Love is romantic, warm, and fun. But one thing we don’t typically associate with romantic relationships is accomplishment.

There’s something about combining goals, progress, and achievement with relationships that makes some people feel icky; like we’ve violated some sacred law to keep love pure.

But that’s the same voice that tries to convince you that relationships should be like some perfect early afternoon bike ride across the beach, where the sea is glittering and the sun is still pale but brilliant.

The truth is, a real, worthwhile relationship is more like speeding down the highway with a beat up old Camaro that, sometimes, you just can’t believe you’ve been able to keep on the road.

It takes work to build a healthy relationship, but the more work you do the better and stronger the relationship gets.

That’s where relationship goals can help.

A relationship succeeds when obstacles are met with communication and resolution. A relationship flourishes when we take the beloved as our teacher. Shared goals create a transformative, interwoven path.

– Alex Grey

Why Setting Relationship Goals Can Be a Good Thing

Relationship goals are shared goals which two partners share to improve some aspect of the relationship.

Some examples include:

  1. Improving communication so each person always feels like they’re being heard and loved.
  2. Supporting one another more unconditionally
  3. Not arguing about X anymore (fill the blank with whatever stupid topic always seems to trigger a heated argument)
  4. Building better relationships with one another’s parents
  5. Becoming fitter or healthier together

I touched on the power of relationship goals a moment ago and why setting them can be a good thing. However, there’s another reason: setting relationship goals helps you focus on the progress of your relationship as opposed to the end goal.

Many couples fall apart after they get married because one or both persons had deeply embedded and unrealistic assumptions about what happens after you wed. They believed that marriage was some extraordinary end goal that would transform everything and make them perfectly happy.

However, the truth is that relationships are just like life: they take a consistent, long-term effort to keep strong and healthy.

Relationship goals allow you to not only make constant improvement a part of your relationship, they turn that focus from the end result to progress itself. That’s valuable because it’s in the feeling of progress that we find happiness. How happy we are at any given moment is directly proportionate to how much progress we believe we’re making at that moment as a whole.

If we feel like our personal or professional life is really moving, we’re almost always happy. And so that, as opposed to the temporary pleasure we get from achieving or acquiring something, is our best source of happiness.

How to support one another and achieve your relationship goals

If you’re feeling like giving relationship goals a try, it can help to know how best to support one another while you’re both working to accomplish that goal, even if it’s not the kind of goal that ever has an end and more of a consistent point of improvement.

Here are a few tips for helping you support one another and ensuring your relationship goals are successful:

  • Make sure you’re in alignment: You both should know each other’s personal goals in addition to your new relationship goals and craft your relationship goals with those personal goals in mind.
  • Set up a system of accountability: You need to stay accountable to yourselves and each other, otherwise there’s no way you’ll accomplish your goal. It needs to stay top-of-mind and you should regularly be evaluating your performance and progress and making necessary adjustments.
  • Make sure the goals make you feel better about yourself and happier with your relationship to each other: If they don’t make you happier, what’s the point?
  • Try to make each goal attainable and quantifiable: Your goals should not just be quantifiable, or in other words, you should be able to tell clearly when you’ve accomplished the goal or not, but they should be attainable. You want to stretch yourself but not so much that you discourage yourself to ever get up and take action.
  • Celebrate accomplishments: If you’ve made a big accomplishment or even just noticed some improvement, celebrate it to encourage both of you to continue working hard.

Relationships take hard work. But if you love your partner and want to spend your life with them, you need to be willing to do the work necessary to make the relationship strong and healthy and keep it that way always. And relationship goals are one tool to help you do that.