7 Goal Centered Tips to Improve Your Relationship
The helpful thing about using a goal-oriented approach to improving any relationship is that is measurable, clear, and time sensitive. Here are seven practical steps to work on any relationship and get the results you desire!
Tip 1. Identify the goal
“I want to improve my relationship.” Great! We often start with clear general wishes for change. What does “improving a relationship” mean? Less fighting? More time together? Define all the parts that make up the success of the goal. Both parties involved in the relationship can vocalize what a great relationship means to them. Smaller goals lead to the big wish-goal “Great Relationship”. "I want more time together to connect. I want coffee at 7am with you. I want 15 minutes after supper to talk about the day." What is one goal you want to try today? This week? Start small and focused.
Tip 2. Analyze the purpose of the goal
What makes this the right goal and why does it matter? When you can talk about why it matters to you to improve the relationship, you offer an extension of love and vulnerability. “The purpose of spending after dinner time with you is to connect without distraction. When we do this daily, it is easier for me to connect with you intimately. I long to feel close to you and when you listen to my day, I feel important to you. This makes me want to connect in other ways.” This is an important moment to celebrate! “Why does this matter to me?” is the heart of the goal and why it is worth the effort. Acknowledge and celebrate each of your desires as a win!
“The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when someone asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer.” — Henry David Thoreau
Tip 3. Check on the perspectives on the goal
Both parties have ideas about the goal. What does that sound like for each person? The key to unlocking the relationship’s improvement plan is hidden in this step. Listen very carefully for what the other says about how they receive love, support, and fun in your relationship. Using the previous example, what do both partners need to talk daily? Is there a preferred time? Is there a way they feel listened to? Do not try to fix, rather be genuinely interested in what the other has to say. Think about how the steps toward a better relationship can have laughter, ease, and delight. Don’t you want to have fun while working toward a better tomorrow?
Tip 4. Beware
What is likely to get in the way? What are the stumbling blocks? It is best to put it out there from the beginning. Be honest if what your partner asks for is something you are terrible at delivering. This is a great time to figure out compromises that work. Hold the attitude of making improvements. A common stumbling block is “shut down” when we do not feel heard or honored for what we need. “I hear you want undivided attention whenever we talk. That is difficult for me because there are times when I must respond to work when I am home. Can we have work free times at set times of the evening? I want to be there for you.” What trips you up at connection? What takes focus away from your relationship? How can you support your weak area and design for success? Have an action plan for stumbling blocks.
Tip 5. Create action steps to reach the goal
Micro actions go a long way. A kiss goodbye. A text at lunch. A thoughtful gesture once a week. Date night set on the calendar. These are micro actions that lead to micro healings.
Tip 6. Test the ecology within the relationship
What is already there? Identify what works. “I love it that you always back me up in our family. That makes me feel supported.” or “I appreciate how you care for me by making dinner." Hold what works up as template to move forward. Your relationship has had times of joy, ease, and fun. Work with what works already and celebrate the good. Honor what works. “I love it when you compliment a job that I do to support us. It makes my effort feel worth it!” Notice what is working and call it out in this step.
Tip 7. Gain Agreement
Once you have decided on a plan of action, agree to follow this plan. Follow up with the other and tell them what you are most proud of this week. What was valuable to you? Tell your partner how this made you feel. "I felt like a teenager getting a text from you at lunch telling me you were thinking of me. That felt good." or "I noticed you put effort into watching how you spoke to me. I felt respected and valued when you measured your words to be supportive and kind."
Try these tips with your partner and see how they can help improve your relationship with each other.
Next week: How we hurt and heal in layers…healing ideas and tips in any relationship!