As you know, PREPARE/ENRICH is celebrating its 35th Anniversary, but perhaps you are a marking a milestone anniversary this year as well. Anniversaries are times to not only celebrate and reflect on how far you’ve come over the years, but also to establish hopes, goals, and resolutions for the year to come.
The CHANGE Model can help you develop an action plan for your relationship goals with six easy steps:
Commit to a specific goal.
First thing’s first. What is your goal? Perhaps you want to become better listeners for each other, or make one-on-one quality time more of a priority, or maybe you just want to improve the overall closeness in your relationship.
Habits – out with the old, in with the new.
Is the myriad of today’s electronic devices an ever-present distraction in your home? Do your smartphones have a place at your dinner table? Is your television on more than it is off? Take breaks from electronic devices and make time for focused attention on one another. You might not even realize how ingrained these habits have become, until you consciously try to break them!
Action – one (baby) step at a time
On the surface, these big-picture goals can seem daunting. Where do you even begin? Break down the larger goal into bite-size chunks. What small, simple things can you and your partner do each day to work toward your goal? Perhaps you log into your Netflix account and make sure the next movie that arrives is one that your partner casually mentioned he/she wanted to watch (show them you were listening!) Maybe you treat yourselves to takeout one evening if one or both of you has had a long day and don’t feel like cooking—not only can you relieve some of your partner’s stress, but you create an opportunity for quality time while sharing a meal. These seemingly small, thoughtful gestures can have exponentially positive effects.
Never give up – even if you experience setbacks!
Inevitably, life happens, and after weeks of great progress you may suddenly find yourselves back at square one (or even square zero!) The thing about relationships is they are always a work in progress! If you use setbacks as opportunities to learn and grow together, you will always be on a path toward a stronger relationship.
Goal-oriented – stay focused on the positive.
Don’t let yourself get weighed down by a bad day or a bad week. Acknowledge and give yourself and each other credit for the efforts and changes you’ve made. Compliment each other, thank each other, encourage each other!
Evaluate progress (and reward yourselves!)
Set up a time each week to reflect on the progress you’ve made. Feeling closer, happier, and more appreciated in your relationship might be a reward in itself, but feel free to plan something special to celebrate how far you’ve come together!
Source: The Couple Checkup Book ©2008