Creating relationship goals together is a great way to connect and strengthen your bond with your partner. Doing so can take time, but it’s an important component of fostering a loving and healthy relationship.

Having open and honest discussions about what you both need individually and as a couple can help you both ensure that you are the right fit for each other and continue to strive towards a healthy relationship.

Boosting your relationship’s health is a never-ending process that requires effort throughout the duration of your relationship, but it is so worth it to prioritize each other and the happiness that you share.

Open Communication

Having open communication can create a great foundation for a strong relationship. Open communication can benefit all types of relationships from just dating to fully committed to each other for years. To work towards open communication:

  • Identify your own needs
  • Notice if you feel anything blocking you from opening up
  • Begin by sharing something that feels safe and work towards opening up more
  • Encourage your partner to continue sharing by listening without judgment and thanking them for sharing something that may have been difficult

Honesty

Being honest with each other is something that all relationships could use. Doing so creates trust which can feed into better communication. Being honest means sharing your true selves with each other and expressing your needs to one another. This can help you avoid mind reading sparked arguments (when you assume you know what your partner is thinking and react prematurely), which many couples experience. To be honest with each other:

  • Express when you feel hurt by something
  • Share insights into your own behavior
  • Be honest about why you took a certain action
  • Share what your partner can do to satisfy your needs and ask about theirs as well
  • Express what your future goals are and continue to check in with each other to ensure that they align well

Emotional Vulnerability

Being emotionally vulnerable is one of the most difficult things to do. This can be challenging for those who grew up in homes where emotional honesty and safety weren’t taught or valued. Being able to be emotionally vulnerable with your partner means letting them see your true self, flaws and all, and can feel very intimidating. To begin to strengthen your emotional vulnerability as a couple:

  • Discuss what it’s like for each of you to share vulnerable information with each other
  • Share how you’d like your partner to respond (just listen, validate, help with solutions, etc.)
  • Take turns sharing something that feels a little emotionally vulnerable to start off with and process with each other how you felt afterwards and what your partner’s reaction felt like to you
  • Thank each other afterwards for taking this risk together

With time, being emotionally vulnerable with each other will feel like second nature. Note that with healthy partners, you will never be shamed or discouraged from opening up and being vulnerable. They also will not use this information to exploit you emotionally.

Physical and Emotional Safety

Feeling physically and emotionally safe with your partner makes for a strong and loving relationship. In order to establish physical and emotional safety, it’s important to set boundaries with each other. This means you should discuss:

  • What privacy looks like to each of you
  • What physical safety looks like and what a violation of that boundary means to each of you
  • What emotional safety looks like and what a violation of that boundary means to each of you
  • How you will notify each other when you aren’t feeling physically or emotionally safe

Common Goals

Sharing common goals can help you feel super connected to each other. This doesn’t mean that you need to meld your individual goals with one another, but sharing a few couple-related goals can make you feel like you are both on the same page. To do so:

  • Take some individual time to write down or think about the goals you want for your relationship
  • Set up a time with your partner to discuss your goals
  • Find ways to work towards these goals together
  • Jot down how you will be working towards your goals as a team and follow through

Cultivating Respect

Respect looks different to everyone. Having a respectful relationship is a key component to a healthy partnership. To better understand your partner’s take on respect:

  • Discuss what respect means to each of you
  • Discuss a time where you felt disrespected and why (not by your partner)
  • Discuss what each of you needs to feel respected

Honoring Each Other’s Independence

Part of being in a healthy relationship is understanding that you each deserve to have your own interests outside of the relationship. Each partner will have different needs when it comes to their own independence. To better understand what you partner needs:

  • Discuss how much time on average you’d like for yourself
  • Share what your passions are
  • Include each other if you’d like with certain activities
  • Know that how much independence you need may ebb and flow so continue to update each other
  • Avoid discouraging your partner or making your partner feel bad about having “me time”

Encouraging Self-Care

In loving relationships both partners lift each other up and support each other. Honoring each other’s individual self-care needs is one of the best gifts you can give to each other. Healthy individual partners make for healthier relationships. This means that:

  • If you or your partner need to have alone time, it’s important to respect that
  • Encourage your partner to take care of themselves if they feel bad about not spending time with you
  • Practice your own self-care

Honor Your Commitment

Being together for however long is something worth acknowledging. Take time to honor your commitment to each other by celebrating small milestones with one another. This can mean:

  • Going out for a special meal
  • Throwing a party
  • Having a special day with each other that marks your time as a couple
  • Giving each other cards or gifts to cherish your anniversary

Practice Active Listening

Active listening is an important skill to have in a relationship no matter how long you’ve been together. Active listening can help you both better understand each other and avoid miscommunications. To engage in active listening:

  • Paraphrase what your partner has said
  • Ask if you’ve got it correct before responding to their statement
  • Ask questions to clarify statements
  • Wait until you fully understand before responding
  • Your partner should do the same for you when you respond

Working Through Arguments in a Healthy Way

Arguments and tiffs are a completely normal part of any healthy relationship. Working through them in a kind and considerate way can strengthen the bond you have with each other. To create a safe space to process arguments or disagreements, be sure to:

  • Use “I” statements and focus on how a behavior made you feel
  • Avoid blaming statements
  • Continue to reiterate that you are on the same side and want to solve this as a team
  • Come up with solutions together
  • Take breaks when one or both of you feels too overwhelmed
  • Come up with a reconnecting ritual post-tiff

Surprise Each Other

Surprises now and again can be a really thoughtful and unexpected act to do for each other. Every once in a while, plan a sweet surprise for each other that shows how much you care. This doesn’t have to big a huge, grand gesture, just something that tells your partner that you know what they like and you’re paying attention to their needs. You can:

  • Surprise them with a fun dinner
  • Take them out to lunch on a work day
  • Send a small gift to their home (if you don’t live together) or office if appropriate
  • Plan a fun day with them on the weekend
  • Hide a love note for them to find
  • Bake their favorite dessert

Stay on the Same Team

Throughout the ups and downs of relationships, there can be some rough periods where you feel pitted against each other. This can happen for couples who have only been dating for a few weeks to those that have been together for years; it doesn’t matter what relationship stage you are in. To re-align with each other:

  • Find ways to reconnect
  • Take the time to understand each other’s needs
  • Use “we” and “us” when working through issues
  • Emphasize your love for each other
  • Come up with a weekly or daily ritual that allows you both to feel connected and heard by each other

Do Thoughtful Acts

Doing thoughtful, small acts for each other can feel like a huge act of love to your partner. Think about what types of acts or behaviors they tend to value. Examples include helping around the house, running errands for them, planning a date night, buying gifts, giving them a massage, or writing little love notes to each other. To figure out what types of things your partner likes:

  • Speak with each other about small things that you both could do to make each other smile throughout the day
  • Be sure to tell each other how often you’d ideally like this
  • Be sure to continue encouraging each other and remember that this is a process

Romantic movies often portray that one or both partners just simply know what makes the other person happy. This is not true and sets up inappropriate expectations. By being honest with each other, you and your partner can meet each other’s needs without having to guess or pretend.

Nurture Intimacy

Intimacy is a concept that will vary from couple to couple. Some couples may feel comfortable sharing everything and doing anything in front of each other, while others may want to maintain some privacy. Discussing your unique intimacy goals is a great way to get on the same page. Intimacy topics up for discussion include:

  • Sexual preferences and fantasies
  • Whether you’re comfortable going to the bathroom and showering in front of each other
  • Discussing fears and past discretions

Creating Your Goals Together

Speaking with your partner about goals that you both would like to work towards is a great way to prioritize your relationship. Keep in mind that strengthening your relationship is a continual process that will help you maintain a loving connection with each other.