I have always found that when I put something in writing I hold myself more accountable to achieving it. AND I remember it better too! Plus, it helps me prioritize the things that matter to me in each stage of life. And when I prioritize things, I use my time more intentionally.
So when this time of year comes my husband and I make a list of goals we’d like to work towards and achieve during the year. Until this year, most of our goals have been focused on our own physical health, spiritual growth, giving of our time and money, and of course paying off debt. But this year we decided to do something a little different in addition to those things – we decided to set some marriage goals as well.
We figured if we’re going to prioritize health, growth, giving, and managing debt with yearly goals, then why wouldn’t we be just as intentional with our marriage?
Now maybe you’re thinking it seems a little silly to be writing down goals for your marriage. Maybe you are wondering if it’ll take the spontaneity out of things. But the thing is WHEN, NOT IF, WHEN we get caught up in the busyness of life, our marriage can become not so important anymore. You can try and deny it but it’s true. Our marriages quickly fall to the bottom of the list in our society today. Whether it be because of careers, kids, or a full calendar, marriage usually doesn’t win.
I know that I have a fairly good marriage right now; however, I easily take that for granted. What seems like it could survive any storm could easily be destroyed if satan has his way. And he is ALWAYS looking for ways.
So how are you prioritizing your marriage? How are you being intentional with your spouse?
We realized after Eden was born that it was much easier to be with her than without her. But we also quickly realized that we needed that time without her. And scripture agrees, God first [Deuteronomy 6:5], spouse second [Ephesians 5:22-25,31], then the children [Proverbs 22:6]. So we spent some time praying about what God wanted for our marriage and that is how all of this developed.
Before getting started we decided on three themes for our marriage goals: communication, intimacy, and spirituality. The categories worked great for us but we also made sure to pay attention to each other’s love language. This allowed us to make the goals more specific to what feeds each of us. If you aren’t familiar with The 5 Love Languages you can find the book HERE.
Another resource we took into consideration is the His Needs/Her Needs list, which you can find HERE. We combined them and ranked them on our own and then compared our lists (1 being most important and 10 being least important to us). This helped to determine what each of us personally value highest in our relationship, verses what may not matter so much. We found that we differed on many of these things, which is completely normal. But it helped to see what things we needed to make a higher priority for the other person. Marriage is about sacrifice and serving one another’s needs in love. Over time this has started to come naturally for us, although it hurt a little at first. And most definitely still does on occasion.
So, if you are thinking marriage goals may be a good idea for you and your spouse here is what I’d say…
Ultimately by putting God first, you will be drawn closer to your spouse. And satan isn’t going to like you trying to be more intentional with your marriage, so you need to guard it in prayer, first.
if you decide to add a few more goals along the way, then great!
Keep things attainable…
Are they weekly, yearly, or daily goals? You want a good mix because otherwise you may end up overwhelming each day and/or week with goals. You want to leave time for rest too!
Be all in…
It’s obviously best if you are BOTH in this TOGETHER; however, scripture says, “Wives in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may have been won over without words by the behavior of their wives.” (1 Peter 3:1, NIV) In these situations we have to love our spouse in the same way that Jesus loves and pursues us on a daily basis.
Ask yourselves these questions –
What are the specific activities you need to make a higher priority?
Sex? Date nights? A getaway without the kids? Get it on the calendar! Yes, even sex! Schedule it…1, 2, 3, or however many times a week.
Where do you want to grow?
What are activities that would spur that growth? And are there things you need to stop doing in order to grow in those areas? We know that being in a small group together plays a big roll in our spiritual growth so we made it one of our goals to be involved in one year round. Also, prayer and devotional time together is really hard to come by in such a busy life, so this year we are scheduling it weekly.
What are you doing when you are apart to let the other person know you are thinking about them?
I’ve found that this is especially important with sex. I was at a conference 2 years ago and the speaker, Jim Burns, said something that I will never forget: “Foreplay should start BEFORE you get to the bedroom.” That includes HOURS before you get to the bedroom; like messaging your spouse something sweet during the day, complimenting them, physically touching them/ kissing them often, surprise them with flowers, etc.. I think you get the gist. If you aren’t making the effort before you get to the bedroom than your expectations may be a little out of whack.
Are you being intentional with the alone time you have together (even if you aren’t on a date)?
This is something Ben and I struggle with, because like most of America we get sucked into binge watching one thing after the other on Netflix. It’s fun most nights but we decided to dedicate one night each week this year to shutting off the T.V. We can use that time to do a devotional together, work on a project together, or play cards. Either way we will be talking, flirting, and laughing together instead of having our eyes locked on the T.V.. Who knows, maybe we will even have an unplanned argument to work through…I never said we were perfect.
Are you actively building relationships with at least one other couple that shares some common interests?
Is this a couple you can look to for wisdom, friendship, and truth in love? This is something that God has blessed us greatly with. And fairly quickly too after our move! These are the types of friendships I prize. I find that no matter if I am spending time together with the couple or just one on one with the wife, I feel equally encouraged.
Research says that it takes 21 days to form a habit. I don’t know about you but I really want specific actions that will encourage my husband and strengthen our marriage to become habits. I want to continuously learn to love him in new and different ways. And that takes intentionality and practice.
So what do you want for your marriage, and how are you going to get there?
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Deuteronomy 6:5, NIV
“Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church…Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself…For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” – Ephesians 5:22-23,25,28,31, NIV
“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6, NIV
“Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.” 1 Chronicles 16:11, NIV
“Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you. Accept instruction from his mouth and lay up his words in your heart…You will pray to him and he will hear you, and you will fufill your vows.” Job 22:21-22, 27, NIV