Alex was badly shaken up when one of her co-workers unexpectedly lost her husband in a freak accident. She feels sad for the other woman's loss and is now re-evaluating her own relationship too.
Watching the grief and regret that her co-worker is struggling with has put into perspective the petty disagreements and hard feelings that are between Alex and her live-in boyfriend.
She wonders how she would feel if she were to lose her boyfriend tomorrow. Would his annoying habit of leaving the toilet seat up even matter? Would the argument they had last night about who forgot to pay the cable bill be as big a deal?
There are so many things Alex would like to do differently in her relationship-- so many ways that she'd like to change and grow. She's always taken it for granted that there would be time later to tackle the tense and difficult aspects of their relationship.
Now, Alex is realizing the possibility that something could happen and there won't be a later on.
While this is a morbid way to look at her relationship, it's also a positive nudge. Alex sat down and created a “relationship bucket list.” These are the things she'd like to change or experience with her boyfriend before their relationship ends-- whether the end be through a breakup or death.
Alex wrote down on her list things like, “having clear responsibilities about bill paying” and “lightening up about whether or not the toilet seat is left up or down.” She's also included dreams of hers, “kissing at the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris” and “camping on the beach together.”
Making this bucket list has prompted Alex to set aside her frustration and to really talk with (instead of at) her boyfriend about the issues they routinely argue about. She's also feeling inspired to start setting aside money for the romantic adventures she'd like to share with him.
What would be on your relationship bucket list?
Perhaps you've heard about other people making their bucket list or you've watched the movie with the same name. The idea behind a bucket list is to get out and do the things you've always wanted to do before you die or “kick the bucket.” These might be activities or making amends with others.
The great thing about a bucket list is you don't have to be dying of a terminal illness to get out and do what you've put off or even avoided. Making the list can be a motivational tool to help you create a more fulfilling, exciting and joyful life.
This same tool can be specifically applied to your love relationship or marriage.
We all get busy and, often, we put the needs of our partner and relationship last so that we can focus on other things that seem more pressing or even more important. Many people make the assumption that they'll get to the distance or tension in their relationship “one day” and that day never comes...
Unfortunately, the denied or ignored relationship issues get bigger and this can lead to unavoidable conflict and pain.
The great news is you don't have wait until it's possibly too late to have the kind of relationship you want. Create your own relationship bucket list and then actually go do it!
Give yourself permission to dream big.
If you're like a lot of people, making a relationship bucket list may be uncomfortable and challenging because you're not used to thinking beyond what you have with your partner now.
You might be grateful to just have someone special in your life and don't want to disturb things by even considering something more. You may look at the relationships that your friends or family members have and think that, in comparison, yours isn't so bad after all.
A part of you may be a disappointed or dissatisfied. Maybe there's a voice inside of you that is calling for more and you silence it.
We encourage you to continue feeling grateful for your partner and your relationship AND to give yourself permission to dream. Dream BIG!
Without making your partner wrong, to blame, inferior or lacking in some way, write down what you'd love to experience in your relationship. This might be a quality or certain way of interacting. This could be specific experiences.
If there were no limits in your life, what would you be thrilled to share with your partner?
Don't censor yourself and just write down what comes into your mind.
You can use your bucket list as a way to get closer to your partner. If you choose, share what you've written down with your partner. Let him or her know that you're using this as a motivation to make your relationship even better than it is. Be clear that this isn't a gripe or blame list.
It is an invitation for you both to take your relationship to a place beyond either of your expectations.
Together or by yourself, choose (at least) one doable bucket list item. Set a time line and do what it takes to put the wheels in motion to follow through and do this bucket list action or change.
Susie and Otto Collins are relationship coaches and authors who help couples communicate, connect and create the relationship they desire. Click here to get their free ebook, Passionate Heart-Lasting Love.