Thursday, March 6, 2014

Relationship Goals

When most people think of goals, they are thinking of a specific outcome that they have to push themselves to achieve by a specific date and time. This is very effective for many, if not most people. Most people will get what they set out to achieve. If they can measure it, they can make it happen. Depending on how grateful and connected they are able to feel, they may feel some fulfilment as well as satisfaction when the goal is met.
When it comes to relationships however, there is problem. How can you tell if you've reached a goal in a relationship? There are goals such as: "I'd like to be married" or "I'd like to meet someone wonderful" that are very tangible. You could even put a date on it, "I'd like to meet someone wonderful by March 13th, 2014". 
However, getting married or meeting someone wonderful are not really relationship goals in my opinion because they don't really have much to do with actual relating. A relationship goal is one that is made to improve the way that you and another relate with each other. 
One example of a relationship goal is: "I'd like to have a happy, close and loving relationship with (fill in the blank)".  This is a worthy goal, and it was the exact wording of my personal goal, except of course the blank was full. 
How does one know when one has a happy, close and loving relationship? There is not a way to measure this. When I examined why I never felt like I was making progress toward this goal, I realized that the reason is because there is no way to tell if I am making progress.  
My approach in goal setting for relationships specifically, is very different than setting goals in other areas of life. I suppose that what I am calling a goal you could more of an intention. The following four step process may help you to develop some relationship intentions?
          
         1.If you don't know what you want in your relationship, it can help to look at what you don't want first. In this example, we'll say that your relationship is very functional and business-like.You don't like the coldness of it. It's become very routine and the two of you are more like roomates.
         2. Use the contrast of this to figure out what it is that you do want. If your relationship is distant, cold, boring and seems like it only exists for the purpose of maintaining a household, then it's likely that you want the opposite of these (or something close to the opposite). You want closeness, warmth, fun and excitement. You want to enjoy a home and family together.
         3. Once you've figured out what it is that you want, it's time to dig deeper. What do you think that this thing that you think you want help you to feel? You want closeness because you want to feel connection. You want warmth because you want to feel love. You want fun and excitement because you want to feel joy. These are your "feeling intentions", connection, love and joy. 
         4. Ask yourself, "How can I feel connection, love and/or joy right now in this relationship?" or even just, "How can I feel connection, love and/or joy right now?" The answer will always come, you need only listen. It may bean action that you need to take, like touching that person or surprising them by doing something completely unexpected. 

Emphasize the I in: "How can I...?" Take complete responsibility for the feelings in your relationship. You can say to yourself, "I intend to be the presense of love in this relationship right now". Adding right now is important because it's the only time you can have any effect on anything. Putting anything off until "another time" doesn't serve you and it will always be put off.
Also know that your thoughts, intentions and behaviors enormously effect the relationship. Instead of saying to yourself or others that you aren't happy because your partner does or doesn't do something, know that you won't feel happy (or loved, or passion, or joy, or closeness etc) unless you bring it to the relationship.

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