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

When Your Spouse Doesn’t Like Your BFFs…

Remember those days when you first met your spouse and everything felt like springtime? Those initial months were full of all the best firsts—first dates, first smooches, first adventures, and of course, the first time you introduced him or her to the other “loves of your life”—your besties. In an ideal world, your pals like your partner just as much as you do, and vice versa. But when they don’t? It can wreak havoc not on the friendships, but rather, on your marriage, according to a new study.

For the study, researchers followed 355 heterosexual couples to determine the impact of friendships on marriage after 16 years. None of the couples was interracial, to rule out race as a potential source of tension). What the researchers found was fascinating: In white couples where the husbands liked their wife’s friends, 70 percent of couples were still together by the end of the study. However, in white couples where the husbands didn’t like their partner’s pals, only 50 percent remained together. For black couples, liking the friends didn’t seem to impact the relationship.

What do psychologists think of this theory? Sex and relationships therapist Courtney Geter, LMFT, CST says that connecting friend groups is an important aspect of a relationship, and not getting along with one another’s tribe can lead to arguments. “It is typical for spouses to bring up friends in conversations. If your husband makes a negative comment about your friends, you may feel unsupported or torn between two aspects of your life,” she explains. “If you don’t address your feelings and resolve the conflict, it could impact other areas of the relationship, such as enjoyment spent with your husband or even areas such as sex.”

The disapproval of your friend group is worse when it’s coming from your partner, whose opinion usually means more than anyone else’s. “This is the person that we love and trust the most, so their assessment of others around us matters to us,” says psychologist Nikki Martinez, PsyD, LCPC.” We want to know that they agree that someone is a good person, that they are likable, and that they enjoy being around them,” she says.

One possible reason we may be bumping into this problem more and more in recent years is that dating patterns have shifted from in-person to online. So whereas we used to meet people at parties or through friends, where there was already a built-in connection and like-mindedness, increasingly we’re meeting people on dating sites and apps, where there’s no such framework.

This Internet lens can be tricky to navigate, as your partner gets to know your friends not at a bar or a BBQ but via their profiles and posts, which can be heavily curated. “Social media does not provide a realistic view of another person’s life, as they are posting the best-looking or most exciting pictures and status updates about their lives,” Geter says. “Since there is a screen between you and the rest of the world, humans are more likely to make comments they typically wouldn’t make in person or they can avoid conflict resolution with one click of a button or closing a window.”

So is your marriage doomed if your husband isn’t a fan of your BFFs? Definitely not, according to Geter and Martinez, but you might have to manage expectations on both sides. One key way to approach it is to have couple friends and individual friends, neither of which have to mingle.

In fact, it’s a good idea to have your own set of pals for support. “I encourage women to have friends outside of the couple relationship as well as hobbies outside of her husband’s interest. Not only does this allow distance for you to miss your husband, but it also provides opportunities for sharing when you are together,” Geter says. “Since you have your own personal friend group outside of the couple friend group, this may limit how often your husband is around those friends.”

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From: Reader’s Digest by Lindsay Tigar

We Were Never Together, So Why Can’t I Stop Thinking Of You?

You were never my boyfriend. Sure, we flirted, dancing together in your living room and exchanging back massages in your bedroom. Sure, we cuddled, pretending to watch television while our bodies were pressed together in an act more intimate than sex. Sure, we kissed, your lips against my mouth and neck while your hands cradled my hips. But we were never together, so why can’t I stop thinking of you?

You snuck winks at me when you realized everyone else was glancing away. You kept your arm around me when you saw them staring straight on. We had a connection that was more than casual. Real friendship mixed in with our flirtations. Laughter and inside jokes tangled in with the sexual tension. But neither of us did anything about it, so why can’t I stop thinking of you?

I can still hear your voice, lightly singing along in my car, hoping I couldn’t hear. Can still smell your cologne, with the scent that grew thicker as we hugged for a few moments too long. Still see your eyes, flicking down to my lips, waiting for another kiss we would pretend meant nothing. But it’s been months since we’ve actually seen each other, so why can’t I stop thinking of you?

We stopped talking out of nowhere. Lost contact on every platform in a world overflowing with ways to connect. We never said goodbye, and I still can’t figure out why that is. But if we ever ran into each other again, we wouldn’t acknowledge the lack of closure. No, we’d act like everything was normal, like we were two platonic friends, just like we always did. But nothing ever happened and nothing ever will, so why can’t I stop thinking of you?

I’ve been spending more time with myself, learning the ins and outs of my brain and body. Trying to find out who I am without you and what I want besides you. Realizing that enough “me” time can cure the loneliness you’ve infected me with. But I’m happy now, so why can’t I stop thinking of you?

I’ve met a new man who has stolen your title as the love of my life. He holds me like you did and kisses me like you did. Except he exists in the present tense while you’re just an exhausting memory floating around in the back of my brain. He’s never going to ghost or say goodbye. He’s nothing like you, not in the good ways or the bad. But he loves me, and he’s helped me learn to love me. He’s helped me learn a lot of things.

And that’s why I’ve finally stopped thinking of you.

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From Thought Catalog by Holly Riordan

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

Travelling for Work & Discovering Yoga

Just got back from 5 days of work out of the office! I love being a lawyer and I enjoy helping people out, but let me tell you, the past few days have been INSANE! Normally, we are tasked to handle around 6 cases a month, give or take other assignments. But this time, we were tasked to finish our workload in 5 days! I swear I thought I was going to collapse any moment.

So what did I do to keep sane?

Luckily, the hotel we were staying at had a gym so I made sure I put in at least an hour each day while we were there. It’s such an amazing feeling to be able to do cardio past 30 minutes. I normally can’t last till 15 minutes! I’m really looking forward to getting better at it.

I also discovered amazing yoga exercises for my neck and back. The hotel bed was quite uncomfortable so I woke up with crazy neck cramps and back pain. I found the info photo below online and decided to try it. VOILA! No more neck pain! You know the stuff they tell you about yoga and its benefits? It’s REAL! I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if yoga can help cure major diseases.

Check out these yoga poses. Do them and hold each pose for around 5 to 10 breaths each. Meaning inhale exhale slowly around 5 to 10 times before you switch to another pose. Hope they work for you like they did for me.

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xoxo,

Cristine