What it is that makes a relationship last for the long haul is one of those mysteries on par with wondering what we're doing on Earth, if aliens walk among us, or why some people like sweet more than savory. But on a basic level, if you are interested in having a lasting, long-term partnership with someone, sharing the same relationship goals should be the foundation. Or, so say the pros, anyway.
"It's not enough to have romantic feelings. If you really want to manifest a strong emotional life lasting connection you have got to show your love in deeds. Small and big," matchmaker, dating coach, and relationship expert Channa Bromley tells Bustle. And although those deeds might be different for each couple, first and foremost, it has to be about being willing to show up for each other.
"Goals couples need to share will start with the willingness to put the effort in, and the willingness to say yes to one another."
So, that might mean going to the date even though you have a work deadline, saying yes to adventures together or yes to open communication, Bromley says.
Below, take a look at some of the basic goals that can help maintain a relationship for the long-term.
1. Decide On Connecting Rituals That Work For You
Habitual connection rituals are really important, Bromley says, so figure out which ones work best for you. It could be morning or evening walks, a weekly date, or choosing to do a full week away together once a year.
Bromley says that doing an "annual review of life visions together" is a particularly good way to keep in step with someone. "Get clear on the updated version of each other's life vision," Bromley says. Make a point of talking about the life you are creating together as it's happening. "Consciously create your life with your partner by your side," Bromley says.
2. Agreeing On What Works For Your Sex Life
Yes, it's good to be on the level with each other when it comes to what you want from your sex life.
While of course desire, frequency, and practices can ebb and flow throughout a relationship, maintaining communication about sex is really important.
Marriage and family therapist and author Dr. Caroline Madden, PhD, who lectures on dealing with the traumas of infidelity, tells Bustle that she is often asked how many times a week a couple should have sex, and her response is that it depends on the couple.
"If each partner is satisfied with the frequency of sex, then that is the right number of times a week," Madden says. In general, Madden recommends committing to having sex at least once a week. But more than anything, knowing what you and your partner want and honoring that is always going to be key.
3. Helping Each Other Achieve Your Unique Goals
You don't have to have the same goals to support one another in accomplishing your own, of course. But helping each other to self-actualize and follow your own unique life goals is a really important part of a partnership.
"Couples need to give each other the opportunity to blossom. Especially when they see that they are not thriving in life," intimacy and relationship coach, Joyce Oladipo, of Enchant Life, tells Bustle.
"We all change as we grow in life, our passion changes, our vision changes or desires expand and this is normal. But stagnancy kills relationships," Oladipo says. That's why it's important to show your partner support, and know they have your back too.
4. Having Firm And Clear Boundaries
Boundaries are everything, and it's important to be really clear on the impact of outside forces and circumstances on your relationships.
Be real with each other about what is important to you, and what you are or are not comfortable with allowing into your lifestyle. How much alone time do you need? What types of relationships or situations make you feel unsafe, or on the other hand, what do you absolutely need in your life to make you feel happy?
"Couples should establish clear boundaries in their relationship regarding friends, family members, and any external sources," Virginia-based therapist Charese L. Josie, LCSW, Founder of CJ Counseling and Consulting, who focuses on empowerment-based approaches, tells Bustle.
Outside influences can have a large impact on the success or failure of the relationship, Josie says. So be communicative about where your relationship falls within it all.
5. Being Honest About Financial Goals And Practices
Money, money, money. Making sure that you have some clarity around your practices and goals with your finances is key. And that might mean having as little to do with each other's money as possible, or it might mean having joint everything forever. Whatever it is, being clear with each other when it comes to money is important if you are sharing a life on the day-to-day.
"Couples should have a discussion to determine if their financial goals are similar," Josie says. "If one does not respect the other, it may foster a lack of trust."
6. Being Clear About Your Expectations
"This is a significant factor and one that is often overlooked," Josie says. "We all have expectations without realizing it, as we [usually believe that] our expectation is something the other person should just know."
Be clear on what your expectations are for the other person, and be clear with them about it, too, from the beginning. Then continue doing that! And trust, expectation is an umbrella term that can include everything from who pays for dinner to your ideas about long-term monogamy.
"Determine if your expectations are realistic of what that person can accomplish." Josie says. "The discussion of goals should be determined early in the relationship. It should be discussed as friends would discuss any subject."
After all, Josie says, relationships should be built on friendships, making it natural to discuss our needs. Being able to talk like this early on can make it easier to continue doing this throughout the relationship.
While each relationship is unique and can be tailored to what is most important to your partnership, having some goal guideposts is always a good idea. Ain't love grand?