A couple that creates common goals is also making an emotional investment in their future together. Having joint goals builds a team mentality that can help smooth over the minor conflicts that occur over time. Like any shard vision or goal for the future, it does not have much meaning unless there is progress towards the goal.

When life gets in the way too often, that bucket list can eventually become a list of disappointments and unmet expectations weighing on the relationship. A couple should set a schedule for their excursions and bucket list items, so they remain a priority. That will keep the couple looking forward to something, and allow them to refocus attention to strengthening their bond. The partner that supports the goals of their loved one will reap benefits of sharing in the joy of their partner’s accomplishments, and might also gain some appreciation for why a bucket list item is important.

The more variety that goes into the bucket, the better. Different bucket list items will bring variety to the couple’s future, and can create some meaningful communication when the list is planned. Of course, if we are in the early stages of a relationship and trying this activity, things like kids, marriage, and relocations might need to be addressed before the couple commits to one another long term. 

When creating a joint bucket list, it may make sense to create some categories. Are there things that can be accomplished locally or over a weekend? Those can be done as drops in the bucket list. Seeing the world wonders might take several years and multiple trips, and that can go as an annual goal to accomplish. There is nothing saying that there can’t be relationship goals or family goals in the bucket as well. A couple should try to make their bucket list something to enjoy and work on consistently. There could even be penalties for missing a bucket list goal deadline. Maybe some extra savings or chore task can be included as a penalty. The only bad bucket list is one that stays full.     

Dr. Ethan Gregory

Written for The Chicago Tribune

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Author of I’m Sorry, You are Not a Pick-Up Artist and I’m Sorry, You are Not a Disney Princess

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