants to stay with you and deepens their commitment to you, does require effort.

Studies have shown that intimate relationships between best friends is one of the surest ways to ensure that it’s likely to last. The honeymoon phases with its “high levels of passionate love” and “intense feelings of attraction and ecstasy, as well as an idealization of one’s partner”, doesn’t last forever, according to Monmouth University psychologist Gary W. Lewandowski Jr. There must be something more going on – and at the end of the day, being “best friends” first, just might be the key.

Relationship Facts that Everyone Should Know

1.  If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not taking enough risks.

“Making mistakes” doesn’t mean cheating.  What it does mean is, doing things within the boundaries of the relationship with good intentions but if it turns out that they were not healthy, you take responsibility for them.  Without mistakes, there is no growth.  So this process simulates change and growth.  The bonding comes from taking risks and making mistakes as a couple, then learning from them and becoming stronger as a team.

2.  Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time.

Many believe relationships should just come naturally, like the rush of dopamine that shot into your brain when you both first met.  Actually, to be in a monogamous relationship where you are constantly challenged to look at yourself and compromise your wants / needs is unnatural.  It goes against our natural human instincts.  In order for us to adapt and embrace this, it takes time – a long time.  If you’re patient, then with the passing of time you will both adapt to each other so that ultimately, by sheer force of habit, it will feel more “natural”.

3.  Work very, very hard.

Nothing of value comes easy! There are some people who understand this principle when it comes to achieving financial security and success but for some reason, somehow imagine that all the happiness and fulfillment of a great relationship will just “come to them” like winning the lottery. There are those who are very proactive at investing time and energy into the relationship while “the chase” is on, or even into the early stages, but once they feel  secure with their partner, imagine that they can take them for granted – and yet – still hold him or her accountable to them for exclusivity and faithfulness. Nobody wants to be someone’s prisoner.

I think many underestimate how much work it takes to make a relationship successful. Referring to the heading again, most tune out after the first “very”.  So what does “very very” hard work look like?  It’s different for everyone.  But you will know because of that giant mountain you see in front of you, the one you’ve always avoided climbing.  The second “very” means self examination.

4.  Ask for opportunities.

Since we think we know our partner so well, we stop asking.  Instead, we assume.  The thing is people change.   If you want something, ask for it.  Their answer may be different today than it would have been yesterday.  If you don’t ask, you’ll never get.  It’s a basic rule of life.  And it also applies in relationships.  I believe this process of asking / communicating creates opportunities to get to know each other better.

5.  Finish what you start.

I’m referring to arguments.  Many start an argument but don’t finish it because it gets too heated.  They walk away and never come back to it.  Issues don’t get resolved.  Instead, people are not heard and there’s anger and resentment.  If you walk away from a fight without consent or getting things resolved, you’re leaving the relationship for that period.  One day, there will be no one to come back to.

6.  Say yes to almost everything.

Assuming it’s healthy and the intent is good, what’s the worst that could happen?  You get out pushed out of your comfort zone?  That’s called an opportunity for growth.  I think we say no too much in relationships.  We don’t like feeling uncomfortable.  If you want more yeses in your life, this is where to start.

7.  Busy is a decision.

Just because you’re in love doesn’t mean it’s time to stop life.  Each should have their own life.  This means making a choice to be busy and working on your own container.  I think many get into a relationship and stop or slow down their own personal busyness.

8.  Don’t censor your dreams before you actually dream.

What ever dreams you had when you were single shouldn’t change because you are now in a relationship, unless it happens organically and honestly.  Many give up their dreams because the relationship doesn’t allow them.  Your dreams can change but don’t censor your dreams for anyone.

9.  In order to strive for a remarkable life, you have to decide you want one.

I think the key word there is you not you guys.  I think many lose themselves in their relationship because they forget about their own wants, needs, and paths.  Remarkable can still happen when you’re in a committed relationship.  But you have to decide you want remarkable and you’re not willing to negotiate that.

10.  It is only a failure if you accept defeat.

We should fight for our relationship.  Always.  Not in our relationship, for our relationship.  There’s you.  There’s your partner.  Then there’s the relationship.  If you accept defeat, you are not fighting for the relationship.  Admitting that you are wrong is not accepting defeat.  Admitting that you are wrong is actually fighting for the relationship.

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From: Happy Relationship Guide