New Year's is coming, which means New Year's Resolutions are coming too. While they have a tendency to be forgotten as soon as they're made, don't feel bad— most of mine don't either. So instead of thinking in terms of resolutions, it's a great time to set goals for 2017. Because goals exist until you achieve them, rather than disappearing as spring hits. And it's not just for yourself — it's a great time to set some real goals for your relationship — and not the kind of #relationshipgoals you see on Instagram.
"Some of the #relationshipgoals floating around the web are not the stuff of real happy, long-lasting relationships," marriage and family therapist Esther Boykin tells Bustle. "Kissing on a cliff, proposals that include Broadway-sized productions and his-and-hers Bugattis are not the stuff of true love. They’re props and fantasies — albeit nice fantasies that people occasionally live out."
So instead of focusing on fantasies, focus on something realistic for your relationship. Self-improvement is a great tool, both as individuals and for your relationship. It keeps you from getting complacent or from not facing issues head on. Plus, it can make you more productive. Setting goals for yourself and your relationship will set you up to accomplish way more — and it holds you accountable — all while keeping your relationship strong.
Here are seven realistic goals to consider, because doing something new can totally transform your relationship.
1. To Be Actually Happy Together
Make sure you're happy together, rather than just being together. "The number-one relationship goal should be for happiness with your partner," online dating expert Anita Covic tells Bustle. "A recent international online dating survey notes that companionship (67 percent), true love (60 percent), and a life partner (59 percent) are the top things sought by online daters. Each partner should recognize what makes him or her happy and strive to find that element with the other as well as alone." Be self-reflective every day and focus on how to make it a happy relationship.
2. To Do Something New Once A Month
3. To Keep Remembering What You Love About One Another
No matter how annoyed or angry you can be with your partner — and that's fair, nobody's perfect— you need to able to focus on the positive. "Researchers found that the only common trait amongst couple in long-term happy relationships was the ability to maintain positive illusions of the other," Dawn Maslar, aka “the Love Biologist,” tells Bustle. "Over time, we can focus on the negative traits instead of the good." So remind yourself why your partner, and remind yourself often.
4. To Have Regular Date Nights
5. To Find A Way To Give Back
It's too easy to get introspective as a couple. You're so focused on each yourselves and each other that you can forget the world outside. Make sure you're doing something to give back together. Find a cause you both care about to donate too or volunteer opportunities to take part in and make it a goal to help others.
6. To Show Your Appreciation For Each Other Every. Damn. Day.
7. Support Each Other's Separate Goals
Supporting to each other is so vital to a relationship's happiness. Whether it's your partner's career change or you taking grad school classes at night, make sure you're each setting individual goals and encouraging each other to reach them, rather than doing everything as a pair.
It'll make you stronger as a couple — and isn't that the best kind of relationship goal of all?
Want to have an awesome 2017? Then check out the "You IRL" stream in the Bustle App for tips on how to have the most empowering year yet.