Marriage goals? Do you have them? Even know how to set them? Or use them?
In this article we discuss marriage goals. Specifically, how to create them and use them to make your marriage better.
Why is this even important? A simple illustration will help.
Yale University did a study on the taste of chocolate. They had people taste chocolate when they were alone, then rate it. Later they had couples taste chocolate when sharing it with someone. They too rated the experience.
They concluded that when people shared the experience, they always rated it as more enjoyable and flavorful.
Sharing the experience made it better.
I believe goals provide couples an opportunity for a sharing experience that makes their marriage better.
There are practical reasons for this we will discuss in this article.
Let’s start by answering a few common questions about goals.
Why Are Marriage Goals Important?
Focus. Bonding. Agreement. Unity. Direction.
I could list hundreds of reasons setting goals as a couple is beneficial. Perhaps the biggest, overarching reason is it brings us into unity and gives us a common forecast of what we desire as a couple.
When we work together on a project, we have to learn to cooperate and move in unison. This builds a connection in the relationship.Setting goals as a couple and working toward shared dreams brings us into unity and gives us a common forecast of what we desire as a couple. Click To Tweet
Marriage has been described in many ways, with many terms. Covenant. Contract. Partnership.
Whichever term you prefer, they all have the common denominator of togethering. That’s a word I made up. It’s a verb. I like verbs. They demand action, involvement and engagement. The noun together doesn’t carry the same weight or power. Togethering has weight.
Marriage is about doing life together – hence, togethering. It’s one of the reasons we use the term ‘partner’ to refer to our spouse. They are life partners. People we choose to do life with.
Goals are important because they give our togethering a track to run on. Imagine a huge locomotive training barreling down the railway. It has incredible power. When it hits something, it usually destroys it.
Now, try to imagine that same train without a track to run on. It couldn’t get enough speed to do any damage. It would simply get stuck in the dirt.
Goals are the track that allow our relationship to move forward.
Question is: How do we set goals that actually work for us as a couple?
Start With Why
Simon Sinek is famous for his book, Start With Why. https://amzn.to/2Qba0H2
The WHY is the purpose, cause, or belief that drives every organization and every person’s individual career. Why does your company exist? Why did you get out of bed this morning? And why should anyone care?
I would add to this list of questions: Why are you married?
It’s not a trick question. Certainly not one you should take lightly.
Knowing your why is essential if you want a happy, healthy relationship.
To be honest, most couples answer this with something like:
- Because I am attracted to her (him).
- He is nice to me.
- We get along great.
- We have similar interest.
This list is endless. But it’s wrong. Perhaps I should say, ‘inadequate.’
That’s NOT the reason you are married. Or it shouldn’t be. It may have been the reason you were attracted to each other, but your why is bigger. Broader. More philosophical. But don’t let that scare you. It simply means you believe you have a higher purpose connected to your relationship than just being together because you like each other.
Don’t get me wrong, liking each other is important. Super important. But it’s not enough. Not if you believe there is order and purpose in the universe. Which I do.
My wife and I built this website as part of our why. Our purpose is to help couples navigate marriage so it can be the wonderful thing it was meant to be.
We often say we want to help people build ‘the marriage they desire and deserve.’
Those are significant, important words to us. We don’t take them lightly.
That’s part of our why. It’s not the only part, but it is a big part. Especially as it relates to this site.My wife and I built this website as part of our why. Our purpose is to help couples navigate marriage so it can be the wonderful thing it was meant to be.To help people build ‘the marriage they desire and deserve.’ Click To Tweet
Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Marriage Goals
What is your purpose? Do you believe you are together for a reason? That there is some bigger picture and purpose for your relationship?
I hope so. Knowing your why unlocks more for (and in) your relationship.
Amazing things happen when you discover there is a bigger picture for your marriage.
It gives you staying power. Creates deeper intimacy. Provides security and promotes a happier experience.
If you haven’t discovered your marriage why, I encourage you to take time to think about it. Talk about it with your spouse. Jot down your ideas.
It will be one of the most beneficial exercise you’ve ever done for your relationship.
How To Set Relationship Goals
Once you’ve defined the big picture, it’s time to build a bridge to get there.
This is called ‘reverse engineering.’ Where you start with the end in mind and create steps to get where you want to be. To do this you must know where you want to be when in the end.
If you haven’t clearly done this, go back to ‘start with why’ and work on that.
If you have your end goal clear, let’s reverse engineer it.
To do this, it’s easier to start with questions.
Two ways to do this:
1. The first way is to look at the final result and ask, ‘What needs to happen right before this final stage?’
I’ll use a financial illustration to help this become clear. (I intentionally don’t want to use a relationship goal; it’s important for you to create your own and not replace it with my example. So let’s use finances…)
At the final stage you want to leave your children with a nice inheritance of land and property.
Ask yourself, ‘What happens right before that?’ The answer is not, you die. Seriously, what has to happen before you can leave land to your children? Answer, you have to own land.
What has to happen before you can own land? You need to purchase land.
What has to happen in order for you to purchase land? You have money to invest in the property.
What’s before that? You must live on a budget and set aside resources to purchase property.
I think you get the point. Keep asking, ‘What has to happen for that to happen?’ As you keep moving backward, you reverse engineer your dreams and create goals to accomplish them.
2. The second way is to simply ask, ‘What will it take for me to reach that dream?’
Make a list of everything you can think of. Let your mind run wild. Dream on paper then ask what steps you will have to take to reach that dream.
This becomes your goal list. Once you have it, then you create a plan of action to accomplish it. You fill in the blanks with steps you have to take to reach that goal.
By the way, I learned a lot about goals from Zig Ziglar. His program on goals is the best there is. You can apply those lessons to any and every area of your life. If you are interested in getting a copy, scroll down to the resource section of this article. There is a link to his Goals program. Heads up: I am an affiliate for this product because I believe in it.
What Are Some Good Marriage Goals?
Most people think of setting money goals (be out of debt by 20??, buy a house, upgrade our junk car, etc). These goals are not bad. In fact, every couple should have financial goals they are working toward. It keeps you focused and helps you stick to the budget.
In terms of goals that make your marriage better, I like to think of them as things I can do to enrich the life of my spouse. Or things that make our relationship stronger. They are based more on emotional connection and bonding.
We will call these Connection Goals.
They look more like this:
1. Commit to turn off social media and talk for 1 hour a day. (or whatever amount of time you agree on)
Social media should be something that connects us. Reality is it often disconnects us. We text, share, scroll and comment with others, while ignoring the people we are with. Doesn’t make sense. Turn it off so you can build the most valuable relationship in your life – your marriage.
End of rant…let’s move on.Social media should be something that connects us. Yet, We text, share, scroll and comment with others, while ignoring the people we are with. Click To Tweet
2. Take a vacation at least twice a year.
Even if you can’t afford (time or money) to take a major vacation for a week or longer, you can schedule mini-vacations. The point is to create time for your marriage. Just the two of you.
Short getaways help you reconnect and detox from the demands of work, raising kids, and life in general. We all need it. Carve it out and get it on the calendar.
3. Have a date night once a week.
Again, this doesn’t imply dropping $100 on a night out. It’s okay to keep it simple. The point is to spend time together.
4. Start a new ritual.
Amy Hartle suggested this one.
Rituals are important for families. They provide stability and routine that brings order to the chaos of life.
One family I know has a game night every Thursday. No TV. No social media. Phones removed from the family room. This was their night together as a family.
My first thought was ‘the kids must hate this!’ On the contrary, when I talked with them, it was one of the highlights of their week. Ironically, they were teenagers. It demonstrates the power of bonding as a family.
5. Kiss every day for at least 2 minutes. (or whatever time you choose. Minimum of 90 Seconds).
Never underestimate the power of physical connection.
Since we are a composite of spirit, soul and body (heart, mind, and emotions), each part is intricately linked. Connected. You can’t take a knife and separate your thoughts from your feelings. Though they are distinct, they are interconnected.
This implies that when we touch physically, something happens emotionally. Many studies validate this. Kissing does wonders for your marriage. LIN
Note: Your list may be different and have different time-tables based on your schedule. This is meant to give you clarification on the types of goals that help you connect.
Take an evening and discuss goals with your spouse. Make a list of 10 things you want to work toward. Write them down. Set a timeline. And come up with a plan of action to achieve them.
You’ll be amazed at how the exercise alone will energize your relationship. Accomplishing the goals is just the added bonus.
Goals Around Principles That Govern Your Marriage
They look like this:
1. Agree to always keep talking.
Communication is one of the keys that make marriage work. As long as you continue to interact with your spouse you will never disconnect from the relationship
2. Never demean or criticize one another.
This doesn’t mean you have to agree. It means you know how to fight fair. Keep the issues the issue and not your spouse’s character.
3. Always make life-decisions together.
Nothing will undermine confidence and erode a marriage quite like failure to include your spouse in major life transactions.
Married, yet living single never works. It undermines the very nature of marriage.
A healthy marriage is one built on teamwork, companionship and partnership.Married, yet living single never works. It undermines the very nature of marriage.A healthy marriage is one built on teamwork, companionship and partnership. Click To Tweet
4. Always dream together.
One way to keep your marriage fresh is to share your dreams with your spouse.
Neurons and synapses fire when we dream. It releases crazy endorphins that make us feel good, which in turn makes us love deeper.
As you can tell, these goals revolve around the principles that will govern your life. These are merely examples. Your challenge is to come up with 5 -10 principles to rule your marriage.
Watch this video to understand how all your goals fit together and what should be the center.
How To Set Goals As A Couple: A Practical Plan
Every couple needs to find their own rhythm, but here are few practical steps that will help you create a goals list with your spouse.
1. Set aside time to talk, discuss, brainstorm and think.
Your goals need to be specific to your dreams. To get on the same page, you need to take time to dream together, so you can share your heart with one another.
This takes time. It may even need to be done over a several days. Once you know what YOU want as an individual, come together as a couple and talk about those dreams.
Make sure you take turns sharing your goals. I recommend letting your spouse start, hearing them out and encouraging them. Then take your turn to read your list.
Also, keep this time private. No kids running around, phones chirping for your attention, television in the background.
Treat this time as sacred. Because it is.
2. List your goals into categories.
The common categories are:
This is a popular way of separating and clarifying goals. It’s not my preferred method, but it works for most people.
The main idea is dissect your goals and find common themes. Then put those goals into their own category.
For example, if you have several goals related to staying healthy, create a category for that and put them there. It makes it easier to manage your goals and allows you to lump some together if necessary.
3. Break them down.
Once your goals are in the proper categories, it’s time to chunk them down into manageable parts.
I look at like this, a vision (dream) is the big picture. It’s the final destination (kinda); where you want to wind up. It describes what you want life to look like in your future.
Goals are the pieces that comprise the dream. It’s a micro-version of the big picture applied to specific areas of life.
Let’s take a very rudimentary example. Your big picture is to be happy. Goals would be to be happy about your finances, to be healthy physically, and so on.
I hope you realize that ‘happy’ is a terrible goal or dream for your life. I use it only to make a point. Happiness is the result of something; not the goal of something.
4. Reverse engineer your goals.
Reread the part above where I discussed how this works if needed.
When we start with the picture of what life looks like at an appointed time (the future), then we chunk it down so we know what that looks like in each area of life, the next step is to figure out what steps to take to get there.
This is one of the most important steps. It’s one thing to have a dream; it’s another to have a plan on achieving that dream.
This is the planning stage.
For example, if one of your goals as a couple is to exercise together so you can lose weight, set a workout schedule and write down your weight loss goals. Now, put a date to it.
This locks you in to the routine that will help you achieve your goal. Wishing won’t do it. A plan will.
James Clear says we need to drop goals and set routines. I agree. If your goals don’t become routines, you are wishing. A wish is not a dream or a goal. Because it has no teeth. You need goals with teeth that bite into your dreams and hold on.
If you haven’t read Jame’s book, Atomic Habits, you need to. It offers one of the clearest paths to moving forward in your life. [Heads up: This is an affiliate link]
This is the key to weight loss programs. Most all programs work if you work them.
Write down your plan so you can measure your progress.
5. Set follow-up meetings.
Review your goals to make sure you stay on track.
I used to refer to this as accountability, but that sounds too formal and controlling. Plus, accountability only works if you WANT to be accountable. It’s a great idea, but doesn’t often fit in marriage. It implies you are in control and in charge. Not a good mindset when creating shared goals.
The goal of setting goals is to move forward in your marriage. Giving your relationship the tracks (like the train) to run on. To do this, you need to measure your progress.
These follow-up times can be weekly, monthly or quarterly. Anything longer than that is often counter-productive.
Remember, the goal is providing your marriage a destination where you want to arrive, an understanding of how it affects every area of your life, and a plan on how to get there. That’s it in a nutshell.Goals provide your marriage a destination where you want to arrive, an understanding of how it affects every area of your life, and a plan on how to get there. Click To Tweet
Wrapping It Up
I began by asking a few questions: Do you have Marriage goals? Even know how to set them? Or use them?
I set out to answer those key questions. Now it’s your turn.
What are your marriage goals?
Quick links to key parts of this article:
- Why Are Marriage Goals Important?
- Start With Why
- How To Set Relationship Goals
- What Are Some Good Marriage Goals?
- How To Set Goals As A Couple: A Practical Plan
- 1. Set aside time to talk, discuss, brainstorm and think.
If you want help creating your vision and goal list as a couple, I recommend the following programs:
Goals by Zig Ziglar
The Healthy Marriage Quiz
If you want specific help for your marriage, or you want to know your healthy marriage score, take the marriage quiz. You’ll get immediate access with suggestions on how to improve your relationship.
If you are having serious marriage struggles, we recommend starting with ‘Save the Marriage System‘ by Lee Baucom.