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15 Relationship Milestones That Are Worth Celebrating

15 Relationship Milestones That Are Worth Celebrating

As relationships evolve, there are certain relationship milestones that you and your partner will encounter. These markers signal the start of new chapters in your lives together.

These significant occasions will bring you closer and add layers of depth to your relationship.

A lot of expectant parents have read the book What to Expect When You’re Expecting. It has become a kind of Bible for parents about to bring a newborn into the world.

It’s useful because it delineates the process of pregnancy, childbirth, and beyond. Being prepared takes the guesswork out of it, and provides much-needed insight for becoming a parent.

Becoming a couple and building a strong partnership goes through its own process. Wouldn’t it be nice to know what to expect in this life stage, too?

Let’s take a look at some of the milestones couples can expect to experience in their journey together.

1. From “Just Dating” to Exclusivity

Dating is a numbers game. Sometimes, it takes a while to find what you’re looking for. It’s not unlike going shopping and trying on multiple outfits before finding the one that fits just right.

In the store of life, it can be challenging to find the perfect fit, but once you do, it’s very fulfilling.

After you’ve been going out for a while, you might discover that the person you’re seeing is pretty much everything you’ve ever wanted in a partner. You share the same goals, you’re compatible, and you love being with each other.

It’s at this point that you might decide to become exclusive and work on building your relationship. This relationship milestone is a great start, and worthy of recognition.

Having a tough time finding the right person? Check out 6 Proven Ways to Succeed with Online Dating.

2. Saying “I Love You!”

Who says it first? This is a semi-scary relationship milestone because in order to tell your love interest that you love them, you’re gambling with your heart.

What if you utter those three little words and your love interest just stands there and replies, “That’s nice”? Ouch.

When you start to realize that your feelings have turned to love, you might experience some vulnerability. Declaring your love comes with a great deal of risk. But great things usually do.

This milestone, if both parties feel the same, sets the tone for many milestones to come. It’s definitely worth celebrating your newfound closeness.

3. Making Love

This can be a momentous relationship milestone. It can come before or after saying “I love you” for the first time. Either way, by the time you arrive at this point, something amazing is happening in the relationship.

You’re starting to feel a special bond. You’ve both let down your guard, and there’s a feeling of connectedness between you.

If you’ve decided to wait until you’ve gotten to know each other better before reaching this relationship milestone, it makes the lovemaking all the more exhilarating.

Having sex with a new partner can be unnerving, exciting, and definitely unforgettable.

After all, it’s the first time. Maybe not the first time, but the first time with a new person, right? So, yes, this is definitely worthy of remembering.

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“Dear Diary…”

NOTE: If you’ve been single for a while, have been through a difficult breakup, or have experienced the loss of a loved one, this milestone is critical because it means opening yourself up again.

There may be a lot of hesitation and uncertainty, but eventually, when you’re both ready, things will fall into place, and it won’t feel so awkward anymore.

“Your heart will be at war with your body at first. But then it will slowly remember the beauty of love, intimacy, and the physical experience we are here to have. AND IT WILL SURRENDER TO IT.” – Christina Rasmussen [1]

4. Meeting Friends and Family

This is a really critical relationship milestone. Receiving the Stamp of Approval from friends and family basically seals the deal.

Even though you may have fallen hard for your person, it always feels better if your family and friends think they are just as great as you think they are.

It makes things easier for your relationship in the long run. There are going to be many events during your life together, some of them with friends and family. You want to make sure everyone gets along, if possible.

“Relationships do not occur in vacuums…the truth is that our romantic connections are embedded within our broader social lives. Thus, our romantic relationships occur in and around our broader social networks and relationships with family and friends…” – Erica B. Slotter [2]

Getting along with your partner’s good friends and close family members is critical to the success of the relationship.

Maybe Aunt Marsh isn’t very nice, but remember, all these people were there long before you were, so smile and be polite. The reunion won’t last forever.

5. Having Your First Fight

It’s going to happen. No matter how in love you are, disturbances are going to take place.

As you become more at ease with each other, guards will drop, and the baggage that you’ve both been carrying will, at some point or another, spill out.

This is obviously not cause for celebration, but you know what is? Talking it out, getting to the root of the problem, fixing it, and then moving forward.

All couples have disagreements. It’s how you manage them that is important. Each time you are able to get through an argument and become stronger for it, you’ve improved your relationship overall.

If you make it through your first fight, go ahead, have a nice dinner somewhere and talk about how much closer you feel.

6. Taking Your First Trip Together

Taking your first vacation together is certainly significant. Spending all that time away from home and all its comforts will give you a glimpse into the state of the relationship.

How well do you travel together? How flexible are you? Are you both able to compromise?

In order to travel together, you must work in tandem to come up with a trip you can both enjoy.

Your true personalities will no doubt surface at some point during the planning and the actual trip as unexpected things pop up.

“Travel pulls us from our routines and our comfort zones, so you’ll get to know a different side of a person. You’ll see how they react to lost luggage or evil mosquitoes. And they’ll see you when you’re hangry…” – Hannah Howard [3]

How you both handle things is a great indicator of each of your personalities. So, if you have an amazing time on your trip and get along splendidly, you made it through another relationship milestone!

7. Getting Engaged

You’ve dated for an appropriate amount of time — enough to know that your love interest has kept your attention, and that you want more. Lots more. It’s a solid relationship, and you believe this is The One.

After much thought, you decide that becoming engaged is the next logical step. This milestone is important because it will be the stepping stone for many more significant chapters in your life.

Getting engaged says you’re ready to take your relationship to the next level. You don’t just want to date or shack up, you want to plan a future together.

If you have gotten this far, it is definitely worth celebrating. Getting here may not have been easy, but you made it to the point where your heart and mind are saying, “This is the person I want to share my life with.”

8. Getting Married

Getting engaged is big, but getting married clinches the deal. Tying the knot says that you both want to fully commit to each other and that you’re both willing to have each other’s backs.

Taking this final step is not “just a formality,” as I often hear from people; it is saying that you’re both all in, for better or for worse.

When you get married, you’re not just saying, “Yeah, I’m going to be with you forever!” You’re actually proving it by taking the necessary step, and sharing it with your friends and family.

However, getting married doesn’t always have to be a big affair in front of many loved ones.

Some couples like it short, sweet, and private. That’s fine. You’re still stating that you’re all in, and shutting the door on everyone else.

9. Buying a Home

Consider this relationship milestone a boulder not a pebble! When you, as a couple, decide to buy a home together, you’re in the thick of it.

You may or may not be married, but you are assuming that you will be in the relationship for the long haul.

Buying a home is a huge commitment — one that requires both parties to work in unison to consider mortgage payments, taxes, decorating ideas, and more. You will have to be completely in sync to make your home a cozy nest.

Closing escrow, which essentially means that the sale is final, definitely merits celebrating.

Creating a home together requires sacrifice, effort, and lots of love. When you can pull this off, it’s time to have a housewarming party!

10. Sharing a Terrible Secret

You know that you are both deeply committed when you tell each other your worst secrets. I’m not talking about saying, “I killed a man a couple of years back in a brawl. They still don’t know it was me.” (Yikes!)

I’m talking about things — embarrassing or painful things — that you have never shared with anyone else. If you can open up to each other and divulge your BIG secret(s), that’s a sign of deep intimacy and trust.

“[I]t may take some time for you to reveal your potentially shameful personal secrets to a partner. Eventually, though, when you feel comfortable enough, those long-buried truths will likely come out — and you and your partner should become that much closer.” – Susan Krauss Whitbourne [4]

By the time you share your secret(s), you’ve built up a lot of trust in each other. That’s one way to keep your relationship expanding on many different levels, and it is definitely worth celebrating.

11. Having Your First Baby

This relationship milestone is one of the biggest life changers of all. No one is fully ready for this one. You may have the nursery all set up, and might have read What to Expect When You’re Expecting thoroughly (see above), but no one is ready.

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Having a baby will test you, the relationship, and everything else you can imagine. But it is also an opportunity to bond with your partner even more, believe it or not.

You will have to come together often to make important decisions about your baby. In the process, your love for each other will grow as you share the most priceless thing in your lives.

When your baby comes into being, it will require the stamina of an Olympic athlete, and the patience of Job. It’s a big task, but it can be done. During this time, make sure that you set aside time for each other.

You might be tempted to put romance on the back burner, but it is important to keep that love flame alive. Two happy parents produce happier children. Don’t skip date nights!

Raising a baby can be exhausting, but it can also one of the most amazing events in your lives. And imagine all the photo ops for Facebook and Instagram!

Still nervous? Read our 50 Top Parenting Tricks and Hacks That Will Make Life Easier And More Fun.

12. Dropping off Your Little Tyke on the First Day of School

What parent doesn’t shed a tear as they drop their beloved child off on their first day of Kindergarten? Their baby is no longer a baby. Kindergarten starts it all. It’s the beginning of the educational journey.

But for you, as a couple, it’s a chance to have more time to yourselves. You can both celebrate this momentous event — maybe have brunch after dropping off your little one.

Celebrate how far you’ve come; recount some of the cute things you’ve experienced, and talk about some of the things you’re looking forward to.

Think of it this way: with all the extra time you have, you can plan more romantic rendezvous for you and your honey, not to mention share prideful moments as your little person learns to count to 100.

Take lots of pictures, and enjoy this big and sentimental relationship milestone.

13. Puberty! Yikes!

At some point, without even realizing it, your child becomes a tween, and then a teenager. You seriously start to wonder who they are.

“Where’s my little princess?” you might ask. “What happened to the boy who used to cuddle with me at night?”

Yes, you will have a stranger in your house.

This phase lasts quite a while. It’s probably one of the most difficult relationship milestones. There’s major attitude, smart-mouthing, disregard for orders, hateful words, and more.

As a couple, you might find yourselves disagreeing on how certain things should be handled. But this is the time to come together; to be strong, and to build a united front.

Lean on each other for support, and build each other up when discouragement sets in. This is another bonding experience that can solidify your relationship.

During this phase, I highly recommend the book by Michael J. Bradley, Yes, Your Teen is Crazy!: Loving Your Kid Without Losing Your Mind.

When my son turned into a “stranger,” I read this book carefully. The highlighter was my friend.

This book is excellently written and extremely helpful. It will give you hope and normalize what you’re experiencing. You will feel better about yourself and your unruly teen.

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For you as a couple, it can guide you along so that you’re more adept at handling the difficult situations that might come your way.

This too shall pass. Hang in there! I don’t know if this is necessarily a relationship milestone to celebrate, but it is a milestone. What you’ll be celebrating is the day they turn human again.

Times will be rough, but it will feel so good when it ends. In an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, Ellen Pompeo says, “Why do I keep hitting myself with a hammer? Because it feels so good when it stops!” And it will stop! [5]

14. Getting a Promotion

Somewhere in between raising your teen, teaching them how to drive, and surviving it all with a tasty dinner after their high school graduation, you and/or your partner may be offered a promotion.

You may have worked hard in your chosen careers and are now being recognized by being offered a wonderful opportunity.

This might mean more money, a title change, or both, and possibly the ability to afford things you weren’t able to before. It will also mean more responsibility.

Remember to be responsible with the time you do have. Use your new benefits to come closer together, to plan trips, and to have more romantic times together.

This is a wonderful relationship milestone. It is saying, “You’ve done an excellent job, and we recognize it.” This is a time to congratulate each other and celebrate your achievements.

If both of you are working hard, but only one of you gets promoted, don’t allow jealousy to set in. Be happy for your partner. What’s good for one of you will be good for both of you. After all, you are a team.

Celebrate your promotion(s), but keep the date nights and the communication going.

Read 7 Habits of Successful Working Parents to strike the best work-family balance you can.

15. Feeling the Empty Nest

One day, after all is said and done, your little one will have turned into an adult right before your very eyes. They will be packing up for college, getting married, or simply moving out.

This will be a bittersweet relationship milestone. As much as you want your child to be independent, you are going to miss their presence.

Here is something to think about: If your relationship was neglected during the child-rearing years, there may be some consequences resulting from that neglect.

Once your child is gone, so is the distraction. It will be just you and your partner, “alone again, naturally,” as the Gilbert O’Sullivan song says. [6] The good news is, this is a great time to rediscover each other.

This milestone can be an opportunity to expand as a couple, to take time to date, travel, and enjoy friends. The sadness will dim, don’t worry. Everything will fall into place, and new routines will be created.

NOTE: In some cases, son or daughter may return home because they discover how hard it is out in the REAL WORLD. So, celebrate and enjoy your time without them while you can.

The Bottom Line

The above relationship milestones aren’t the only ones. You may have celebrated milestones that aren’t even on this list, but that were very special to you nonetheless.

Whatever markers your relationship experiences, they are markers to be acknowledged. After all, you’re building a life together.

All the shared experiences that lead up to that 60+ year anniversary are worth celebrating, are they not?

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Even More Relationship Advice

Featured photo credit: Farsai Chaikulngamdee via unsplash.com

Reference

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Rossana Snee

Rossana is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. She aspires to motivate, to inspire, and to awaken your best self!

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Last Updated on April 14, 2021

How to Deal With Anger (The Ultimate Anger Management Guide)

How to Deal With Anger (The Ultimate Anger Management Guide)

We all lose our temper from time to time, and expressing anger is actually a healthy thing to do in our relationships with others. Expressing our differences in opinion allows us to have healthy conflict and many times come to an agreement or understanding that works for everyone. However, there are times when anger can become overwhelming or damaging, and during these times, it’s important to learn how to deal with anger.

Expressing anger inappropriately can be harmful to relationships, both personal and professional. You may express too much anger, too often, or at times that are only going to make things worse, not better. In this article we will look at anger management techniques that will help you better control your emotions.

Let’s take a deeper look at how to deal with anger.

Expressing Anger

Anger is a natural and normal part of almost any relationship. This includes relationships with your significant other, kids, boss, friends, family, etc. Anger provides us with valuable information if we are willing to listen to it. It clues us in to areas where we disagree with others and things that need to be changed or altered.

Unhealthy Ways to Express Anger

Here are some common yet unhealthy ways to express anger that you should avoid:

Being Passive-Aggressive

This is a term many of us are familiar with. Passive-aggressive behavior happens when someone is angry but uses indirect communication to express their anger.

Some of the more common passive-aggressive behaviors include the silent treatment, making comments about someone behind their back, being grumpy, moody, or pouting, or simply not doing tasks or assignments that they should.

This is a passive-aggressive person’s way of showing their anger. It’s not very productive but extremely common.

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Poorly-Timed

Some people get overwhelmed and express anger in a situation where it can’t really do any good.

An example would be getting angry at one person in front of a crowd of people. All that does is make people uncomfortable and shuts them down. It’s not a healthy way to express anger or disagreement with someone.

Ongoing Anger

Being angry all the time is most often a symptom of something else. It’s healthy and normal to express anger when you disagree with someone. However, if someone is angry most of the time and always seems to be expressing their anger to everyone around them, this won’t serve them well.

Over time, people will start to avoid this person and have as little contact as possible. The reason being is no one likes being around someone who is angry all the time; it’s a no-win situation.

Healthy Ways to Express Anger

What about the healthy ways[1] to adapt? When learning how to deal with anger, here are some healthy ways to get you started.

Being Honest

Express your anger or disagreement honestly. Be truthful about what it is that is making you angry. Sometimes this will entail walking away and thinking about it for a bit before you respond.

Don’t say you’re mad at something someone did or said when it’s really something else that upset you.

Being Direct

Similar to being honest, being direct is a healthy way to express anger.

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Don’t talk around something that is making you angry. Don’t say that one thing is making you angry when it’s really something else, and don’t stack items on top of each other so you can unload on someone about 10 different things 6 months from now.

Be direct and upfront about what is making you angry. Ensure you are expressing your anger to the person who upset you or you are angry at, not to someone else. This is very counterproductive.

Being Timely

When something makes you angry, it’s much better to express it in a timely manner. Don’t keep it bottled up inside of you, as that’s only going to do more harm than good.

Think of the marriages that seem to go up in flames out of nowhere when the reality is someone kept quiet for years until they hit their breaking point.

Expressing anger as it occurs is a much healthier way of using anger to help us guide our relationships in the moment.

How to Deal With Anger

If you feel angry, how should you deal with it right at that moment?

1. Slow Down

From time to time, I receive an email at work that makes me so angry that steam is probably pouring out of my ears.

In my less restrained moments, I have been known to fire off a quick response, and that typically has ended about as well as you might imagine.

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When I actually walk away from my computer and go do something else for a while, I am able to calm down and think more rationally. After that happens, I am able to respond in a more appropriate and productive manner. Doing things that helps you learn how to release anger can make an uncomfortable situation more manageable before it gets out of hand.

2. Focus on the “I”

Remember that you are the one that’s upset. Don’t accuse people of making you upset because, in the end, it’s your response to what someone did that really triggered your anger. You don’t want to place blame by saying something like “Why don’t you ever put away your dishes?” Say something more like “Having dirty dishes laying on the counter upsets me—can you work with me to come to a solution?”

When you are accusatory towards someone, all that does is increase the tension. This doesn’t usually do anything except make your anger rise higher.

3. Work out

When learning how to deal with anger, exercise is a great outlet. If something happens that angers you, see if you have the opportunity to burn off some of the anger.

Being able to hit the gym to get a hard workout in is great. If this isn’t an option, see if you can go for a run or a bike ride. If you are at work when you become angry and the weather permits, at least go outside for a brisk walk.

Besides working some of your anger out through exercise, this also helps to give your mind a chance to work through some ways to address what it is that upset you.

If you’re not sure where to start with an exercise routine, check out Lifehack’s free Simple Cardio Home Workout Plan.

4. Seek Help When Needed

There are times when we could all use some help. Life can be stressful and overwhelming. It’s perfectly fine to seek some help from a mental health professional if it will help you get back to a healthy balance.If you find that you are angry all the time, it might be a good idea to go talk to an expert about learning to control intense emotions. They can give you some sound advice and ideas on how to get your anger to a more manageable and healthy level.

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5. Practice Relaxation

We all seem to lead incredibly busy lives, and that’s a good thing if we are loving the life we are living. That being said, it is very beneficial to our physical and mental well-being to take time out for relaxation.

That can mean spending time doing things that help us calm down and relax, like being around people we enjoy, practicing deep breathing or listening to music. It could be making time for things that help bring us balance like a healthy diet and physical activity.

Many people incorporate techniques such as yoga and meditation to calm their minds and release tension when learning how to deal with anger. Whatever your choice is, ensure you take time out to relax when warning signs of anger start to bubble up.

6. Laugh

Incorporating humor and laughter on a regular basis will help keep anger in check and help you get over a bad mood and feelings of anger more quickly. This isn’t part of formal anger management techniques, but you’ll be surprised by how well it works. Remember, life is a journey that’s meant to be enjoyed fully along the way through healthy emotion. Make sure you take time to laugh and have fun.Surround yourself with people that like to laugh and enjoy life. Don’t work at a job that just causes you stress, which can lead to anger. Work at something you enjoy doing.

7. Be Grateful

It’s easy to focus on the bad in life and the things that cause us negative emotions. It’s vitally important to remind ourselves of all the wonderful things in life that bring us positive emotions, things that we easily forget because we get caught up in the whirlwind of day to day life.

Take time out each day to remind yourself of a few things you are grateful for in order to help you learn how to release anger and invite in more positive feelings.

Final Thoughts

Life can be overwhelming at times. We seem to have constant pressure to achieve more and to always be on the go. People we are around and situations we are in can cause stress, anger, and negative emotions. At times, it can seem to be too much, and we get angry and our emotions start to get out of control.

During these times, keep in mind that life is an incredible journey, full of wonder and things that bring you joy. When you find yourself angry more often than is healthy, take time out to remember the good things in life—the things that we seem to forget yet bring us so much positive energy and emotions.

Use some of the tips included here to help with how to deal with anger and better control your emotions.

More Resources on Anger Management

Featured photo credit: Andre Hunter via unsplash.com

Reference

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