Future Forecast

Don't let the humdrum day-to-day routine drag your marriage into a slump. Refresh your relationship by revisiting (and refreshing) your goals. Here's how to set goals with your partner in nine steps.

Couple on couch

Recapture your honeymoon dreams

Remember when you were newlyweds and you had a list of remarkable dreams -- all those things you planned to do for yourself and as a couple? Where did the time go? And more importantly, where did the dreams go? Often in marriage, day-to-day responsibilities overtake those dreams. That's why it is essential for couples to press "pause" and reevaluate the status of their life together. Looking back and ahead by setting new goals in all areas from money to sex to kids to travel and more has tremendous benefit to a marriage. So grab your pen, paper and your wildest dreams, and get ready to make them come true.

Why set goals?

Goal setting:

  • Helps couples strengthen their relationship by working as a team toward a common aim.
  • Improves communication because it gives each person a chance to talk about personal dreams and desires, and helps partners understand themselves and each other better.
  • Validates desires and holds you accountable to each other.
  • Can be the glue that holds you together during even the most challenging times.
  • Provides tremendous satisfaction when objectives are achieved and gives a couple reason to celebrate.

How to set goals

1Make a list

First, individually (and privately) create a list of goals. Set an appointment with each other to share your lists, making sure you have ample time to truly search your soul and uncover what is important to you as an individual, as a couple and as a family, if applicable. Include practical and shoot-for-the-moon goals.

2Stuck?

Try one of these exercises to get your juices flowing:

  • Write a mission statement for your life/lives. Determine its noble purpose, and then your goal list will become the path to getting there.
  • Ask yourself, "What values are important to me/my marriage?" (ie, security, teamwork, happiness). From there, you can clearly define what to do to achieve a better state for each.
  • Examine the basic areas of life (physical environment, fun and recreation, love, health, finances, career, personal development, friends/family) and rate your satisfaction level with each on a scale of 1 to 10. This will help you know what needs focus in your life.
  • Imagine yourself running into an old friend five years from now. As you debrief her on life, what would you be proud to say? Include at the very least career, family, love and personal growth markers.
  • Picture reading the book of your life. What would make for the most compelling story? What character traits, life experiences, etc. do you have in your story?

3Share

When it is time to share your goals, make an evening of it. This is a wonderful opportunity to get to know your partner better and bond your relationship, so treat it specially. When sharing goals, be sure not to criticize, no matter how farfetched the idea is. Encouraging words only are allowed in this step. Reality checks come later.

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