I’m going to let you guys in on a little secret that has set us up to be successful in our communication with each other since day one: GOAL SETTING IN MARRIAGE.
Some of you are reading what I just said and thinking- “What in the world? I have enough on my plate just trying to set my personal goals, why would I want to add a totally different list specific to my marriage?”. Maybe having a better marriage or having more dates nights is already on your personal goals list, so you feel like you don’t need to make other goals together. I’m here to tell you WHY I wholeheartedly believe in sitting down with your spouse to make goals, HOW I believe it can change your communication, your marriage, and your life this year, and WHAT you need to do to get started!
Last year, we decided to purchase the goal setting guide for couples from our friends at Cultivate What Matters. Lara Casey says this best, so I am going to quote her directly here! “Why set goals as a couple? Three of the biggest complaints couples have about their relationships are poor communication, not being understood, and not feeling like they’re on the same page. That’s where good goal setting comes in! Setting goals together will help you work as team, improve communication by expressing your dreams and challenges, provide accountability, and deliver a great sense of unity and connectedness when you make progress together. Good goals can change everything”. BOOM- Lara Casey for the win! This statement embodies exactly how we feel about goal setting in our marriage- and we encourage you to give it a go! Below, I’m going to share some of the basic framework we use in our goal setting, and tell you real-life examples from our own marriage.
This year for our marriage goal setting, we decided a little getaway was just what we needed to feel refreshed and inspired while planning our year. What better place to escape the Florida heat than snowy Vermont?! On a whim we decided to use up some of those credit card points we’d been hoarding to book the cutest little boutique hotel called the Taconic in the heart of Manchester, Vermont. We got a sweet little room with mountain views and a fireplace, grabbed some wine on night one, and celebrated! We believe the goal setting process should ALWAYS begin with celebrating where you’ve been and what you’ve accomplished. I repeat- step one should ALWAYS BE to celebrate!!! As human beings we are so quick to think of the bad things that have happened- so this exercise will really help you cultivate gratitude (you already know we’re big on this if you read our blog about tips we use to be grateful every day!), and celebrate all the past year has brought to you as opposed to thinking “Oh- it’s new years and I have a LOT of improving to do…”. Starting out any exercise feeling overwhelmed with changes you want or need isn’t going to lead you in the right direction.
After our night of celebration, we woke up early the next day and decided to dig into the goals right away. For us, we have to start with coffee and some prayers 🙂 So I encourage you to do whatever it is in the morning that helps you feel pumped and ready before you dive in!
We always begin marriage goal setting by sharing our personal goals first. This way we can use those as a guide to keep us focused on what matters to us both individually, and then we move onto the big questions for marriage.
When I say big questions, I’m talking plans for buying a home, kids, travel plans, yearly budget… we get into it ALL on goal setting! Don’t be afraid to bring up those big, sometimes uncomfortable questions and dreams. The discomfort is really where the magic happens and you can dig deeper with your spouse. Some of the most important questions we asked ourselves-
1. What can we do to make our marriage a top priority in both of our lives?
2. Where do we see ourselves one year from now? How about 10? 20? Write out dreams and hopes.
3. How can we encourage one another in our personal goals for 2019?
4. How can we pray for one another this year?
These are just a few of the most important questions, and we encourage you to come up with questions that are specific to your own lives and marriages to add here. If you need more suggestions or would like to see our full list, feel free to email us directly and we are happy to share!
After we work through all the biggest questions, the final steps are creating a vision for our marriage (an actual vision sentence.. like a big corporation ha!) and then writing out baby steps we can take to accomplish each goal.
An example of baby steps from one of our own personal goals looks like this:
Keep our marriage a top priority in both of our lives all year long.
1. Going on a date every single Monday! From going on a long walk to a full day at the beach or a garden, we commit to doing something each and every week to focus on us as a couple.
2. Putting phones on airplane mode between 10PM and 9AM. This time should be for us as a couple each and every day to talk, pray together, laugh… We don’t want anyone or anything competing for that time and attention!
3. Work through the “You and Me” app . (An app suggested by a friend that has you read a book and answer questions together that strengthen your relationship)
We created these steps for each and every goal, and it makes a big difference breaking things down into something manageable!
After discussing all the big questions for hours- we decided our marriage vision is: “To be pleasing to God, to be happy and joyful with one another, to be inspiring and encouraging to other couples.” These few little words sum up all the most important things to us this year- And we have some exciting steps and plans to bring our vision to life, particularly for the couples who give us the honor of photographing their weddings!
After all was said and done we celebrated our progress by going on a snowmobiling journey and having a Thai dinner! Celebrate, celebrate, celebrate.
We are so happy we decided to take a trip to Vermont this year and worked through the steps of celebrating our 2018, sharing personal goals, asking each other the big questions for 2019, breaking goals into baby steps, creating a vision, and celebrating AGAIN! We hope this blog has given you some inspiration for goal setting in your own marriage to improve your communication all year round. We promise you won’t regret setting aside this time to fully commit to one another through 2019 and beyond- The best is yet to come, you can do it!
Justin and Ashley
P.S- if you need some tips for starting your personal goal setting, check out these three tips for setting goals. It’s never too late to begin!