It’s quite normal to hear people talk about their wedding as being the happiest day of their lives but what if it was just the start of more perfect days that continued to become better and better?
I’m known as The Goals Guy®, and although I don’t talk about it very often, one of my goals is to remain happily married to my wife, Bonnie, for the rest of my life.
Financial goals or career or business goals can only take you so far when it comes to happiness; what if you could continuously breathe life and love into your romantic relationships so that they no longer stagnate or turn sour?
I recently chatted with Dr Sara Roth, the marriage planner, who has a PhD in marriage, family therapy and counselling. She’s also clocked up 24 years with her husband. She’s committed to helping people create intentional relationships so that they can grow together rather than drift apart.
You can listen to our full conversation on the Goals Do Come True podcast by clicking here. In this blog I’m going to share three ways (from Sara) that you can strengthen your relationship with your significant other whether you’re just about to tie the knot (this is where Sara’s passion lies), or are already a married couple.
1. Start with the end in mind.
Sara: “You need to have a shared goal of what your vision is as a couple. If you don’t think it through or share it, all you’re left with are expectations which nearly always result in someone being disappointed. If you come into a relationship with random expectations from random places (such as Hollywood romance), and you don’t talk about your own vision then you’ll likely feel let down.
I talk to my clients about their definition of love; some people will say passion and others might suggest safety. Everyone has their own version of what a successful, happy marriage looks like.
It’s not uncommon for a husband or wife to say that they had no idea their spouse didn’t ever want to start a family – that’s quite a big issue to go unnoticed. To create a happy foundation you need to be clear on what you want, what your partner wants, and make sure you are both clear on the joint vision.”
2. Replace the word “but” with the word “and” during conversation.
Sara: “When we use the word ‘but’, we risk negating part of what our partner is saying to us. For example, if I was validating my partner’s feelings by saying ‘I understand that you’re upset about this, but…’, what I’ve actually said is what I’m about to say is more important than what they originally said.
When you replace the word ‘but’ with the word ‘and’, you’re including and honouring both sets of feelings and experiences. If both of you want to be heard and understood you also need to make that space available to your partner.
Occasionally a couple will attend their first session and expect me to tell them who is right and who is wrong when it comes to one particular issue; if your goal is to be proved right, everyone loses. If you are in conflict and you want to win then you both lose, and your marriage will likely lose too.”
I often suggest to my coaching clients that they replace the word “but” with the word “and”. It sounds simple, yet it’s also incredibly powerful (when I remember to do it!).
Start to bring that change into your conversation now and notice the results. When we take the “objection” out of what we’re saying the conversation can flow far more naturally.
3. Fulfil your role in the relationship and recognise that there is always room for growth.
Sara: “Relationships are about reciprocity. Even if you’re stuck in what feels like a negative cycle, there is always something that you can do to change it so that you get back into positive momentum. We all get off track from time to time so it’s good to stop and reset.
What I teach about relationships comes down to being intentional. Life and relationships are a constant re-evaluation. If you start going in one direction and realise it’s not where you want to go then recalculate your vision and create space for you each to evolve as individuals. Create an environment where you can be together in the safety of a healthy relationship – balance each other out and support each other.
If you don’t take the time to regroup you risk each evolving on your own path without sharing or communicating then, over time, you might end up on completely different paths.”
As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, I’ve stopped working on Fridays so that Bonnie and I can plan and enjoy more time together. It’s also useful for me to check that my vision for more time on my Harley Davidson fits in with her vision of what our weekends look like. That said, I know for a fact that switching the word “but” to “and” is a game changer.
Which of the three nuggets is your favourite? Do you think your relationship would benefit the most from finding or reiterating your shared vision, eliminating the word “but”? Or from recognising that you can take 100 per cent responsibility for your part in the relationship and create space for growth as a couple?
I’d love to know, and if you’d like to deepen your relationship with yourself and pursue your personal or professional goals then why not click here to book a complimentary discovery call with me?