How To Keep Your Marriage On Target

Healthy Marriage Habits, Challenge 3

“If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” Zig Ziglar

If you like the status quo, then just carry on with what you were doing. This post is not for you.

Plenty of people say they want a good marriage, a satisfying job, a happy family, a fulfilling life. But no one accomplishes any of these by just schlupping through life, hoping for the best.

All worthy accomplishments take intentional effort. And sacrifice.

This habit will keep your marriage focused

One way to be more intentional in your marriage is to take some time every year to stop, review, and makes plans for the months ahead. When you are deep into the demands of living—whether starting a new venture, adjusting to a new job or new family member, or just trying to survive the day—it is easy to lose perspective. Some days it can be an effort just to get out of bed and stay alive until you can fall back in bed, exhausted. And that is the rat race that exactly NO ONE said they dreamed about when they were 20.

Setting aside an annual review weekend  is a habit that will take your marriage and personal life from mindless to do lists, to measured steps towards your goals and dreams. Anniversaries are a natural time in the rhythm of a marriage, but it could also be in the summer, before school resumes, if you have children. Look honestly at the calendar, and establish a filter that allows you to weigh new commitments against already established goals and needs. Does this help or hinder our goals?

Set and review goals you have individually and as a couple. If you have kids, use this as a time to look at each child and evaluate their needs, interests, growth potential. Set new markers for the future. This is a great way to hit the “reset” button if you’re feeling overwhelmed. No matter how big the goal may seem, anything is possible when you take steady, incremental steps towards that goal. You have to start somewhere.

Reviewing goals regularly also gives time to pivot, or revise your goal. Maybe you have made some sales goals for your new business, and you have exceeded your goals—if you didn’t review them you would miss the opportunity to expand! Or maybe Johnny Jr. wanted to start football, but he hates it and it has put the family into meltdown mode too many nights. Might be time to pivot.

If they can do it…

When our middle son was engaged, they spent time with their pastor and his wife preparing for their marriage. The pastor wore dual hats, as he also ran his engineering company. They were thick in the midst of raising and homeschooling 6 children. (Stop there, I need a nap just thinking about 6 kids, much less homeschooling them all!) But they made it a HABIT to get away quarterly and spend time reviewing goals and needs in their family, and having quality time as a couple. Brilliant.

Sure, it’s not easy to accomplish this, and the challenge is real. “But we don’t have the money to get away.” “ We don’t have anyone to keep the kids.” Be creative and find a way to carve out this time. Farm out the kids with friends and stay home, if it’s not possible to get away. Although caution—it’s easy to get distracted when you’re home. Maybe trade houses with someone—then you’re not tempted to go through THEIR mail pile or dust the cobwebs that distract us at home.

Goals keep hope alive

Having goals helps get us through times when we can’t see beyond tomorrow. When we were at the bleakest time in our marriage financially, I would jot down dreams and goals in my journal during my lunch break (at a job I hated, but it paid the bills.) Having something out in the future gave me the drive to keep putting one foot in front of the other. And ya know what? Many of those dreams became reality. Not overnight, but having markers along the way brought hope that we were making progress.

Now, it’s your turn

What is a goal that you have accomplished personally or in your marriage that you are proud of?

What would you LIKE to see in your marriage? Personally? Can you start small and find success that will move you on to the next step?

Cheering you on.

For more Healthy Habits, click here and here.

Please note: In the spirit of developing a respectful community, I reserve the right to delete comments that are rude, snarky or disrespectful. If you wouldn't say it to your mama, don't say it here.

  • Gabby

    Every so often my husband and I take time at night after the kids go to bed. No electronics, barely a light on in the house. When the weather is nice, we sit out on the porch and listen to the night critters. I’m usually the conversation starter but we often will talk about recent changes in our childrens’ personalities, any adjustments we think our daily schedule could use that they might emotionally and physically benefit from. We also talk about any upcoming ideas or plans. I LOVE this time with my husband. We are able to clear away the mental clutter that so easily creeps in from the outside world and regain a clear focus on where we’re going. We often CANCEL plans during these talks too, or at least postpone them, when we realize that our schedule is simply not realistic or is becoming unpleasantly crowded. I LOVE the idea of having time away, just the two of us to do this for an entire weekend or even a 24 hour stretch.

    We were recently able to discuss and make a decision on our school options for the kids next year when our twins will be ready for Pre-k 4. We realized that the first week of school fell during the week we plan to go to Paris for a best friend’s wedding. In that moment we had to pause and ask ourselves what our dreams were. We have been itching to return to travel and the Paris trip is planned without children…JUST US. In order to keep the dreams for our marriage and family on course we finalized our decision to homeschool, at least next year, and see where that takes us. I have been on the fence about it for a year now and the moment we made the decision I felt excitement rather than anxiety! I knew, from my emotional radar that I we had made a choice that furthered our familial goals! It was a beautiful moment of clarity. One that would not have happened without some carved out quiet moments.

    • Gabby, I love this on so many levels! It saddens me that school days have gotten longer, with no better results. And pre-K–you’ll love that time with them!