Building towards shared goals in marriage

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One of the best marriage advice we’ve ever received was that couples should start investing early in the process of their marriage by creating shared meaning, and friendship based on shared goals and dreams. The advice never really made sense to us at the time until later in marriage.

But as avid students of marriage, we now can tell you that marriages that last are ones where the couple creates shared meaning; where goals are set and met alongside each other. A healthy marriage involves building a life together where dreams are not only visualised but come to fruition with the mutual buy-in of the partners.

Developing Shared Goals is Important Because...

Purpose and Direction

It helps give you a sense of destiny and a path to a shared meaning. Why did you become a couple? What benefit would it bring to you as individuals, to you as a couple and to society now that you are together? Doing some goal setting as a couple helps to bring you back to your, “WHY” and can help you see how God can use your marriage for a better society.

Forward-looking and Intimacy

Shared goals in marriage provides the couple with something to work towards, and a reason to depend upon each other. They are a great way to grow your marriage. In the pursuit of your goals, you will spend more time together, have more conversations and create more intimate moments.

Unity

Developing shared goals will help you achieve unity in a practical sense — beyond the state of spiritual oneness. The two of you enjoined in unity become unstoppable in power and authority. Unity — being of one mind, speaking with one voice and one language — is the glue that will hold you together through life’s curveballs.

It’s important to mindful that unity is not sameness or uniformity, and oneness in marriage doesn’t mean being similar. True unity requires difference and diversity, and oneness means each one brings their difference to form the whole. Unity is distinctiveness toward the same direction to achieve the same purpose. It’s purpose-driven, not people-driven.

Minimal conflict

Having shared goals helps you keep focus on what’s important. You gain a healthy perspective. When couples have that shared dream, the inevitable ups and downs of marriage are less bothersome. Shared goals free you from potentially suffocating your marriage by elevating petty issues your partner does wrong in your eyes. You’re more focused on the bigger picture, and are less likely to sweat the small stuff.

Teamwork

Often couples have their own personal goals that are seldom communicated before marriage. While individual goals don’t necessarily have to be forsaken in marriage, it’s important to develop shared goals the couple can both work towards.

Working towards achieving a common goal as a couple trains you to approach life as a team. Instead of competing with one another, doing goal setting as a couple can help reorient you both to be on the same side. Achievements are now joint achievements and challenges are now

joint challenges. You don’t have to “win” against your spouse any more, as you’ll be pursuing the same goals.

How To Set Shared Goals?

Be open and honest with who you are individually, and where you see yourselves as a couple

When you deliberately set time aside to engage around issues you wish to pursue as shared goals, ensure you bring your total self to the party. Share your childhood (and later) dreams, and passions with each other. Of those wishes, identify areas of your life that most relate to you both and that you can both fully buy into and pursue with vigour. Also engage with where you each see your marriage in the future, and agree on one picture.

During your dreaming, brainstorming and planning process, it’s important that you both be open to what the other has to say. Dreaming and planning your life is not the time to put each other down for ideas or questions. Being open and non-critical will create an environment of respect and safety, and this is where magic can happen.

Decide on a thing

Do you have a thing you can both fully invest yourselves into? Do you enjoy rock-climbing together? Do you refuse to miss a certain social activity together? Maybe your thing is a value like generosity or hospitality or adventure. Declaring a “thing” is an important step to creating shared meaning. It won’t only help you establish and define your identity as a couple, but it can help you leave a legacy.

Define your over-all goal for each area

Why do you want to succeed in this area? What is the over-all goal you want to achieve? Think big! A key component to goal setting for couples is to know your “why”. Is it just for personal glory or vanity? This part will help make sure that you are setting goals not just for achievement’s sake but you are meaningful.

Creating rituals of connection

Commit to having few family rituals that belong exclusively to you as a couple. Most often we associate rituals with the holidays and it’s difficult to exclude family and friends from the grand events like Christmas and New Year’s Eve. But exclusive rituals can, and should, be built into your daily and weekly interactions with your beloved.

Don’t neglect yourself

All your goals shouldn’t be shared ones, nor should they all be chosen by your spouse. It’s important to have independent hopes and dreams within your marriage. Identify what you want from your year. Talk to your partner about it, and listen to his or her plans too. Then figure out a way to make it happen for yourself with your spouse’s support. In anyway, whatever your individual goal, it’s highly likely that it will benefit the marriage and family.

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