What are your relationship goals? Maybe you’re looking to tie the knot, maybe you’re thinking about breathing new life into a marriage that’s gotten a little stale. Perhaps you’d just like your partner not to take you for granted or vice versa.
Are Relationship Goals Necessary?
Across the board, that answer is a resounding yes, relationship goals are necessary for a happy and healthy relationship.
It’s easy to assume that love is enough to make a relationship strong. However, healthy relationships require both love and commitment. Setting relationship goals — short-term and long-term — can help a relationship grow stronger while making sure both partners (or all parties if you are in a polyamorous relationship) are on the same page and deriving happiness from the relationship. Relationship goals will also help you figure out earlier on if you and your partner aren’t compatible — or even if the relationship is toxic.
If you are looking for ideas on the most important relationship goals or are curious about what an ideal relationship looks like, here is a guide to finding lasting love and improving your partnership including 12 relationship goals for a stronger bond.
12 Relationship Goals for a Happier, Stronger, and Improved Relationship
1. Embrace imperfection
Of the relationship goals that are important to remember, but easy to forget, include that no relationship is perfect. You are not perfect, your partner is not perfect, you are both two imperfect people who love each other and have chosen to do life together. Fairy tales, movies, and social media often portray relationships as flawless, which can give the false impression that a healthy relationship is free of conflict. Try not to compare your relationship to anyone else’s — especially one that is made up for entertainment’s sake — and be more realistic with your own imperfections and those of your partner’s.
2. Understand each other
Everyone has different relationship goals and ways they like to express and receive love. That’s where learning your love language comes in. Developed by Gary Chapman, Ph.D, the five love languages consist of words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. In addition to the book The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate, there is a free test online to discover your love language. It can be helpful to understand your love language and your partner’s love language in order for the two of you to better understand and support each other.
3. Align on core values and beliefs
Central to your relationship goals should be to make sure you and your partner are aligned on your core values and beliefs. This is not a one and done conversation, but rather an ongoing conversation as your circumstances change and you evolve as both individuals and as a unit. For example, let’s say five years ago being able to pick up and move whenever you wanted was a core value for the two of you. But now you are craving stability and would like to settle down somewhere. It is important to make sure you talk to your partner about how your values might have shifted so you can decide how to move forward together.
4. Improve communication
Everyone comes into a relationship with a different upbringing, world view, strengths, and weaknesses. Don’t assume you know how your partner feels about a certain topic, ask them! Your relationship goals should also include continually developing your communication skills with each other — critical to a strong relationship. Seeking the support of a professional counselor or couple’s therapist can help you learn to understand each other better and improve your communication.
5. Create a judgement-free zone
No one likes to be criticized, especially when you are sharing something difficult with your partner. Creating a judgement-free zone will help make sure your partner feels comfortable being open and honest with you. If you feel agitated and are not sure you will be able to withhold judgement, find a way to take a time out and resume the difficult conversation when you feel calmer.
6. Emotional management
Your partner is not a mind reader. It’s up to each individual to express their needs clearly to the other person. For example, if your partner said something that upset you, instead of giving them the silent treatment, blowing up, or name-calling, simply state: “That hurt my feelings.” A helpful relationship goal is to focus on your own internal state and how what your partner did or said made you feel.
7. Be vulnerable
Being vulnerable can be scary at first, but feeling free to express yourself is the foundation of a happy and healthy relationship. All relationships are made up of good and bad days. How you show up for each other on the bad days will be telling of your long-term viability. It is essential that each person feels like they are loved unconditionally and doesn’t need to hide their feelings for any reason.
8. Make each other a priority
Especially as time goes on, it’s important to remember to make each other a priority. With our busy lives and packed schedules, it’s easy to put your relationship on the back burner. However, relationship goals should always include consistent love and attention. Putting in the effort is essential to a healthy long-term relationship.
9. Weather the storm together
Life can throw a curveball at any moment — a loved one dies, a child is sick, your partner is laid off, you get in an accident — and being in a relationship means you’re committing to weathering the storm together. It’s easy to be there for each other when life is going well. But the true test of a strong relationship is if you can be there for each other when life is difficult. If your partner is going through a hard time, focus on how you can best support them. If you are the one working though something, make sure you communicate your needs. As mentioned above, your partner isn’t a mind reader!
10. Mutual respect
You may not agree with everything your partner says or does but it’s important to treat them with respect. By saying something like “I don’t necessarily agree with you, but I respect your opinion,” you are signaling to your partner that your relationship is secure enough for each of you to have your own individual experiences through life. If you continually feel disrespected by your partner, it might time to either seek professional support or end the relationship.
Being in a relationship shouldn’t always feel like work, it should also feel fun! Making time to hang out with your partner, like you would your friend, will help keep your bond strong. Try taking a cooking class together, learning to salsa dance, or picking up a new TV show. Creating new memories together will breathe fresh life into your relationship.
Part of prioritizing your relationship — setting relationship goals — is prioritizing time for intimacy. If the hustle and bustle of life is getting in the way of your sex life, it may be time to re-think how you are spending your time and why being intimate with your partner is falling to the bottom of your to-do list. If the two of you have different needs and expectations around sex, seeking the help of a trained sex therapist could be beneficial.
It’s About Intimacy, Communication, Friendship, Respect, and Understanding
Being in a relationship is a two-way street. Both people need to be willing to put in the work for the relationship to be successful. Relationship goals can help you determine if the relationship is healthy, where you might want to improve your relationship, and if it’s time to get out of a bad relationship. Remember that some days will be better than others, but by creating relationship goals, you will undoubtedly be setting yourselves up for more good days than bad ahead.