Relationship Goals to Maintain Long-Lasting Affection

You’ve probably heard the term “relationship goals” being thrown about here and there.  Social media has definitely helped promote this to a new level.  Urban Dictionary defines the term as “A couple with such a perfect relationship that other people aspire to them, the “goal” being to have a relationship like the one that the couple has.   

But what exactly are relationship goals?  While showing affection by hugging, holding hands, kissing, or referring to each other as bae can be something that expresses loving feelings, relationship goals are not necessarily confined to public displays of sweet togetherness. 

Don’t get me wrong, the affection is wonderful and can help you feel connected to your partner.  But, these are the aftereffects of hard work from working the goals.  The real relationship goals help you receive and maintain those strong feelings of affection. 

Here are a few goals to explore to strengthen your relationship: 

Spend quality time together.  Couples are so busy nowadays.  With careers and raising children, it can be difficult to figure out when there is time to be alone together.  Digging deep for your creativity in planning for date night comes in handy here.  But the keyword to keep in mind is QUALITY.  It’s not about how much time is spent but instead how connected you feel to your partner in the amount of time you do get to share. 

Learn how to meet each other’s needs. Funny thing is, we naturally tend to give to our partner’s the way we like to receive. Unfortunately, most couples don’t always line up in this department. “If my partner cared, shouldn’t they just know what to do? This way of thinking will only set you up for disappointment. While some couples get lucky and match each other perfectly, the rest of us have to ask, inform, or share our preferences in order to learn the best ways to meet our partner’s needs. Try taking the Five Love Languages Quiz developed by Gary Chapman to learn yours! 

Create personal goals together.  What are some common goals the two of you share?  Maybe it’s learning a new language, taking a trip to a foreign country, or saving up to buy a home.  Or maybe you’re thinking about starting a family.  It’s good to have some common goals in which each of you plays a role in attaining the goal.  At the same time, it’s great to show support for each partner’s individual goals.  Our desires may not always match up, and that’s okay. One partner may really find it exhilarating to skydive while the other partner thinks “hell no!”  We can’t always join our partners in their journeys, but we can show support from a distance.  And for skydiving, that’s a really, really great distance!

Have fun together.  Work on finding ways to laugh more with each other.  Playfulness is the best tool to keep a relationship fresh and exciting.  Most couples begin with lots of fun and laughter.  However, over time, as they build a life together, things get more serious.  Try remembering how the relationship was early on.  Tap into those activities that brought the two of you joy and closeness.  And if some of those activities do not fit into your lifestyles anymore, find new ones!  Think… if you were planning to ask your partner on a first date, what would that look like?

Work through conflict with respect and kindness.  Conflict is natural and expected in a relationship.  “We never fight,” is bullshit.  Seriously, if you never argue, then there is not enough honesty going on in the relationship.  Getting into arguments with each other can be uncomfortable and distressing, however it’s more about how you choose to communicate with each other during the conflict that matters most.  Take turns in sharing and listening.  Active listening is way more important than talking.  This can help reduce and manage the conflict.

Goals for one couple may not be the same for another.   Each couple is unique and so it is wise to avoid using comparisons to assess one’s relationship.  A big problem that does exist is we get too wrapped up in what social media tells us relationships should look like that we lose the ability to perceive it realistically.  You know what you want from your relationship! So go out and get it!

More Couples Therapy for Your Buck!

February Special

Extended Couples Therapy Session

Valentine’s Day is almost here!  And guess what!  I’m offering a February special for all my couples - new and existing.  My couples have the opportunity of receiving an extended counseling session (1 hr. 20 min.) for the same price of a regular counseling session (50 min.). 

So, what does this do for you?  Well, some couples find that it takes a little bit of time to get to the nitty gritty of their issues.  Just as you seem to be getting somewhere, time is up! Then we have to pick up where we left off the next time around.  An extended session offers you the chance to arrive at the problem without feeling rushed.

Another convenience with longer counseling sessions is the chance to participate in couples’ activities.  A majority of session is typically talk therapy, however, activities and games during session can help couples alleviate tension, increase playfulness, and promote closeness. 

Remember ALL sessions booked as a couple pay only $75 instead of the extended therapy session rate of $120.  This is only good through the month of February. And, since these sessions take more time, appointments are limited. If you are interested in booking an extended couples’ session, please email or call to reserve your spot!

Time Outs: Not Just For Kids

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How do most arguments with your partner play out for you?  Do you tend to listen and share cooperatively?  Do you take your time when things get heated?  Do you break bread, shake hands at the end and go on happily with your day? 

If this is you then YAY!  But for some couples and some arguments this isn’t always the case. 

What I tend to see is that some conflict runs deeper and may need to be handled with more sensitivity and care than others.  Some partners have differing responses to conflict.  Maybe one partner shuts down and the other continues trying to get to the bottom of the problem.  While wanting to take care of issues as they appear is ideal, it is not always necessary or helpful. 

In many couples, there tends to be one partner, the Pursuer, who prefers to deal with problems promptly.  He or she will want to keep talking about the conflict until it is fully resolved.  However, the other person, the Distancer, might feel overwhelmed, become increasingly angry, or stops listening altogether.  This person just wants it to stop.  This is when it is helpful to take a time out. 

If we wait too long to take a time out we run the risk of saying something hurtful to our partner which only adds more work for us (you as a couple and me as a therapist) in the future.  When we are met with too much conflict, we lose the ability to think clearly and rationally.  By continuing to argue, we are unable to be fully heard and understood.  We also lessen the chance of coming to a healthy compromise. 

In some cases, the Pursuer is motivated to be persistent in seeking a solution in order to maintain balance in the relationship.  Sitting with negative feelings doesn’t feel good and it is human nature to find ways to relieve ourselves of the discomfort.  However, being too pushy to find all the right answers at one given moment might be too much pressure for the Distancer partner.  That’s not to say the issue must be avoided or forgotten. 

So, what do you do?  Take a time out.  Just like kids, adults need them too!  When you begin to find yourself bringing up old problems from the past or thinking hurtful comments in your head that you’re ready to unleash on your partner – Take a Time Out!!!  If you’re unable to think clearly and find yourself tuning out – Take a Time Out!!! 

Nevertheless, it is important that you communicate with each other how much of a break is appropriate.  This can mean 20 minutes (at least!), 2 hours, or the next day.  Whatever timeline you decide just make sure it’s mutually understood. And in the meantime, try to go about your normal routine or do something relaxing.  Continue to treat each other with kindness and respect.  Just because you have a disagreement does not mean it’s okay to be hurtful to one another.

By waiting, we allow ourselves to cool down, reflect on the problem, and sometimes we may even have a change of heart.  Not all problems need to be addressed quickly.  And that’s okay.