We’ve all heard it. “Marriage takes work.” “Marriage is the hardest thing you’ll ever do.”
As someone new to being married, I agree. It does take work, but I’m of the mindset right now it doesn’t have to be the hardest thing I ever do.
Before getting married, MaryBeth and I knew our marriage has to be a priority and we have to be intentional about it. And that’s exactly what we’re doing.
You can’t just get married, come home from the honeymoon and then operate on autopilot. Simply living in the same house, having meals together, and hanging out when you have time is not being intentional and is not a plan. If this is your plan, eventually you will hit a mountain and your chances of survival are slim.
So, why do so many people do this? We don’t do this in our careers. We don’t do this with our best friends. Successful parents don’t do this with their kids. Instead, people wake up every day, go to work, and do their job. Parents wake up and start parenting. A”best friend” didn’t just happen. It took effort to grow that relationship.
Marriage is no different. And one of the best ways to strengthen your marriage is to goal set together.
When you got married, as the preacher most likely said, you became “one.” Shared goals help maintain that oneness. Here’s how to do this.
1. Goal setting should encompass these categories: Family, Social, Financial, Intellectual, Career, Physical and Spiritual. Each person should write down specific, measurable and realistic goals for each category. Start with annual goals. Save longer range goal setting for later once you get this down.
2. Dedicate 30-45 minutes to share your goals and discuss them. Do not criticize the other person’s goals. Goal setting can be difficult for some people because they’re most likely revealing aspects of themselves they’ve never shared before.
Be supportive. The process of revealing thoughts and aspirations to a supportive spouse is incredibly powerful. This step can do great things for your marriage or it can damage it if you handle it poorly.
3. Write down the goals you have in common and discuss why they are important to each of you. At this point, you’ve revealed very important ideas and thoughts. Discussing it leads to more revelation and further emotional connection.
4. Discuss some individual goals you’d like to achieve together. The more the better. Why? Simple. The more important things you do together, the closer you become. Also, it keeps you both moving in the same direction and growing together rather than apart.
5. Come up with shared goals. For instance, this year, of the many financial goals we set, MaryBeth and I set a financial goal to fund a second Roth IRA. We also set social goals to have dinner or brunch with specific couples, a family goal to have a weekly date night and a physical goal to run a couple of half marathons. The list goes on and on.
6. Write down your shared goals and hang them up where you’ll both see them daily. We listed our individual and shared goals in the same document, printed it and hung it on the refrigerator. This way we can monitor the other’s progress with individual goals and cheer them on, as well as pat ourselves on the back as a couple for knocking out shared goals.
This step also helps keep one another accountable. For instance, we’re weak when it comes to family goals like getting a will done. That goal has been staring us both down all year, and we’re finally doing something about it. If it wasn’t hanging on the refrigerator, we probably wouldn’t be addressing it and it would carry over into 2012, keeping us from doing something else.
2012 is almost here. Now is the time to start this process so as a couple you’re ready to tackle the new year in a new way.
Question: Do you goal set with your spouse? What benefits would you add to the list above?