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Published on February 20, 2020

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

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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 May 28, 2020

10 Success Principles for Living Your Dream Life

10 Success Principles for Living Your Dream Life

Are you stressed out and overwhelmed, wishing you had more time to do the things that really matter? Are you ready to do something better, something special in your life or your career?

You were born with a gift that no one else in the world can express like you. When you dance to your own music, you naturally develop your innate abilities and excel in work and life. You are a total rock star. But when you live someone else’s idea of who you should be, it throws off your groove.

Many people—maybe you—stopped following their dreams way too early in life because their talents were ignored, minimized, or shamed. They didn’t have the chops to win an American Idol competition or nab an Olympic gold medal, so they stopped expressing their inborn gifts altogether.

You don’t need to be an award winner to rock your life. Living your dream life is about discovering your superpowers and feeling vibrant and joyful when you use them. It’s about owning what makes you unique and finding like-minded people to support you.

Here are 10 success principles to help you live a rich and rewarding life on your terms that have worked with thousands of people in my workshops and will work for you, too.

1. Get a Hobby to Move Closer to Your Dreams

If you never became a professional dancer or a world-renowned author, it does NOT mean you should stop dancing or writing! These activities make you come alive, even if you “only” do them as favorite pastimes.

Engaging in a hobby is one of the most important success principles you can follow to move closer to your dreams.

When you try something creative for the first time or in a long while, you begin to see opportunities at work and in life that you were unaware of before. You also feel happier and more energized, according to a recent study from New Zealand.[1]

Some of my most burned-out executive clients reinvigorated their careers by discovering a creative outlet that refueled them after the workday ended. Research at San Francisco State University shows that having a hobby lowers stress and helps you succeed at work.[2]

So, give yourself permission to try new things and revisit old passions you gave up long ago. Setting aside just one hour a week for personal exploration can significantly change your life.

Who knows? Your creative outlet could transform into a thriving business or lead to a new profession down the road.

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2. Focus on Your Strengths, Not Your Weaknesses

Did you know that you are more likely to succeed when you develop your natural strengths rather than work on your weaknesses? The problem is that you probably don’t know where your true talents lie.

Here are a few options to help you discover your unique strengths. You can:

  • Take the VIA Character Strengths Survey[3]
  • Try Gallup’s CliftonStrengths Assessment[4]
  • Answer a few Superpower Questions

Once you understand what makes you tick, you can use these skills at work and your personal life to get more done in less time. If you boost your unique abilities through practice and study, you can accelerate your career and become a leader in a field that matters to you. It’s worth investing in yourself this way.

3. Jumping off a Cliff is NOT Required

Here’s the deal: most people are too afraid to change. When participants first come to my workshops, they tell me they have mouths to feed, bills to pay, and fear that if they follow their dreams, someone will get hurt.

The old saying “leap and the net shall appear” does not comfort them. Because they are hesitant to plunge into the unknown, they believe their only option is to stay put where they are in life. Can you relate?

You do not have to sacrifice the life you have now to start a new one. I was a psychology professor by day and singer by night for years before I transitioned into a full-time music career.

Just take a little time out each week to do what enlivens you through a hobby, volunteer work, etc. Get a feel for it.

Is it what you really want? If so, increase the time you spend doing it and make the transition when the time feels right.

4. Give Your Inner Critic Some Love

The main culprit that keeps you from stepping outside your comfort zone and getting the life of your dreams is KCRP or K-CRAP – the radio station that plays 24/7 in your head. The moment you try to do something interesting with your life it slaps you down with such chart-topping killer hooks as “Who do you think you are?” and “You’ll never be good enough!”.

Have you ever noticed that KCRP’s mean-spirited DJ sounds like your parents, teachers, bosses, and other authority figures who shut you down creatively? These folks don’t need to stifle you any longer (although they often still do) because your inner critic does it for them. That keeps you stuck in a rut.

To break free, try thinking of this DJ as a gruff old grandfather who gives you crap to keep you safe. Remember, this grumpy grandpa is woefully out of touch with the times. So, his stern opinions don’t really matter much, do they? Give him a pat on the back for his good intentions, and put your focus back on what makes you come alive.

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This success principle will give you the courage to venture into the unknown where you can dance to the beat of your own drummer.

5. Embrace Your Inner Weirdo

Many of us don’t go after our dreams because we’re afraid folks will find out how odd or strange we are. But our little eccentricities often turn out to be our greatest strengths. Yes, it’s good to be quirky.

Odds are, you lost track of your true passions and talents before you were even old enough to know you were getting off-track. You became slowly “adulterated” by learning to:

  • Take on family roles that don’t match who you really are.
  • Spit back what teachers taught you in school rather than risk getting bad grades for being original.
  • Hide parts of yourself that don’t seem acceptable to certain social groups.

The price for fitting in is that you may wind up leading a life that doesn’t fit you all that well. Your true calling becomes clear when you embrace what makes you different from others and allow yourself to stand out from the crowd, even if it feels awkward.

Often, the very qualities you view as your flaws are your greatest gifts.

6. See the Bigger Picture to Find Your True Calling

I cannot stress the importance of this success principle enough. Your true calling is right in front of you. But you may miss it because you’re looking for it in the wrong place.

To “see” it clearly, try widening your point of view.

Case in point: Maria felt she needed to retire early from being a police detective, so she could travel abroad. I encouraged Maria to think of ways that she could continue to serve as a law enforcer (a career she loved) and travel overseas at the same time.

A few months later, Maria landed a job with the United Nations in Bosnia training the local police force to understand and embrace human rights procedures.

Like Maria, you are an everyday rock star capable of accomplishing greater things than you can imagine. Is what you’re looking for right in front of you, too? Do you have an inkling of what it may be?

Look beyond your day-to-day activities, your current job, and even the town you live in. View your life from an eagle’s perspective and be open to new possibilities.

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7. Try a Little Wish-List Magic

Pretend I’m your fairy godmother and I give you permission right now to be your most magnificent self. What kind of life would be music to your ears? It doesn’t matter whether it seems unattainable or even downright crazy. Write it down on a wish list.

Get quiet. Be honest. Think big.

What would you like your career, your relationships, your health, your finances, and your spiritual life to be like? Jot down enough details so that your wishes seem tangible to you. Then, look at this list every morning before you start your day and every night before you go to sleep.

Sounds silly? It’s not. It works! Permitting yourself to daydream about a rich and fulfilling life is the first step to manifesting it.

8. Take Breaks to Get Clues About Your Ideal Future

Did you know that working straight through to a deadline leads to diminishing returns? Research shows that taking a break for 15 minutes every 75 to 90 minutes can help you recharge, refresh your focus, and get more done in less time.[5]

Wait, it gets better! A Stanford study shows that walking increases your creative output increases by 60 percent. Doing repetitive activities such as walking, running, riding your bike, swimming, and sweeping allow solutions to problems to pop into your mind out of nowhere.[6]

What does this success principle have to do with creating your dream life?

These mini-breaks allow you to get vital clues for what to do next to attain your ideal future. Plus, you won’t waste precious time and energy getting lost in other people’s agendas.

9. Take Action on Your Inspired Ideas

Once an inspired thought pops into your mind, take action.

This is one of the most powerful success principles for turning your dreams into reality; the sooner the better. Whatever it is—from calling an old friend to taking a new route home—be sure to do it!

Pay attention to your oddball hunches. You need to go after what you want, not just dream about it. As comedian Jim Carrey warns,

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“You can’t just visualize and go eat a sandwich.”

10. Count Your Rockstar Moments

Still not sure you have what it takes to get your dream life? This final success principle is guaranteed to help.

Make a list of everything you’ve ever accomplished. As you read back through it, put a star next to each item, and let it sink in.

You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how good you’ll feel about yourself afterward. You’ll also see how effective you’ve been in the past at getting what you want. You’ve succeeded before, you can succeed again.

You already rock. You just need to own it. Trust me, you’ve got this!

Final Thoughts

Eleanor Roosevelt said,

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

Following these success principles will help you find the time and energy to do the things that really matter and live with clear intention.

By spending just one hour a week doing something you love, focusing on your strengths and achievements, embracing what makes you different, and acting on inspired ideas, you can create a life that is a perfect fit for you, step-by-step.

If you don’t have a clue about what your dream life could look like yet, don’t worry. Your heart knows. It has been “talking” to you for a long time. It’s just being muffled by KCRP, buried under a lot of “shoulds” and fear.

This article can also help you figure out the life you truly want to live: How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up.

Stand still, get quiet, and listen. It’s constantly telling you what you need to do to realize your own rockstar potential. It may be just a whisper now, but the more you pay attention to it, the louder it will get, and the easier it will be to follow.

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Featured photo credit: Rahul Dey via unsplash.com

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