Jay-Z & Beyonce. William & Kate.  David & Victoria Beckham.  Barack & Michelle Obama.

Search #MarriageGoals and you’ll find hundreds of pictures of these happy couples vacationing somewhere exotic, lounging on a yacht, or just genuinely enjoying each other’s company.  It’s great to get a glimpse into the lives of these happy couples, but have you ever stopped to wonder what makes them tick behind the scenes?  How much hard work, planning, and energy went into those Instagram pics and videos?  What we get to see on social media or perhaps even with couples that we know personally is really just a very small piece of their life.  When you dig deeper into any successful relationship you’ll see that the happiness and success that is summed up in a picture comes from real planning and goal setting.  In other words, a successful marriage doesn’t just happen…they make it happen.

So the question is how do we get the most out of our marriages in an intentional way? How do marriage goals go from just a hashtag to something real and tangible?  Carlton and I asked the same questions last year about this time and we thought we had the answer.  We sat down, had a formal planning session, and talked about all the goals we wanted to accomplish in 2017.  We organized them, typed the goals up, and saved them away for safe keeping.  We were feeling great…like YEAH we have a game plan for this upcoming year.  I felt like he heard me and we were both on the same page on how we wanted to strengthen and make our marriage better.  We said 2017 is going to be our year.  But there was one small thing missing….we somehow neglected to check in on our goals throughout the year in order to hold ourselves accountable. 

Having our goals, but not holding ourselves accountable to them kept us from reaping the full benefits of creating them.  Working towards goals as a couple not only builds and strengthens your marriage, it also provides a plan and helps you stay focused.  This year as we’re planning for our marriage we will incorporate some things we learned from this past year to get more out of our goals.  Here are a few tips we plan on using:

Talk with Your Spouse:

Want to buy a new house?  Go to church more often?  Further your education?  The sky’s the limit.  This is the time where you come together, communicate, and come up with a game plan. This is the stage where we just generate ideas about what we may want to accomplish in the upcoming year – or even plan for the next 3,5, or 10 years. 

Organize Your Goals on Paper:

Now comes the fun part…capturing all of those aspirations and making sense of them.  Last year we organized ours into five categories – financial, spirituality, relationship, professional, and family goals.  These categories helped us to think about the main areas of our lives that were most important to us.  Don’t forget to have fun, all your goals don’t have to be so serious.  Maybe you want to get fit together and train for a marathon or take up a hobby as a couple.  Marriage is supposed to be a FUN adventure! 

Print and Display:

It’s hard to keep up with your goals if you don’t even know where they are.   Keep them posted on the fridge or some other visible place as a daily reminder of what you’re working towards in your marriage.

Make Sure to Review Them Together Periodically:

This is the step we didn’t do so great with this past year.  When we recently dusted off our goal list, we looked at some of them and said ‘How’d that one get there?’.   What good is a goal that you don’t hold yourself accountable to meeting?  Yes it’s a nice exercise to put lofty thoughts down on paper but unless you check in on your progress towards them over the year, it’s much less likely that you will accomplish them.  To avoid that pitfall this time around we are going to set up intentional time each month to review the progress towards our goals together. 

You don’t have to wait until January 1st to make a New Year’s resolution for your marriage. I challenge you to take the time now to sit down with your spouse to create your own #MARRIAGEGOALS

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