Relationships provide both beautiful and painful moments. Keeping a joint journal empowers couples to record both their positive experiences and thoughts on how to transcend the negative ones. Ultimately, journaling can help couples view the negative experiences as obstacles to overcome together in order to harness greater strength and security.
Below you’ll find details on five key benefits of couples journaling as well as tips on how to start.
Couples journaling is powerful because it enables a couple to not only spend more time together, but also spend that time doing something that strengthens their relationship. Journaling as a couple ties together love, interests, and specific mental processes related to love and relational formation.
The other four benefits outlined below actually surround and support this main benefit. So what, more specifically, does strengthening your relationship look like? Read on for the answer and the key role couples journaling can play.
Better communication is an essential benefit of couples journaling — and one that deserves extra attention. You may have heard that, when it comes to relationships, “communication is everything.” Of course, relationships often prove more complicated than catchy punch lines. Nevertheless, here are three best practices that can help couples foster better communication through journaling:
- Create a “Communication” Section. Dedicate this section of your couples journal to fostering better communication and leave plenty of space for freewriting, notes, and tips.
- Write Together in the “Communication” Section. This is a good place for open, honest discussion surrounding communication and how to improve communication within your relationship.
- Write Alone in the “Communication” Section. It’s important that you also write in the journal alone — especially because your partner will see these raw, honest thoughts. Aim to express your true feelings so your partner can eventually read them with empathy and understanding.
While communication is essential for all relationships, one study found that a healthy relationship may actually lead to healthy communication and not vice versa. So what more can a couples journal do to strengthen your relationship?
Sharing a journal with your significant other ultimately will teach you more about them. In turn, they’ll learn more about you. While this may seem obvious, it’s important to mention so you can focus on using your couples journal for this purpose.
Writing prompts provide an effective tool to help couples learn more about each other. Here are some sample prompts you and your partner can try:
- Who is your best friend? What are the qualities you admire most in them?
- Is there anyone at work you don’t get along with? How come?
- What is the best compliment you’ve ever received?
- If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you like to go? Why?
- What is your favorite __________ and why? (movie, book, food, restaurant, etc.)
Couples can also create writing prompts for each other. For example, you might give your partner this prompt to write about one morning: “In what type of situations do you feel happiest? Which situations make you sad or distressed?” After your partner adds a response, they could leave a prompt for you to write about in the evening. In the evening, you’d read their response and then answer their prompt. This can turn into a fun, rewarding, and effective daily habit.
After completing some journal entries focused on communication and learning about each other, it may be an ideal time to consider broader goals together. Here are three ways a couples journal can support collaborative goal-setting:
- It Provides an Efficient Platform for Tracking Diverse Goals. These goals can deal with things within or outside of your relationship. For example, you may want to save money so you can go on a vacation or even start a business together. You also may write down goals related to improving key aspects of your relationship.
- It Allows You to Create Weekly or Monthly Goal Lists for Later Review. Don’t let these lists feel limiting. You can always repeat some of the same goals in the following weeks or months.
- It Can Boost Motivation. Correlated with higher achievement, setting goals can prove especially powerful when you put goals into writing. Specifically, writing your goals down can increase your motivation to actually achieve them.
Imagine sitting with your partner to set some goals and record them in your couples journal. This likely would spark a plethora of productive conversations as well as visionary discussions. Creating a joint vision is another important benefit of keeping a couples journal that transcends even goal-setting.
Using your couples journal to create a vision together is the final milestone for you and your partner. It marks a strong relationship and a couple ready to take on anything.
So what exactly is a vision and how does it differ from goals? While similar to a goal, a vision is more expansive. It’s a collection of thoughts surrounding what you think life will be like once you begin and/or finish completing your goals.
Creating a joint vision with your significant other will help turn your collective goals into reality. You both should write about what you want specific areas of your life to be like, including your living situation, friends, family, work, service to others, and so on.
Keeping a couples journal is a powerful practice — especially because studies suggest expressive writing can help improve mental ailments. Just imagine what journaling can do for you and your partner collectively.
Before you start, you both must agree that a consistent couples journal will help carry you forward into a better relationship. Next, you should select a journal together and both decide on the type of format, sections, style, and prompts to use.
Ultimately, couples journaling can lead you and your partner to endless possibilities together. Take it one day at a time and focus on consistency, not perfection.
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