Posted by: Debbie Loyd | October 21, 2011

The Importance of Couples goals

THE IMPORTANCE OF COUPLES GOALS

Just as vision statements give structure and make businesses more productive, so marriage goals can help couples have the relationship they really want. Not having goals is like walking around in the dark. Without goals, people are busy responding to what happens to them instead of setting their own direction. Goals accomplish so many great things!

Just as vision statements give structure and make businesses more productive, so marriage goals can help couples have the relationship they really want. Not having goals is like walking around in the dark. Without goals, people are busy responding to what happens to them instead of setting their own direction. Goals accomplish so many great things!

Couples Goals:

  • Bring you closer together.
  • Get you sharing about what is really important.
  • Help you work together as a team.
  • Give you a sense of purpose.
  • Helps you understand the values underneath your differences.
  • Make differences easier to negotiate.
  • Focus you away from negative to positive.

Couples therapists Ellyn Bader, Ph.D. and Peter Pearson, Ph.D.* divide couple goals into three categories which I think are very helpful:

  • Doing – Behaviors such as participating in a sport or activity or taking a vacation.
  • Having/Getting – What you would like to have or get, such as a house or a successful career.
  • Being – What kind of relationship you would like. Examples are: “I want to be a better listener” or “I want our relationship to be a very respectful marriage” or “I want our relationship to be full of laughter and humor.” These are not the goals we typically think of. They are about ideals. They are more than just ego-gratifying and often require insight and growth and are well worth the effort.

Bader and Pearson often use these three types of goals to help couples in conflict. They ask a couple to describe what they would like to have or get . They then ask them what they would have to be in order to reach those goals (e.g. more organized or more affectionate). Finally, Bader and Pearson ask the couple to define what they would do (specific behaviors). This does a number of things. It gets partners away from blame and thinking about what they each could do. It also is a great way to get to underlying issues in a conflict, and it turns the focus from the negative to the positive.

*Bader and Pearson are doing some fine work and have lots of resources to offer. I have been to their workshop and have found their ideas have structured much of my work with couples. I encourage you to visit their website: couplesinstitute.com.
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