I recommend working on your relationship in a neutral setting
I was catching up with girlfriends one day and we went around sharing our latest news. One friend (a mother of 3) talked about how she and her husband went away for the weekend. Just the two of them.
"Ohhh how fun! What did you do?"
I expected to hear about the fun kid-free adventures they had but the main takeaway was...
"We went over our goals."
My friend explained that she and her husband set up relationship goals. And that they use their weekends away to go over them. At first I was confused but as she explained more I realized how amazing it is. Brilliant, in fact!
We spend so much effort managing our professional goals; we track them and we're measured by them. Sure, we're rewarded with promotions and salary increases but what about our relationships? Don't we spend more time with our partner and shouldn't we devote more time to improving our partnership? After all, most of us go in wanting it to last a lifetime. Why don't I put more thought into what I want to get out of my relationship than I do my job?
That's it. We're gonna start.
I told my husband that I wanted to set up our own goals and to my relief and delight, he was on board! We spent maybe 20 minutes coming up with our goals and now we try to track them regularly. I even set up a Google doc for them. What can I say? We're both Product Managers. :o)
We set weekly, monthly, and quarterly goals and we made sure they're achievable AND fun. Some goals were more my idea and some were more his but we both agreed to them.
And here they are:
|Check in on progress|
|TV, device, and computer-free night|
|Pass for an activity together|
- use it or lose it every week
- use a pass whenever you want your partner to do something that he/she may not be as excited to do
- i.e., I would use it to have him come to a Broadway show with me
|Try a new restaurant|
|Go lindy or blues dancing|
|Find something that makes us both laugh|
- this is a lot more challenging than it sounds because we each have a very different our sense of humor
|Story-time: read passages from articles or books that you found impactful|
|Do something we haven't done in a long time|
It's only been a few months since we started our goals and I'm loving it! We've been pretty good about achieving most of them although we (rather, I) could do better with device-free night... My favorite experience so far is sometimes when we're cooking dinner I'll tell him I have something for story time or we'll get ready for bed early so he could share his story time with me. It's just something fun we look forward to and we get to learn something that's important to the other person.
My other favorite part of this experience is sharing it with friends. I've gotten a lot of questions but it must resonate because a few friends have decided to set goals with their significant others too!
My husband and I have grown as a team as a result of these goals and we feel like we have many things to look forward to. We've both noticed that we're more present and we're thinking of new goals to add.
It's not such a bad thing, treating your relationship like work... And with any good project you should define your success metrics up front and see if the work you've put in results in achieving those metrics. For me, my metrics are being more engaged, feeling happier, laughing more, and experiencing a deeper understanding of my husband. So far everything is tracking well.
If you're thinking about doing this yourself, please feel free to share your goals and your experience when you brought this up with your partner - I'd love to hear about it!
If I may offer some advice... Make sure you're both on board with the idea. Your goals are just that. Yours. Ours may be different from yours and that's okay. Each couple decides what's important to them and what success looks like. Yours could be silly, serious, financially-oriented, emotional, health-focused, the list goes on. You set them.
Happy goal-setting, everyone!