Goal setting in relationships sounds too serious and probably boring to most people. Why can’t we just go with the flow? Or let things be? Our love should be enough to sustain our relationship, right? No. This is not the way to go. For a relationship to be successful and fulfilling, those involved must set clear goals.
After the initial excitement of a new relationship dies down, a couple should consider setting goals to govern their relationship. A relationship with no goals may not progress with time and will also not be a satisfying one. It may also end up in conflict, as the couple will not be in agreement about where the relationship is headed and what they expect of each other.
Goals should be agreed upon at the start of the relationship, assuming that the couple is both after a long-term relationship. If possible, the couple should write them down and keep them in a safe place so they may refer to them at a later day. There are two categories of relationship goals, individual goals, which each partner makes on their own and joint goals, which the partners agree on and make together.
Individual goals may be anything, from one partner deciding to be more attentive to the other or even deciding to show more support for the other’s work. A couple may choose to share these with each other for accountability purposes. These are important because the partners need to ensure that they are both growing and also their individuality is not lost in the relationship.
The joint or shared goals should focus on key areas of the relationship. Here are a few common areas that you can focus your goal setting on.
Mutual support goals. This particular goal covers a number of areas that have to do with the partners’ support of each other. While making such goals, consider factors like how you will help each other grow in the relationship, how you can include others like friends or family in the relationship without losing support for one another, how interdependent you will be on each other, and what measures you intend to take should your relationship decline, among others.
Problem-solving goals. It’s not always smooth sailing in relationships and you have to discuss how you will solve conflicts when they arise. Different people have different ways of solving problems. A few factors to consider for this particular goal include how you will approach and handle problems in your relationships; handle irritation with one another because this will come up time and again; fight your battles; bring your conflicts to a healthy resolution; and ensure you still accommodate each other after a conflict. In addition, you will need to consider at what point you ought to seek for help should your conflicts get out of hand?
Structural goals. These goals somewhat form the backbone of the relationship. While making these goals, consider how you and your partner are going to make time to do all the things you want to do, how you’re going to arrange your schedules so you can each pursue your distinct interests and friends, setting up times in which you can nourish one another and keep your relationship on track, scheduling fun time into your time together, and also the place religion, hobbies, sports and outside interests will have in your relationship.
Financial goals. Here, you and your partner have to consider how you will support each other’s career, how to handle your finances, what you will consider in your monthly or weekly budgets, who will pay the bills, when and how to spend on luxuries, and what kind of plan you have in terms of insurance, savings, investments, retirement, medical cover and financial security, among other financial issues.
Goals for a relationship are not different from other types of goals. They should also follow the SMART guide, meaning they should be Specific, Measurable, Relevant, Attainable, and Time-bound. It’s necessary to note that goals change with time, depending on the stage the relationship is in. For instance, the goals you have when dating will not be the same ones you will have if you decide to tie the knot. It’s also important for you and your partner to be clear on who does what regarding the goals to avoid confusion.
Have fun while setting these goals. Do not let it be a stuffy affair. At the end of the day, these goals are meant to connect you to each other as you dream of your future together. They will also help you recognise where your dreams are not in alignment as a couple and what to do about it, in addition to ensuring the general success of your relationship.
Published in April 2012