If you’re a fan of The Big Bang Theory, you probably remember all the agreements Sheldon, played by Jim Parsons, creates with the people in his life. It helps create solid boundaries, understandings, and seeks to diffuse conflict before it even begins. That, in all honesty, is a good way to look at a Relationship Vision.
Here’s the deal: when you took the plunge and committed to a monogamous relationship with your partner, you likely started with stars in your eyes. Many of us believe that finding the right partner means life would always be like a whirlwind romance. Unfortunately, the demands of life quickly remove the rose-colored glasses from romantic perfection. To be honest, most folks spend more time planning the wedding than envisioning how they will live a shared life.
And it isn’t that you love each other any less. But I can’t deny the fact that as you deal with career challenges, parenting, aging parents, and everything else the world tosses at you, it causes stress and strain. This is the exact reason I recommend couples create a relationship vision. Because this invites you to have a daily life that feels loving and nourishing to both of you.
So Why You Should Create a Relationship Vision?
Pop culture references aside, from a coaching perspective, the creation of a Relationship Vision enables you and your partner to define a clear direction for your relationship. This allows you to channel your energy towards ensuring you take actions individually – and as a couple – for the greater good of your partnership.
Rather than see each others as adversaries, when you create a vision together, it ensures that you are (usually) on the same team. Think of it like a roadmap for your life together. This has become more critically important after the way 2020 has made life feel uncertain. And ravaged the sense of certainty anyone had even a mere eighteen months ago.
While it seems like an oxymoron, spending so much time together has meant that real communication between partners happens less. This is also why a relationship vision can strengthen your partnership. Because not only does it layout what you want your relationship to look like. It’s an opportunity to go back to those dreams you had way back when.
Where Do You Begin When Creating a Vision?
The first place to begin is by communicating to your partner that you want to create a relationship vision. Because you want to ensure you are both on the same page. One of the reasons I mentioned The Big Bang theory because sometimes pop culture references rather than psychological processes. It feels more approachable.
Then, you begin simply: each of you has a piece of paper and a pen. And each of you defines what your ideal relationship looks likes. How would you envision your ideal relationship? What would you be doing? How would it feel to spend time together and apart? Do you dream of laughing often? Feeling safe and relaxed? Having activities you both find meaningful?
Ensure you hit all the areas of your life together, including:
- Romance and Sex
- Finances: Including how you make big purchases
- Household Chores
- Family: Including Parenting, In-Laws, Stepchildren, and Co-Parenting with Ex-Spouses
- Communication Goals and Preferences
- Leisure Activities: not just how you spend time together, but how you support each other when apart
Do this in the present tense, as if it were already happening. Because language is important for tone, choose positive wording. For example:
- We support each other in our individual endeavors.
- Intimacy is important so we make love two or three times a week.
- We have an active and satisfying sex life.
- Because our health is important, we exercise together.
- We trust each other.
- Humor makes life better, so we have fun together.
- We support each other’s careers.
- Because we know that dinner together is important, we ensure we eat together at least four days a week.
- We parent as a team.
After each of you has created your individual vision for your relationship, it’s time to share.
Schedule the sharing of each other’s visions for a time when you are relaxed and there won’t be any distractions. Compare lists and place a check next to each of the items you agree with. It’s not so much about specific wording looking exactly like yours as it is the general sentiment. If your partner mentions anything in his vision for your relationship that you don’t object to, circle it! Then, draw a line through the items you don’t agree with.
If your schedules are crazy, it may be easier to do this separately. And then agree on a time to compare notes.
Then create your joint Relationship Vision.
After reviewing each partner’s individual visions, combining them is how you create your joint vision. Identify the priorities that you both agree upon, and ensure that you’re on the same page. This allows you to say yes to what matters the most and no to activities that take away from who you are as individuals and as a couple. It gives you the clarity to manage your shared life together, instead of letting life manage you!
By the way, don’t totally dismiss anything the other partner has crossed off the list. This is the perfect time to explore your differences and seek common ground. In other words, compromise individual views for a cohesive joint vision. I like to call this a tool for diffusing conflicts before they begin.
Your Relationship Vision will dramatically improve the satisfaction level and communication within your relationship, leading to more joyful and content individuals — and a stronger team. While it seems easier to skip this process, remember that without a vision, you leave it to chance.
Because you can’t control everything in life, a Relationship Vision is a valuable tool for your partnership. It serves to support each of you, strengthen the health of your relationship, and provide a level of freedom when you aren’t together. A Relationship Vision helps you both make conscious choices as you navigate the ups and downs of life.
Think of a relationship vision like road side assistance. You want to enjoy this road trip of life together, but you certainly can’t control everything. There are going to be bumps, detours and road construction along the way, but creating a vision gives you structure as you travel together.
Though much of life is out of our control, that doesn’t mean that you can’t be in charge of loving yourself and everything about your daily life.