BLOG: How to Create a Fountain of Happiness in Your Marriage
Goals = Happiness
One of the top proven practices for creating happiness is to pursue goals.
“In a nutshell, the fountain of happiness can be found in how you behave, what you think, and what goals you set every day of your life." - Sonya Lyubomirsky
So why not apply that to your romantic relationship? Why not create and pursue goals TOGETHER as a path to creating ongoing and evolving happiness in your marriage? Pursuing what you BOTH want can be a fountain of happiness for years to come.
The couple that pursues goals together, not only stays together, they THRIVE together!
The Pleasure is in the Pursuit
It turns out, it’s not even about ACHIEVING the goals. Research has shown that it's the PURSUIT of goals that makes you happy even more so than achieving them.
"It turns out that the process of working toward a goal, participating in a valued and challenging activity, is as important to well-being as its attainment.” - Sonya Lyubomirsky
The practice of pursuing goals together is in and of itself a happiness-inducing act, let alone all the good things that happen when you stop fighting each other and start focusing on creating together instead.
The power of even just pursuing goals is NOT lost on us here at For Better Love. We’re all about it! We recommend couples create goals together and play a 90 Day Game three times a year, focusing on three core themes/seasons…
- PLAY (May 15 to Aug 14)
- PEACE (Sept 15 to Dec 14)
- PASSION (Jan 15 to April 14)
Even though pursuing goals is a good thing, it’s still absolutely foundational and delightfully restorative to devote 30 days for the Pro-Active Period in between each of those goal-driven seasons.
Three times a year we LET GO of driving towards our relationship goals and we give ourselves and our relationship a month to…
- CELEBRATE (Week 1), what we accomplished recently
- REST (Week 2) and rejuvenate from the rigor of aiming for awesome for a while and finally to take some time to
- REFLECT (Week 3), on what’s been working or what could work BETTER before you
- TAKE AIM (Week 4), by creating next-level goals for your love life.
Aiming is Empowering
Now, in the fourth and final week of the Pro-Active Period, we TAKE AIM.
If you’re going to thrive in a long term committed relationship, to have things get better and better over time - rather than drifting into a default mode where you are on each other’s nerves or worse, at each other’s throats, then you better bust out the healthy HABITS for keeping things happy and hot.
This final week of the Pro-Active Period and the upcoming start to a new 90 Day Game Season brings an opportunity to set goals and take TAKE AIM for the next level in YOUR love life.
Who might you and your beloved become and what results might you create if you let go of any blaming or complaining energy and instead set your minds and hearts aiming at the same thing, something you BOTH really wanted more of?
If you build a relationship HABIT of TAKING AIM at what you want together, investing your intention, attention, and action into improving rather than fixing your marriage, then the partnership and connection will only get better and better and better. What you water, grows.
Invest In Intimacy Or Else
If you fail to invest in intimacy and you let yourselves and your relationship slip into the day-to-day default relationship, it can be disastrous. Life abhors a vacuum they say, so don’t let conflict creep in. Tend to your relationship garden or weeds will grow!
“A man's mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild; but whether cultivated or neglected, it must, and will, bring forth. If no useful seeds are put into it, then an abundance of useless weed seeds will fall therein, and will continue to produce their kind.” ― James Allen, As a Man Thinketh
The last thing you want on autopilot is your marriage. Invest in intimacy as an ongoing HABIT or pay the price when problems inevitably pop up. Marriage isn’t easy. It takes effort. But it doesn’t have to be work - IF you make TAKING AIM at what you BOTH want together into a HABIT.
Unconscious Vs Intentional
Let's say your goal is to have better communication with your beloved. Great intention, yet if you do not cultivate healthy habits to take intentional action to communicate better, you WILL drift back into unconscious habits that may be human, yet they are certainly NOT helpful. The drift into the default is real and rarely helpful.
You may have an unconscious habit of talking about stressful issues like money, scheduling, (or whatever is tension provoking for you and/or your beloved), whenever they happen to pop into your mind - without much regard as to it if it’s a good time for your beloved to talk about that issue at the moment or not.
That particular unconscious habit of talking about whatever, whenever, (the weed that pops up - using the metaphor from the quote above), has a negative impact on your experience, connection and the effectiveness of your efforts. It certainly did for our marriage!
We KNEW there had to be a better way and so we TOOK AIM at how we wanted it to be instead. We PLAYED with times that would work for BOTH of us.
But first, we had to assess what was NOT working and rule that OUT.
What’s Not Working
I learned early on that asking my husband anything other than something I knew would be enjoyable for him after 9pm was a mistake. If it didn’t go well, it was on me. When my beloved introvert is chilling out at the end of his day, the LAST thing he needs is me asking him if he’s OK with a house guest coming for a week.
He learned that just because he’s been up for two hours before me and already has 2-3 things he wants to ask me about, does NOT mean I am ready to hear them first thing when I get up. If he asks me anything early in the am before I have gotten going, he’s poking a walking bear. Just not wise and CERTAINLY not effective. Potentially downright dangerous as I might likely snap at him for asking me too much too soon.
Trying to discuss something difficult for either one of us, especially at particular times was NOT a good idea, It was actually a terrible habit and was NOT going to get either of us a desirable result nor would it lead to any greater happiness.
Those sabotaging habits around timing and communication were human, common and often even understandable, yet often it was just NOT helpful.
"If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading." - Lao Tzu
Serve or Sabotage Assessment
What unconscious, sabotaging habits do YOU have around your relationship?
Before you TAKE AIM and set your sights and actions on your new habits and goals, spend a few moments to…
- Actively REFLECT on your current relationship habits.
- WRITE the habits down on a piece of paper.
- Write down which habits SERVE you and your relationship, which habits SABOTAGE, and which habits are NEUTRAL.
- Cross out any of those habits that are BLOCKING you from achieving the relationship goals and happiness you want most.
- Circle the habits that bring you CLOSER to the experience, results and connection you want most.
- Finally, REPLACE those sabotaging habits with the ones that serve you and your relationship by setting empowering GOALS and playing inspiring 90 Day Games.
Once you've identified WHICH relationship habits are keeping you from marital success and which ones bring you more of the play, peace and passion together that you crave, then you can TAKE AIM at REPLACING them.
You see, you don't "get rid" of bad habits. Rather, you SWAP out the bad habits for better ones. So make a list of the NEW habits that will take the place of the old, self-sabotaging habits.
Even though it took a good five years to really make our weekly Marriage Meetings an unconscious, just-who-we-are, Couple Culture habit, we kept experimenting little by little with when was a good time to talk about what.
We first learned what did NOT work and we ruled those times OUT. Nothing after 9pm or before 9am. Now years later, we’re even more intentional and Fridays at 10am is our weekly check-in to talk about the calendar, money and our relationship goals.
Outside of that time, we do our best to keep our energies more flirty than functional and to save the life management issues for our weekly Marriage Meeting when we can. That's not always the case, but for the most part, we do.
We found that being intentional about WHEN we spoke about what, saved us sooooo much heartache, conflict and wasted time while ALSO creating more freedom and space for the flirty and fun to develop and unfold naturally.
No business in the bedroom!
Unconscious Awesomeness is NOT Overnight
This was a NEW habit to replace the old. It was a BIG one, but it did NOT happen overnight.
We had to TAKE AIM, set a goal, play a 90 Day game to make this shift a new habit - OUT of the unconscious, sabotaging, unhealthy habits and INTO using our intention, attention and action for the new healthy habit to become unconscious, natural and a new normal for us.
Be patient with yourself, your beloved and this shift from habits that sabotage your relationship to those that serve it.
Focus on YOU / Pleasure Not Pressure
It’s important to note here that even if your beloved isn't as into being as intentional as you are about reflecting on your relationship habits and TAKING AIM at creating new, healthy and empowering habits, it’s OK. Keep going on your own. Good things come to those who focus on how THEY can grow.
Now if your beloved IS into being your playmate in your relationship evolution - even better. Just don't get stopped because they don't seem interested.
It may take TWO to Tango but research shows it only takes ONE to change a habit.
Plus, pressuring your beloved to do anything RARELY goes well. Make their engagement pleasurable and inviting. Never pressure them to participate.
Stack the Cards In Your Favor
Once you’ve reflected on your self-sabotaging habits and are ready to TAKE AIM on the new habits that serve you and your marriage, be sure you, your beloved and your relationship are set up for success. Stack the cards in your favor to actually get the results you really want.
“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” – Henry David Thoreau
A great way to set yourselves up for relationship success is to TAKE AIM at the results you want most by "Getting CLEAR on How You WANT It To Be".
- What do you BOTH want? What’s the ideal vision?
- What will it look like once you’ve achieved your vision?
- How will you know you’ve gotten to where you wanted to get to together?
Make sure that your relationship goals are…
- Specific: This goal clear and unambiguous to us both
- Measurable: We will be able to measure if this goal has been attained
- Achievable: This goal a stretch, but a realistic stretch for us
- Relevant: This goal is important to us / we are truly motivated to reach it
- Time-bound: This goal has a target completion date
- Inspiring: This goal is inspiring for both of us
Fountain of Happiness
When you TAKE AIM on what you BOTH want as playmates in it together and then you make it a HABIT - that’s when the magic happens, sparks fly (the good kind!) and love and vitality fill the air.
Turn on your fountain of happiness. Swap out your unhealthy habits for something better. Start pursuing goals with your beloved. Make sure you make it a HABIT! Don’t worry about doing it perfectly. It isn’t about loving perfectly, it’s about Loving Better!
How will you TAKE AIM to create next-level love?
- Identify areas for evolving. What are the sabotaging unconscious habits you want to release? Write down what the COST will be if you do not shift those habits.
- What are the habits for you to TAKE AIM at? How do you want it to go in the future? Look to where you want more play, peace or passion. Look to your complaints and translate them into wishes. Then translate those lofty visions into specific actions. Communication? Time alone? Travel? Brainstorm what it will take to SUCCEED.
- Review your goals to make sure they meet the S.M.A.R.T.I. goal-setting criteria.
1. Set Specific and Measurable Milestones (Break your goals into more
2. Make sure your goal is attainable and not too easy or impossible.
3. Check in to see if this is important to YOU and relevant to NOW.
4. Choose an end date to make your goal time-bound.
5. Pick something inspiring and be sure to word it in a way that lights you
- Select a system for follow-through (another couple, a coach (me!), calendar reminders, post its, etc) and put structures in place. Pick your prompts!
REMINDER: Don’t press or pressure your beloved. Share and inspire. Tap into your teamwork, but allow for each beloved participating in their own way and time.
Your ally in aiming for awesome,
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