Marriage is one of the toughest, most rewarding, most difficult, and most amazing things we experience as human beings. The idea of spending the majority of your life with one person by your side is both terrifying and beautiful, and you’ll never want to work harder at anything else.
Setting goals within your marriage is a great way to keep yourself on the same page with your partner. Whether big or small, marriage goals help align your values, displaying your dreams and showcasing what’s important to you as a couple.
If you’re newly married or close to becoming married, determining your marriage goals now can be a great way to start your relationship off on a good note. If you’ve been married for some time now, perhaps setting new marriage goals will refresh your relationship and straighten out some blurred lines that have developed over time.
Either way, there’s never a wrong time to set new benchmarks in your marriage.
The Benefits of Setting Marriage Goals
In a world where the “self” is made out to be the most important thing in our lives, it can feel easier to set personal goals rather than goals with or for your spouse. However, if someone plays as big a role in your life as that of husband or wife, you should certainly aim a large amount of your effort towards them.
Setting marriage goals can have seriously positive effects on your marriage. You may even be surprised to see just how much of an impact they can make. Let’s take a closer look at those impacts.
Setting goals in your marriage helps you and your partner to consistently and continuously move forward, which is far superior to the alternative of moving backward, or even staying stagnant. The idea is that your relationship improves, progresses, and grows over time. Goals help you achieve this growth because you’re both striving to reach something together.
In establishing goals together, you and your spouse must rely on one another. You count on them to support you through this goal, while they trust that you will follow through on your decision.
In acting together to achieve something, you’re building up the levels of trust in your relationship. If you’re married, you certainly know how important trust is in a successful relationship.
Use goal setting to show that your commitments together and towards one another are important enough to keep your word and have their back.
There are not very many gifts you can give your spouse that are better than your ability to be self-aware. It can be incredibly disheartening and frustrating when your spouse can’t see the things that you see, such as negative actions or hurtful behavior.
When you set goals, you kind of force yourself to be self-aware; that’s the only way you will ever achieve those goals. Becoming more self-aware not only helps you achieve your goals, but it aids you in being able to recognize your faults and mistakes.
This recognition and awareness can be such a relief for a spouse who maybe feels like they are the only ones seeing negative behavior and working towards correcting it. Seeing your faults and making efforts to fixing them shows great love and commitment.
Making your priorities clear to your partner is such an important piece of marriage. Your spouse wants to know that you have your priorities straight—that you know what’s important not only in your personal life but in your life as a couple.
When you set goals together, you are making a point of saying that you share these priorities and you take them seriously enough to write them down and take real steps towards achieving them.
This can be a huge encouragement to your partner, who may not necessarily know your priorities. It can also help you figure out undecided priorities in your own life, and when you figure out yourself, it’s easier to let your partner in.
Your marriage goals should be very intentional. In our personal lives, while we try to do the same, sometimes our goals are a little shallow with not a whole lot of meaning to them. This shouldn’t be the case in your marriage.
If you’re having trouble assessing what is really important in your marriage and how you should focus your goals, you can always go back to the three main points of importance: relationship goals, financial goals, and family goals.
Some of the top reasons for divorce in the United States have to do with unhealthy or non-existent relationship goals. This includes poor communication, undefined expectations, lack of intimacy, and constant arguing.
All of these things are problems that can be solved by setting goals. Your goals can help both of you focus on improving your communication. Set objectives and rules like no yelling, no interrupting, and a promise to view every situation with understanding rather than defensiveness and aggression.
Your relationship goals can extend to other areas as well. Set goals about household chores or personal habits. Perhaps your husband leaves the toilet seat up, and that just drives you nuts. It may seem small, but something as simple as him aiming to be more thoughtful in that area can make a big difference.
Consider expanding these goals to things like in-laws and friendships. Maybe your goals will be to develop a deeper relationship with your husband’s parents or getting to know their friends better. These things can be very important to your spouse, and your efforts will be extra meaningful to them.
They say money is the root of all evil, and in a marriage, this is especially true. Experts say that money is one of the top reasons for divorce and animosity in a marriage. The stress, fear, and distrust that comes along with money cause fights and resentment, which can ultimately lead to the demise of a marriage.
This is why it is so important to set goals in terms of finances. Maybe, for now, your goal is just to start talking about it. Even in a marriage setting, discussing things like bills and paychecks can be an uncomfortable topic. Start by making it a goal to start talking about it more and making it comfortable.
Everyone comes from different backgrounds and lifestyles. Perhaps your husband’s family was fairly well-off, and they never had to scrounge to pay bills or buy groceries. Your family may have been just the opposite—very frugal and careful with every dollar that came in and went out.
When you combine those two backgrounds, you can run into some serious trouble. It’s important to discuss how each of you views money and then come to a compromise where you can set serious financial goals. Your first goal may be to set a realistic budget.
Financial goals can also go beyond each paycheck to future dreams. If you both want to own a house in the future, you need to talk about that goal and the objectives that are going to get you there. If your goal is a nice vacation getaway, you need to figure out the steps you will have to take to reach that benchmark.
There are many common mistakes that couples make regarding finances. Take a look at this list. If you can say any of these are concerns in your marriage, then you should probably consider setting some financial goals.
- You have separate bank accounts
- You frequently disagree about lifestyles
- You put a great focus on salary differences
- One of you is a spender, and one of you is a saver
- You hide money in a secret account
- Your financial expectations control you
- You can’t commit to a budget
All of these are very common factors in marriages, and the longer they go unaddressed, the more of a burden they become. A marriage is a partnership, and money is not an exception to that fact.
While this is probably something you should have discussed before getting married, it’s possible that you’re married and have never discussed family goals. Family goals is a far-reaching term that can address various things.
For example, have you nailed down your goals concerning children? Do both of you want children, and if so, how many? What’s your time frame? These are vital goals to talk about because kids are a big deal. In some cases, whether or not someone wants kids can be a deal breaker in a relationship.
Another family goal to consider is how you want to raise your family. What things are important to you? Parenting goals fall into this category. What values do you want to instill in your offspring? Do you value quality time together, religion, accomplishments? Setting these goals before you start your family will greatly help you later down the line.
You may also want to consider your extended family. Maybe one of you has a sick parent, and you want to set your goals towards being able to help them as they age. Perhaps one of you has a goal of living near family at a certain point in life. These are very important things to consider and discuss with one another, as some of them may require sacrifice and compromise.
How to Succeed
If we’re all being honest, we have all definitely set goals that we never achieved. It happens; life gets in the way, the excuses pile up, and other things become more important.
But when it comes to marriage, these goals need to be our top priority. So, how can we make them happen unlike some of our other failed and forgotten personal goals?
Write it Down
Studies show that physically writing things down helps us remember them better. The first step to achieving your goal is to remember that you set the goal in the first place.
Not only does writing things down help you remember, but you can put that piece of paper somewhere that you’ll see it often. Write your marriage goals on a piece of paper and put it up on your fridge where you and your spouse will both see it several times a day.
Write it on a sticky note and post it on your computer screen or your bathroom mirror. You could even set a daily reminder on your phone. Putting it down in writing will help to solidify your commitment and serve as a constant motivator to put the work in.
Help Each Other
When people set personal goals, they often times like to find someone to relay their goal to and act as an accountability partner. This person consistently reminds you of your goals and pushes you to achieve them.
For example, you want to get yourself in shape, so not only do you write down your goal, but you have your best friend push you to go to the gym every day. Whenever you say you don’t feel like it, she tells you to go anyway.
The great thing about marriage goals is that you already have a built-in accountability partner. Help each other out through these goals. Be supportive and motivating—but never guilt-trip them. As a married couple, you should be supporting each other through life already. Work together in your marriage goals to reach ultimate success.
Keep a Positive Attitude
It’s easy to become discouraged when things don’t go exactly how we pictured in our heads. And this is a frequent occurrence in marriage because there are two people in the mix. Sure, you may have planned out what you thought was the perfect way to address a situation, but your spouse’s response wasn’t what you saw in your head.
The same goes for our marriage goals. As much as you and your partner discuss your goals and develop plans to reach them, you can’t guarantee that everything will go according to schedule. You may find that it’s harder to develop certain habits or get rid of old ones than you expected.
Rather than focusing on the negatives and what’s going wrong, stay positive and keep working at it. A positive attitude can do a lot of good—not just for you, but for your spouse as well. On a day when they’re feeling like a failure, your positive attitude might just be what lifts their spirits back up.
Set Realistic Goals
There’s a difference between a challenging goal and an unrealistic goal. Setting goals that are quite frankly unattainable is setting both you and your spouse up for failure—and nobody likes to be a failure, especially in a marriage.
Make sure the goals you and your partner choose are realistic for both of you. For example, if you want to fight less, you shouldn’t make your goal never to fight. You’re going to fight—that’s the reality of the situation.
Instead, aim for taking steps towards working out your fights in a healthier, more manageable way. Set goals such as no yelling during a fight or trying to avoid using hurtful words. Commit to never going to bed angry or never interrupting one another during an argument.
These are much more realistic goals as opposed to never fighting, ever. Your failures will discourage you, but your successes will be something to celebrate together, thus strengthening your marriage overall.
As we just mentioned, successes are something to celebrate. Acknowledging the success of you and your partner within your marriage is something that will make you both happy.
Imagine achieving one of your goals and having your spouse say absolutely nothing about it. That definitely wouldn’t feel good and would be very disappointing and discouraging, like your goal meant nothing to them.
The same goes for your shared goals. Celebrating the successes is apart of growing together and strengthening your bond.
If this is your first time trying to sit down and set goals with your spouse, there’s a good chance you both find it difficult to even think of goals to set. Don’t panic – this is certainly normal, and we’re here to help.
Take a look at some of these suggested goals for marriages. Once you’ve read through these and completed them, you may find it easier to think of more personalized goals for your relationship.
Many couples love the idea of setting up specific and intentional times of togetherness. In the craziness of life, it’s easy to pay this no attention. After all, you spend much of your time together anyway, right?
But, being intentional about this time is what will make all the difference. Take away life’s distractions: the phones, the television, the kids, friends, work, etc. Focus on one another with a solid effort towards intimacy, empathy, and attention.
You can spend this time where ever or however you prefer, but it should be enjoyable and distraction-free. From at home on the couch to a walk in the park or a cup of coffee at a quiet shop, your intentional one-on-one time should serve to improve your connection and emotional security.
Just as couples need to be intentional about the time they spend together, so do they need to each focus on “me time.”
If you are newlyweds or a soon-to-be-married couple, you may find it hard to believe that you could ever possibly need time away from each other. Why would you marry someone you needed space from?
The truth is, everyone needs alone time. Even if you’re not married, you’ve certainly experienced times where you didn’t want to be with family or friends or anyone; you just wanted to be with you. And that’s perfectly normal and okay!
In fact, it’s recommended. Experts say solitude helps you unwind, increase productivity, think deeply, and work through problems better. They also agree that giving yourself alone time can help you improve your relationship with others because it gives you a better understanding of who you are.
Spending every second of your free time with your spouse can sometimes feel suffocating and could lead to negativity in your relationship. Try setting the goal of spending some alone time once a week.
The longer you are married, the laxer you tend to become. In a new relationship, it’s easy to appreciate the little things because, well, they’re new. But, as time goes on, those new things become the norm and seem to fly under our radar a little more.
However, feeling appreciated is an important part of marriage. A wife who feels unappreciated may become bitter towards her spouse, causing a divide in the relationship.
A great goal for married couples to set is to demonstrate appreciation towards each other. This can be done in small ways—as small as being intentional about saying “thank you.”
Increased levels of intimacy is a very common goal for marriage, as this is one of the things that seems to be left behind when life gets busy.
There are two types of intimacy: physical and emotional. Both of these are perfect goals to set.
Physical intimacy encompasses a whole host of actions, from simple touching like hand-holding, hugging, and cuddling to kissing and sex. Without physical intimacy, our marriages can feel cold and distant. Physical intimacy brings feelings of love, comfort, and security and makes us feel wanted and connected to our partner.
Emotional intimacy also plays a huge role in our marriage. A great goal to set for your marriage is to set aside a small chunk of time every day to talk, laugh, listen, and connect with your partner on an emotional level. Hear their struggles and share yours. Tell them about your day or ask them about theirs.
Both of these goals should be daily, as these are key items in marriage.
Important Things to Remember
It may help you to keep a few specific things in mind when you are your spouse talk about setting goals within your marriage. Remember these tidbits, and you may find the process much smoother and easier.
There is Always Something to Work On
No marriage is perfect. We may feel that our relationship is on track and that everything is good, and that may be true, but there is always something that we can improve upon.
Keep this in mind when you delve into setting goals. If your partner approaches you on the topic, your response should never be “I have nothing to work on.” Adopting that mindset is asking for trouble.
If you can’t think of anything right away, take a couple of days to put some serious thought in. Even small goals and improvements count—after all, they say it’s the little things.
You’re in this Together
Sometimes our goals can frustrate and discourage us. We often lack the patience it takes, especially when we want to accomplish something quickly. When this happens with our personal goals, there’s only one person to blame, and that’s ourselves.
However, in a marriage, two people are working towards a goal. So, when things don’t seem to be going as great as you hoped, there’s another person in the mix that you can focus your blame on.
Remember that the two of you are in this together. You’re not fighting against each other in this race towards the goal; you are a team collaborating on the same project. Don’t point fingers or direct blame at your spouse, but rather talk things out and make a plan to help one another.
It can be frustrating to feel like you’re the only one working towards your goal but getting angry or annoyed won’t help. Open communication is key, as well as remembering that your spouse is not the enemy.
Along those same lines comes patience. We frequently desire instant gratification. It is easy to fall into the trap and lie that if we declare our goals out loud or write them down, they’re magically going to happen right away.
Let me fill you in on a little secret: saying “I will be more affectionate towards my wife” will not instantly make everything better in that area. It takes time, a conscious effort, and patience.
It’s understandable to want things to instantly get better, especially within our marriage. But it’s just the plain truth that things don’t happen unless we make them happen. Have patience with your partner, but also with yourself. Do the best you can and understand that they are, too.