Pastors, let's face it, if we allow our jobs to dictate to us, they will. In fact, our jobs will pull our marriage apart. Not on purpose of course but just through the natural ebb and flow of pastoring. Early on in our marriage my wife and I began something that has strengthened our marriage and helped produce a strong purposeful life together.
In our marriage we set goals. These aren't just any goals, these are intentional goals in intentional areas. After all if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. These goals give and demand that our marriage has vision and purpose.
Here is the structure that we use to set goals. We have five year and one year goals. The idea is that the one year goal should be micro goals that feed into the macro five year goals. For example, if we have a five year financial goal to have $5,000 in the savings then a one year goal would be to set aside $1,000 aside this year.
So what are the areas we set intentional marriage goals?
1. Family Goals
These goals are things we want to accomplish to strengthen our family. These goals aren't about just having a "fun experience" with the kids. It can be but it shouldn't be all fun. So some goals we've set in this area are Disney vacation (fun five year goal), increased spiritual awareness (five year goal), increase in well roundedness of our kids (five year goal).
Here's how we build up to accomplish the five year goals. For the Disney Vacation we wanted to take in five years, that meant we took smaller vacations each year and set the additional money aside so we could pay cash to stay at the Wilderness Lodge at Disney. For the five year goal of our children being well rounded, each year leading up to year five we took them to a symphony, listened to opera, went to a rodeo, hiked, ate different cuisine from different countries, etc.
Family goals help you and your spouse decide what experiences you want your children to have and the memories you want to make.
2. Social Goals
How are we growing socially? I don't mean with social media I mean with real human action. With this area of our marriage our five year goals looked something like, "Increase Number of Friends", "Deepen Current Relationships." The one year goal for "Increase Number of Friends" was to have dinner with one new family a month. The one year goal for "Deepen Current Relationships" was to read books together or do something like a vacation together.
Social goals are really about your marriage growing socially. As pastors meeting new people shouldn't be hard. It wasn't hard for us, in fact I think the bar was set too low. LOL
3. Financial Goals
Financial goals are tricky because life happens. However, if you've been through any financial training or class like Financial Peace University then you know it can be done. So a five year goal here might be to set back enough money to take "that vacation" or reduce debt by $5,000 or whatever you both feel is needed or wanted in your financial life. Why are financial goals important? Because money is spiritual but that is for another post. What's important here is that your money will show you what's important in your marriage.
The five year goal of going on and paying cash for "that vacation" in five years may mean that each year you set back $1,000. The five year goal of reducing debt by $5,000 is that you pay off a $1,000 of debt each year.
4. Spiritual Goals
How will your family grow spiritually? Spirituallity includes things like self-image, connectedness to your Creator, hope, love, faith, a faith family like a local church body to call home, etc. How is your family growing in these areas? It's these areas that will bring satisfaction and fulfillment.
For the five year goal of increased spiritual awareness, one year we committed to taking communion together as a family at dinner. Another year we had a prayer journal at dinner to record how each of our prayers were answered.
A five year goal here might be a greater understanding of the Bible. The one year goal might be to attend 35 services that year. Or a monthly Bible memory verse.
If you reach your 5 year goal early, hallelujah!! Celebrate and set another goal!! Be sure to keep all your one and five year goals so that you can look back and see what you've accomplished together!! Again these are 4 areas that my wife and I have been intentional about setting goals for our marriage. This morning we set a BIG 10 year goal!!
Finally, at the end of each year my wife and I get away on a one tank trip to review our goals and progress. I jokingly refer to it as the "State of the Marriage Address." She laughs and roll's her eye's but she loves it. Pulling off these goals and the yearly retreat requires prayer, intentionality, and full fledged commitment to one another. You will have differences in your goals but you can work them out. Believe it or not your marriage will be stronger AND IT WORKS!!
But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.
– 2 Chronicles 15:7
If you'd like for me to assist you in marital goal setting or the forms we use, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.