By setting the best goals and relying on God to help you achieve them, you can make changes to your marriage you never thought possible.
Close your eyes and picture what you want your life to be like at the end of this year? What is your relationship like with your spouse? How is it better than it is now? What kind of life are you living? Enjoy that peaceful picture.
Now the question of the hour.
This may be a sweet dream, but how do you make it happen?
In my last blog, we looked at setting goals for your marriage and why doing so is vital to make your marriage all it is intended to be. There are lots of good reasons to make one, but I want to reiterate one of the dangers of not setting goals:
“If you don’t set specific goals for your marriage, the busyness and sin of the world can more easily pull you away. Opportunities to fall into sins that could sabotage your marriage appear more enticing to you.”
You end up sailing through life with no real destination and no guidance. The best marriages have a purpose and a plan for where they want to go as a couple.
Go back to that vision of your life in the future? Ask yourself, “What is different from the way my life and marriage are now?” Make a list of things that you picture differently. Now ask yourself, “How did it get that way?” It doesn’t just happen, you need a plan to make it a reality.
Ready to make a change? Read on, and then grab your spouse and make them read this too! Let’s get started.
Of course, setting goals for marriage is best when done with your spouse, but sometimes, it just won’t work out. One spouse may not be willing to participate. This unwillingness occurs for one of many reasons. You can still set goals for your marriage. You will only be looking specifically at what you individually can do to make improvements. Perhaps when your spouse sees the changes, they will want to try it too.
Step 1: Get alone
You want to start planning for the goal setting by yourself, and let your spouse have space to do the same. When you brainstorm ideas for goals you want to set alone first, you won’t have to worry that what you’re saying will come out wrong, or end up being something you aren’t all that concerned about. You don’t have to worry about hurting your spouse’s feelings, and you can be freer with your thoughts. You will share the best ideas with your spouse later.
Step 2: Pray
The best marriages have God at the center of them. He knows what His plan is for you and your marriage. Pray that he will guide your thoughts and give you insight into what can be done better in your relationship. You are one flesh with a divine purpose, and He knows what it will take to get you there. Psalm 25:4-5 reminds us to do this.
4 Show me the right path, O Lord;
point out the road for me to follow.
5 Lead me by your truth and teach me,
for you are the God who saves me.
All day long I put my hope in you.
Step 3: Brainstorm
The next step in the process, before you ever talk to your spouse, is to brainstorm ideas that will make your vision of your future marriage a reality.
There are many different ways to brainstorm that work for different people. One straightforward way to do this is called a mind map.
Using Mind Mapping
According to Mindmapping.com, a mind map is “an easy way to brainstorm thoughts organically without worrying about order and structure. It allows you to visually structure your ideas to help with analysis and recall.”
This is a picture of a really fancy example of a mind map that I would never expect you actually to create. It’s just cool and gives you a definite idea of how a mind map is structured.
Draw the Map
They are simple to do, though. You don’t need art skills. Just draw a circle in the middle of a piece of paper and write the main topic in it. In my case, I just wrote “Marriage Goals” inside my circle. Then I wrote four issues from the list of goal categories below around the circle and connected each of them to the central circle with a line. Please don’t try to write them all, no matter how much improvement you believe your marriage needs. You’ll never accomplish them, and you’ll just feel discouraged!
Then around each of the topics, jot down any ideas that come to your mind about those goals. Write words that specifically show what you’d like to happen, ways you think you could do it, other words and phrases that are related to the issue. Anything at all! Remember, this is just for you. Your spouse doesn’t have to see it if you don’t want to share it.
Here’s another more general guideline on how to use mind maps if you’ve never used one before.
Step 4: Get the creative juices flowing
Here are some different categories you may need to improve in your marriage to get your brain started on that mind map!
- Compassion & support
- Affection & love
- Negotiation & compromise
- Physical intimacy
- Shared interests & activities
- Household responsibility
- Spiritual life & prayer
- Financial & giving
- Companionship & Time
- Expectations clarification
- Forgiveness goals
- Ministry goals
Need some more ideas? Download our list of 23 Quality Marriage Goals You’ll Want to Steal.
Step 5: Be specific
When you finish, take a look at what you have written. Can you identify about five specific ways you’d like to improve your marriage? Write them down and get ready to share them. Be as specific as you can. Try not to write things like “I want us to communicate better.” Instead say, “I’d like to find better ways to express ourselves when we are angry.”
If you are interested in setting goals for your marriage or personal goals, using a book or journal like this one can help you get organized.
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Step 6: Set up a time
Now, set up a time to be alone, like a date night, and get ready to set some marriage goals that you will be able to keep this year. We’ll see exactly how to put all of this together next time!
Here are some linkups where you can find this blog and lots of other uplifting writings!
“mindmap” flickr photo by jean-louis zimmermann https://flickr.com/photos/jeanlouis_zimmermann/3041505235 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license