A recent blog post on The Pioneer Woman extolling the benefits of keeping a relationship to-do list got us thinking: Could penning a shared checklist really fan the flames of romance?
Monique Honaman, author of The High Road Has Less Traffic: Honest Advice on the Path Through Love and Divorce, and her husband created a bucket list as newlyweds. “We review it a couple of times a year and update what we have done and add to the list when we come up with something new that we both want to do,” she says.
Some of their “to do” items are big, like exploring the Phi Phi Islands in Thailand, while others are what Honaman calls “quicker hits,” like riding a Segway scooter. She’s quick to note that they mark completed items as “done” rather than deleting them so they can look back on their progress and reminisce.
“A joint bucket list is a fabulous way for two people to strengthen their relationship, and ensure that they don’t drift apart and live separate lives like so many couples do,” says Honaman.
Making such a list, according to Honaman, enables couples to:
- Set mutual goals and work out the timing and financial aspects of achieving them.
- Learn more about what is important to each other.
- Create memories through sharing new experiences.
The bucket list also gives each partner something to look forward to, and research shows that anticipating a fun experience makes us happier.
Not everyone is as gung-ho about the fun version of the “honey do,” list, however. Orly Katz, LCPC, RN, a professional certified counselor who works with couples, cautions against using the term “to do,” which is often associated with chores or demands. “If one partner plans and the other has to follow or agree, it can build resentment,” Katz says.
That’s one reason why Honaman and her husband set parameters. “We both have to want to do something,” she says. “For example, he wanted to create a podcast and I had no interest, so it stayed off our list.” (This doesn’t mean the other partner’s dream is shot down, just that they’ll have to work towards that goal individually.)
When mutual goals are approached as a team, Katz says, a shared bucket list can be a good thing: “It builds intimacy and leaves room for pleasing each other and wanting the partner to be happy. It shows trust and care.”