Do you know the purpose of your relationship?
Is that a strange question?
Many couples get really puzzled when I ask them that question, but it is a critically important foundation to your relationship. Knowing the goals and purpose of your relationship guides you in everything you do. Being clear together on the “why” of your relationship can focus your choices and direction, especially when things get tricky.
Your relationship purpose is the reason to be together and the overall goal of your relationship. It is your mission together and the thing that separates your relationship from every other relationship out there.
The purpose of my relationship with my husband is protection and fun. Our first purpose drives us to make sure we both feel safe in and out of the relationship and keeps us focused on connection to each other so we are grounded in what we each need to feel safe. The second purpose is about our love for adventure, silliness, and joy, and helps us stay connected to the spark of the relationship. These purposes help us stay focused on what our relationship looks like at its best as well as supporting each of our happiness. When things go off the rails both inside and outside the relationship, returning to our purpose helps us calm down, reset and repair whatever we each may have done to contribute to the problem coming up.
For others, adventure, security, comfort, or challenge might be purposes that align with your relationship and who you each are. A discussion to understand what guides you both and what you each need in the relationship can create a richer connection.
Having a clear purpose for your relationship will also help you stay focused on the habits, communications, and processes that steer you in the direction you need. When things get challenging—as they always do in a long-term relationship—your purpose keeps you oriented to your greater goals and prevents you from getting mired down in day-to-day struggles.
Without purpose, we all flounder a bit. We lose motivation as we get out of touch with the WHY of any activity. The trips to the gym can feel like unnecessary effort; the meditation practice can feel boring; our career can feel stale; the housework can seem pointless—without having a guiding purpose behind each activity.
Our purpose as a couple will evolve over time as we grow and our life expands. Revisiting your purpose on a regular basis-- every few years, for example--can help your relationship stay current and grounded in what you need as you change as people and as your relationship adapts.
To clarify your driving purpose, take some time with your partner and contemplate these questions:
What is the point of our relationship?
What is our driving purpose?
What do we want to accomplish together?
When we look back at our life together, what will we celebrate having done within our relationship?
These questions are not about accomplishments like career achievements, raising kids, or having the possessions or properties you worked for. Those things come as a result of a healthy and vital relationship and the outcome of fulfilling your relationship’s purpose.
The answers to these questions are about the qualities of your life together and the successes you had in creating an experience together. Examples of these experiences are:
“We supported each other’s growth for 40 years.”
“We created a life of adventure and laughter together.”
“We offered grace and forgiveness, making it safe for us to learn and grow together.”
“We challenged each other daily to create personal and professional success.”
Using these questions and examples, I encourage you to get clear about the purpose of your relationship. To take it further and deepen the exercise, I challenge you to formulate this into a mission statement that best captures your purpose and goals together. Make it as fancy or as straightforward as fits the two of you, but come up with a guiding statement for your relationship.
To get the most out of this exercise, sit facing each other so you can see how the experience feels to each of you and what you each find challenging and fulfilling in discussing this. Create safety for each other to share honestly and vulnerably, by welcoming and supporting each other in sharing, providing deep listening and reflection. Doing this will help each of you become clearest in what you need and want. Practice taking turns so you can fully hear each other to develop the purpose most in integrity with each of you.
And most importantly, have fun! Relax, share a beverage, put on some music, and enjoy the investment you are making in your relationship.
Please reach out if I can support your relationship. And download my free guide to build the daily habits to support your purpose and create a healthy connection. That guide can be downloaded here.