Second Key of Marriage Growth: Values and Goals

Once you have a good rhythm for communication down, it’s time to work on values and goals! This is one of my favorite keys of marriage growth, because I’m a firm believer that it gives you and your spouse a unified vision for how you want to live your life and the legacy you want to leave behind. Although you won’t agree on every decision in your marriage, your values keep you headed in the same direction and remind you of what’s important. And your goals help you focus on what you want to prioritize in each season of life.

On January 1st, Matt and I took some time to plan out our goals for the year. While I love goal-setting, my husband does it more out of his love for me than the enjoyment of it šŸ™‚ I say this to encourage the type B people out there – goal-setting can be fun, fulfilling, and draw you and your spouse closer together! Do your goal-setting in a space you both enjoy when you aren’t pressed for time, with some yummy treats or a reward at the end if you need to stay motivated. Getting on the same page for what you want to do together is crucial for unity in your marriage. Our process looked like this:

  • Start with a good breakfast and coffee together!
  • Review our goals from the previous year to determine what we want to continue or adjust
  • Break our goals up into four categories: marriage, faith, community, and responsibilities
  • Brainstorm potential goals
  • Narrow down/condense our goals
  • Make our goals SMART – more info below
  • Print out our goals and and hang them in our room

What are SMART goals? SMART stands for:

  • Specific: don’t just say, “We will get better at communicating.” Specify how you will do it, such as: “We will improve our communication by eating dinner together to talk about our day at least four nights each week.”
  • Measurable: quantify your goal to make it clear when you have achieved it.
  • Attainable: make sure that, while stretching you, your goal is achievable and that accomplishing it doesn’t depend on someone else.
  • Realistic: recognize your limits and work within them.
  • Time-based: put a deadline on your goal to make sure it gets done.

It’s important to make your goals SMART because if you keep your goals general, how will you know you have reached them? Quantifying them helps you know what you need to do to actually achieve your goals, and when you can cross them off. SMART goals also help make sure you don’t bite off more than you can chew. The great thing about setting goals is you can do them at any time – if you missed the start of the year, it’s ok! You can do them yearly, quarterly, monthly, whatever works for you and your spouse. Just start somewhere!

Journal question: What is one goal you want to work on this year with your spouse?

For further reading: The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman and Nan Silver

Do you have family values or couple goals? If so, I’d love to hear what your process is like! Rhythms of Relationship is only one week away from release, so make sure to check it out on Amazon on January 25th!

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