Whether you’re struggling or not, if you’re in a relationship, one of the best things you can do to have better relationship is to take the time to develop goals. No matter where you are on your relationship journey, this is not as good as it gets. Growing your relationship not only feels good, but also helps you develop a strong foundation for everything else in your life.
One of the first things I do with my clients in couples counseling is to establish goals. That sounds simple enough, but people often struggle to look at themselves and how they might be able to change. It’s easy to point out all the things that your partner’s doing wrong.
Growth, REAL GROWTH, and a better relationship comes from each person looking at themselves and how they can better meet their partner where they are, while also taking responsibility for getting their own needs met.
For the next 12 weeks, make it your goal to use these prompts to have a better relationship.
Identify and articulate your needs and wants. These can be things that you’re already getting or things you can only hope for. Make your list blame-free by starting your sentences with the word “I”. Keep the sentences positive by stating what you want versus what you don’t want. Share this list with your partner.
Make a list of all the things that trigger or upset you. If you’re struggling with this, carry a piece of paper around for a week and write about the moments that you complain about or notice when you roll your eyes. Next to each trigger, identify how you typically respond to these triggers. Do you get defensive? Do you shut down? Do you start justifying your own snarkiness? Whatever it is, just be aware.
Do this same thing, but for your partner. What are your partner’s triggers? What makes them tick? What do you do or say that really pisses them off? And how do they react to those triggers? Write it down.
Share your triggers and talk about where these triggers come from? Identify childhood, or other, wounds and discuss how these wounds impact your relationship.
Identify habits, coping skills and defense mechanisms that you’ve developed over the years that are no longer helpful. How do you react when you’re upset? Are these things helping you and your relationship, or are they hurting you?
Talk about the limits in your arguments. Just because you might be upset with each other, doesn’t mean anything goes. What’s off-limits in an argument? Let your partner know what your limits are.
Have a discussion about ways that you can show more acceptance, validation, support and understanding for each other.
Talk about the difference between REACTING and RESPONDING. What causes reactivity and defensiveness and how can you help keep each other in a responsive place.
Identify your fears. These can be relationship fears and personal fears. Make sure to sprinkle in at least 3 of each. Talk about what you need to feel safe.
Ask your partner what you can do to be a better listener. Remember, the way you know how to listen might feel good for you, but that doesn’t mean your partner appreciates it. Since the act of listening is for your partner, it’s important that you’re doing it in a way that feels helpful for them.
Watch this video together, https://youtu.be/1Evwgu369Jw and talk about the ways you show your partner empathy. Let your partner know where in your life you might need more empathy. If, by having this conversation, you’ve realized that you haven’t been showing your partner much empathy, take accountability for that.
Make a bucket list together. This list should be something that excites both of you, not just one of you. Click here for instructions on how to create a Couple’s Bucket List. If done right, these prompts can be incredibly eye-opening and empowering and can help you have a better relationship for years to come. For the best results, make sure to listen to your partner with curiosity.
Remember, growing a better relationship doesn’t happen overnight. This is a great first step to help bring you and your partner closer together.