So you want to set goals together? Where does this come from? We look for achievement in all aspects of life.

  • Students strive to get good marks in college.
  • Athletes work hard to win in sports.
  • Professionals pursue advancement in their careers.

What about achievement in marriage?

As a differentiating value, Achievement means

successful performance; accomplishment; or obtaining by exertion.

In other words, achievement is about attaining a goal.

In marriage, achievement is about a husband and wife working together to set goals together and realize those shared goals.

It’s amazing that both men and women can work so hard to find and woo their life’s partner,

plan an extraordinary wedding day,

and then…

suddenly they stop!

The real opportunity for achievement begins after marriage.

Of course, there are annual events such as planning vacations, birthdays, Thanksgiving and Christmas. And there are big-ticket items such as preparing to buy/build a house.

But what about other goals, such as starting a business together, planning a family, finding new married friends, selecting a church, beginning a new hobby, building an addition to the house, organizing a family reunion, planning an extended trip around the country (or world), or any number of other goals?

A lasting marriage contains endless achievements.

Achievement means continuous goal setting, encouraging each other through the process of reaching for the goal, and the fulfillment of those goals.

Sadly, it’s not that easy. The problem is that none of this goal setting as a husband and wife comes naturally in marriage.

As individuals, we know how to set and achieve our own goals. (or at least we think we can) But having to constantly work with someone else in both goal setting, in encouraging each other , and then the mutual fulfillment of goals can be a real challenge.

This is where having a few strategies can be beneficial.

5 Ways to Set Goals Together 600x503

5 Ways to Set Goals Together in Marriage

Based on what I’ve observed in other couples, and from my own experiences in 30+ years of marriage, here are 5 ways I find can help married couples in achieving more when setting goals.

1)    Set the Vision for the Goal. Great satisfaction comes from the fulfillment of a common vision. A unified vision around a goal is very powerful.  When defining a vision, ask such questions as:

  • Why are we doing what we’re doing?
  • How are we making a positive difference in the lives of others?
  • Who all will benefit, now and in the future?
  • What do we want to get out of this?
  • What does real success look like?

If you’ve set the vision, then you have something to encourage each other in. It’s keeping a hope for that better vision front and center – it’s inspiring with hope! Set the vision, then adress the goals – set goals together.

2)    Define Responsibilities. Be clear about each of your strengths and weaknesses. Then divide and conquer to maximize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses. Also, be clear on who has decision-making authority, and respect each other’s decisions.

Remember to acknowledge and affirm your spouse’s good decisions. (tweet this!)

And when a bad decision is made – because no one is perfect – provide your full support to make it right, without any comment. When you set goals together it won’t always work out the way you’re hoping. That’s OK. Move on.

3)    Have Regular Dialogue. I’ve often said good communication is the #1 key to a healthy marriage. But what exactly does that mean? It means:

  • Talk often. And talk about everything.
  • Talk about facts.  And talk about how you feel.
  • Talk about what makes you happy. And talk about your fears.
  • And remember to always focus on the issues, not the person. If your spouse says or does something that aggravates or hurts you, then say: “When you say/do that, this is how it makes me feel…

4)    Respect Limitations. Some get very frustrated with their spouse’s limitations. But that’s because they’re thinking and acting as an individual.

There are no solo acts in a healthy marriage! (tweet this!) 

There are no solo acts in a healthy marriage

Strength in marriage comes from trust in each other. And trust comes from knowing your spouse will be patient with your limitations, shore up your weaknesses, and encourage you to keep going and try again.

5)    Offer Unconditional Love.Unconditional love is the most important element to experience in any kind of achievement in marriage. A husband or wife’s love for their spouse should always be first. Not the goal.

What good is achieving a goal if it only harms the marriage? (tweet this!)

It’s ok to sacrifice short-term achievements for the sake of preserving the relationship. A good reminder can be found in 1 Corinthians 13 where Paul writes that “Love is patient, love is kind.” He also states “If I have not love, I am nothing.” The same is true in marriage.

Encourage Goal Setting in Your Marriage

Last year we read a good book about going away for a 48-hour retreat to set goals together. It’s written by a husband and wife team, and they suggest in their book that

… Something magical happens when you take time and energy out of your hectic lives and devote it to making your union stronger. At the end of your retreat you will feel re-energized and refocused and reconnected with your partner.

~ Amanda Adams-Barney and Richard Barney

The Goal Setting Posts also includes – Intentional Growth in Your Marriage

Have you set goals together with your spouse?

What are they – how did you go about setting, and reaching those goals? Leave a comment…

Robert Ferguson is a speaker, writer and consultant with a passion for values. He and Lori are on an adventure – touring North America with their F150 and fifth wheel. Read more about Robert on the “About Us” page.