Those who kept warm relationships got to live longer and happier, said Waldinger, and the loners often died earlier. “Loneliness kills,” he said. “It’s as powerful as smoking or alcoholism.”
The quote above is from this article about happiness and health, and I will try to sum it up with yet another quote:
Close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives, the study revealed.
Right after reading the article, I started thinking about one of my past goals which is about my relationship with my girlfriend. The goal involves listing the problems that affected our relationship and making plans to solve them throughout a year. It was very helpful for us at the time so I would like to share how you can set a similar goal.
List The Problems
This part is more like a brainstorming session. Just take a pen and paper, or open a word document and start writing whatever comes to your mind, together with your partner. Try to keep an open mind, and try not to avoid any problem. It is best to do this exercise when both you and your partner feel comfortable about talking. Don’t try to do this exercise after an argument.
Pick Problems To Solve
Once you list problems, next step is to pick which ones you will work on, obviously. Begin with deciding how many problems you would like to tackle. I suggest ten problems to work on throughout a year. Then, separately go through the list and separately pick the ones you would prefer to work on. The ones you both select are the ones that will definitely make the final list. Discuss together until you reach the number of problems you want to have on your list.
The hardest step is to make plans to solve the problems you have on your final list. Try to be creative. We decided that I will cook instead of ordering food each time my girlfriend goes to gym. This was supposed to solve the problem of me never wanting to eat healthy home-cooked meals, and her never doing any exercise whatsoever. Obviously, some problems will be harder to tackle, but just try your best to come up with a plan.
Keep in mind that you might need to work on some problems on an ongoing basis throughout a year, while you can tackle some of them over a period of two weeks and be done with it. For example, to fix a problem about not exercising enough you might work on creating a habit for it over a year. But to fix a health problem you have been avoiding for a while, you might finally decide to go to the doctor, get treated and be done with it.
What To Expect
As a final note, definitely expect to have a happier and healthier relationship after working on problems that are important for you and your partner. But don’t expect that you will solve a number of problems and you will have fewer in the future. New problems will always come up but you will handle them easily and peacefully.