For most, their goal for marriage was just that – getting married. Then what? Doesn’t the marriage drive itself? 2016 goal: Get a new Porsche Carrera. You get it. Now that you have it, will you put that most prized possession in drive and let the car go anywhere? Possible outcomes: Drive in circles, or crash and burn. Is that what you want for your marriage?
Butchart Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia, is one of the world’s most beautiful gardens – paradise on earth. Isn’t paradise on earth what we want from marriage? Did those gardens just happen? If so, would someone please explain that to my yard? I want paradise on earth, but I don’t want to spend the time to get it. It first requires a vision, goals and plans, and then implementation — cultivating, trimming, weeding and pest control. Do you have a vision, goals and plans to get your paradise on earth? Or will you end up like millions in a divorce court claiming you grew apart?
How do you plan a marriage?
Unlike a project or job, marriage requires a lifelong commitment, and prioritizing/balancing various areas of our lives – spiritual life, relationship, finances, child-rearing and retirement. We have a fixed amount of time, talents and energy to do these, so effectiveness is key. Where do you want to be most effective?
Goals are measurable, achievable objectives with certain dates. Staying together is not a goal. Being loved is not a goal.
Mission/Vision is the purpose of your marriage. Goals help you accomplish your purpose.
Plans are means to achieving goals.
Planning is the act of casting a vision/mission, setting goals to accomplish that mission and determining how to get there.
Ironically we are often good at planning our kids’ lives but don’t plan our own. We intentionally plan time with the kids but not with each other. Then, when our kids leave the nest, we are no longer connected to our spouses, and we have no vision for what’s next. While raising children in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6) is perhaps the greatest calling for a couple’s marriage, their first calling is to become one and follow the Lord.
Think about it – when that baby comes home from the hospital, we imagine (vision cast) how great they will be. You set goals of where they will go to school and make plans to accomplish by investing in their Florida Prepaid Fund. Have you done this much for your marriage?
Step 1 – Mission/Vision Casting
Businesses start with their mission statement, which explains their purpose. Being married is not a purpose. What is the purpose of your marriage? What do you want said of your marriage when you die? They got by or they had a good time or they loved each other with undying faithfulness or they helped raise dozens of foster children?
The number one mission statement for any marriage should be to love each other as Jesus loved us, dying to cover our spouse’s sins, even though they don’t deserve it (Ephesians 5: 21-33). Beyond that, what mission has God given your marriage? Part of that may be raising godly children, but that is secondary to loving your spouse.
Your mission may change as your go through seasons of your life, which is why New Year’s Day is a good time to re-evaluate your mission statement, and make adjustments according to God’s leading.
Step 2 – Setting the Goals and Plans
With your mission statements in mind, what areas of your marriage should be adjusted to meet those goals? Start with your longest term goal and work backwards. Then determine practically how you will accomplish those goals.
Relationship. What will you do to intentionally demonstrate love to one another and maintain connection? Weekly date nights? Marriage conferences annually? Ministry. What ministry will you work in together? How much time will you spend doing that ministry? Retirement. Should you retire? If so, when? How much do you need to put away now? Child-rearing. What is your goal for your kids? Caution: Don’t let children’s financial needs supersede your mission and retirement goals. Financial. Do you have a budget? Starting with tithing first, retirement second, extinguishing debt third; what are your joint financial considerations to accomplish your marriage goals?
Step 3 – Year-in-Review
Time to see how you did. If this is your first year, you have a lot to pray about … together. Write your vision statement, goals and plans. If you have done this before, time to get out your plans and re-evaluate and adjust.
Happy New Year!
Patricia Hartman is a forensic CPA/partner at Kofsky, Hartman & Weinger, PA. (www.khwcpa.com), author of “The Christian Prenuptial Agreement” (www.ChristianPrenuptial.com), president of South Florida Word Weavers and a board member of Living Water Christian Counseling.