6 Ideas For Healthy Goals To Strengthen Your Marriage In 2021
This article is about two of my favorite things: setting and accomplishing goals and building healthy relationships. I spend a lot of time thinking about both topics and looking for unique and helpful ways that they might overlap and be useful for you and your significant others.
I want to break down the title of this article before jumping into the practicalities because there are a few things to point out. First, these are ideas, not laws. As such, I hope you use these ideas as reference points and not as an instruction manual for success. This leads to point two. These ideas are about healthy goals, not productive ones. If you wanted to read about how to “succeed in all areas of your marriage,” I’m sorry to say that this isn’t that article.
This is much more focused on small, hopefully, non-taxing and stress-free ways that can boost your overall health (mental, physical, emotional, spiritual) while adding positive value to your relationship. Which is the last point of clarity. I used the word “marriage” in the title because that's the stage of life I am in and that’s how I am practically seeing these ideas play out in my life. My wife and I, having been married for 5 years, are consistently looking for healthy ways we can grow closer and increase our intimacy year-over-year.
However, I want to encourage you to not be hindered or deterred from continuing if you aren’t married. These ideas for healthy goals can be adopted and built upon for any level of a romantic relationship. I firmly believe that these ideas can be implemented by anyone at any point, which is one of the reasons why they make for healthy goals.
I know 2020 has been a hard year for many relationships. Maybe without even really knowing it, we’ve built up 2021 in our minds as the bounce-back year. The year of recovery. The year of new beginnings. My challenge to you is to take a step back as you approach the new year and think less about massive, life-shaping overhauls, but to think more in the day-to-day, the small but beautiful ways that we can grow and learn to love our partners more. Here are 6 of the ideas that my wife and I are planning to consider and hopefully pursue throughout 2021.
1. Go for more walks
This was my favorite take away from 2020 and will be at the top of my list for my wife and me to grow into throughout 2021. As I mentioned at the top, I love goal-setting and building healthy relationships (sometimes to my wife’s dismay), but for us, I’d love to try to go for one walk every week together. Here’s why I’m so big on walks.
Walks provide exercise and help get your blood moving (which we could all use a little more of coming off a sedimentary year). Walks give you the chance to talk about real and in-depth things. Because you’re semi-distracted by what's around you, I’ve found that walks are a great vehicle for catching up and sharing vulnerable feelings and thoughts.
Because you’re not facing each other directly, but are walking side-by-side, a good walk gives you the chance to listen and be heard without having to sit down and make a big ordeal out of a “serious conversation.”
And they are just fun and are a great way to explore more of your local neighborhood. For a bonus, leave your phone at home and bring a drink in a container or mug. I think you’ll be surprised by how much you love it.
2. Eat fewer meals on the couch
Okay, confession time. My wife and I often eat our dinner while sitting on the couch. We have a lovely, nice wooden kitchen table that sits on a beautiful rug with fun lights strung up around the dining room. And yet, most days, we opt for the couch. I’m willing to bet a lot of you are the same way.
Couch meals are great for being comfy and cozy. They are nice when you just want to have some fun and turn on a quick show or movie. But too many couch meals can start to diminish your opportunity to share a good meal with your significant other. If you’re looking for more connection time with your partner, consider eating fewer couch meals and start doing dinners at your table again. Once again, consider leaving your phone in another room or turning it off for extra intimacy.
3. Travel to one National Park
I know what you might be thinking: seriously? That’s so granola. But check it out, this idea is actually super practical for three reasons. First, you get to go on an adventure with your spouse that hopefully isn’t super expensive. Second, it’s something you can still do during quarantine / COVID because it’s outside and not that crowded. And third, being outside is scientifically proven to lower your blood pressure, improve your mood, and sharpen your focus and mental acuity.
Sounds like a home run to me.
4. Take more videos
Maybe you’re the video king or queen, and if so, you can skip this idea. But unfortunately for my wife and I, we fall on the spectrum of people who are always saying, “Shoot, we didn’t take a picture.” It’s a problem and I bet some of you experience that as well.
So, in an effort to get better that, I want to try to record more videos of the two of us just doing everything things. They don’t have to be professional quality or anything. They just need to be real and fun. Those videos will be priceless years later looking back.
5. Give more small gifts to friends
Being generous to others can infuse joy, positivity, and hope into your relationship. It’s so easy to get caught up in the consumeristic mentality and to be fixated on what you can get and what you have earned. If you let it, that “me, me, me” mindset will begin to sneak into your relationship as well.
You can counter that mentality, however, by being intentionally generous. One easy way to do that is by occasionally getting small gifts for friends. My wife and I get gifts for our close friends every year and since starting that tradition, it’s become one of our favorite things to do together because it’s given us a window to purposefully put other people first.
6. Pray more together
I’m not sure if you’re religious or practicing, but for my wife and I, we’ve found that being intentional about praying together has really strengthened our spiritual health and has impacted a lot of how we process our emotions with one another.
Prayer can be an excellent avenue to shift anxiety and stress off your shoulders and to take on a mindset of peace and contentment. When done together with your spouse, you can collectively begin to move your relationship away from those negative emotions and towards more healthy living.
The goal is more joy
I know that setting and keeping goals can be monotonous and, at times, stressful. For some people, the idea of having goals just gets under your skin. That’s not my hope here. I want you to experience more joy, more hope, more happiness in your relationship in the days ahead. It’s possible for you, sometimes it just takes a little work. Hopefully, these ideas can spark some healthy habits you begin to create with your partner or significant other over the next year.