Ask anyone who is married or in a committed relationship what their number one priority is, and the majority of people will say, "My relationship."
According to social psychologists Roy Baumeister and Mark Leary in a groundbreaking report, humans have an inherent motivation to belong with others in close and intimate relationships.
They theorize that we are "naturally driven toward establishing and sustaining belongingness."
Belongingness is more than a superficial connection or casual sexual relationship. It is a need for deep and meaningful bonding with another person. Baumeister and Leary argue that this bonding is essential for our well-being, and without it, we can suffer mental and physical illness.
But as important as our love relationships are to our health and happiness, it is curious how little time we spend taking care of them.
We'll spend hours at our jobs, pursuing our hobbies, shuffling children to various activities, and hanging out on social media. But how much time do we spend nurturing and improving our love relationships?
If you are married or in a committed relationship, stop for a moment and consider the amount of time you spend actively working to strengthen it. If it's not much, you certainly aren't alone.
When we enter a romantic relationship, it feels like the intoxicating fuel of infatuation will power the relationship forever. But over time, that fuel runs low, and the relationship begins to hobble along on vapors.
This is the time when miscommunication, conflicts, frustrations, and boredom can sabotage the relationship and undermine the intimacy and joy of both partners.
Many couples aren't sure what to do at this point, so they don't do much of anything to revive their connection.
How can couples immunize their relationship from the inevitable stresses and strains of life? How can they enjoy the profound satisfaction that is possible in a committed, long-term relationship?
The answer is by sharing and setting mutual goals for the relationship and committing to daily actions to reach those goals.
Just as you have personal or professional goals, you and your partner can mindfully consider what you want for your relationship and how you're going to achieve it.