The One Goal You Won't Set This Year...But Should.

Every January, we plot and plan the upcoming year. We set goals in different areas of our lives, lose a few pounds, strive for a promotion, train for a race, spend more time in God’s word. 

All of these are important, but how often do we set a goal for our marriage?

A few weeks ago, I was out for lunch with a friend and shared my excitement about New Year’s Eve, since my husband and I often hold our annual relationship meeting on that date each year. My friend looked blank and asked what an annual relationship meeting is.

Flashback to ten years ago. We had a brand-new baby (who had acid reflux and screamed). We were exhausted and disconnected as a couple. My husband came home one day and suggested we have a formal meeting to discuss our relationship, what was working, what wasn’t and what we could each do to improve it. It felt awkward at first, but it was incredibly beneficial.

Why you should set marriage goals as a coupleSince then, we’ve held annual relationship meetings and encouraged our clients to do them as well! The difficult part of marriage is that we struggle to assess our marriages objectively and even if we do, we don’t communicate that assessment effectively.

We bring up our concerns during highly emotional fights or we casually thank our spouse or compliment them while the TV is going and our phone’s in our hand. And in the offhand moment when we do focus on each other, we don’t want to bring up our concerns and “ruin" the moment!

Holding an annual relationship meeting allows you as a couple to share your feelings rationally. Because you do this while calm, it allows you to stay more objective than you might be after a knock-down, drag-out fight.

Unsure how to start? Here are a list of questions or areas of discussion:

  • What did your partner do well this year? Were they kinder? Spent more time with the children? Spent less time on their phone? Did a great job providing for the family? Include what they did well specifically as a spouse. Did they up their romance game this year? Were they more affectionate?
  • What did you do well this year and what didn’t you do well? It is our tendency, even when calm to focus on what our spouses did (or didn’t do). This is a chance for you to be honest about your own successes and failures. Maybe you were more affectionate this year but were more distracted by work or your phone. Your partner will be more open to your concerns or suggestions if you are open about your own struggles.
  • What concerns do you have about the upcoming year? These could be small or large, but don’t belabor them. If your partner is in recovery for addiction, don’t spend 65 minutes berating them about it if you are already addressing it as a couple. Instead, you can word it supportively, “I know you’ve been making changes already and I’m excited to see how it continues in 2019. At moments, I’m stressed about what could happen if you relapse, but I commit to being honest about my feelings and working to better myself as well.”
  • What goals can you set for your marriage for the new year? These could be in many different areas. I’ve had couples set goals about increasing intimacy, affection, chores around the house, attitudes, less time on the phone, more date nights. Pick one or two goals you can achieve as a couple and jot them down. Check back throughout the year to see if you’ve met that goal. If you have, set another one!

If you haven’t done an annual relationship meeting with your partner, I would encourage it. We’ve done it every year (sometimes on New Year’s Eve, sometimes on our anniversary) for the past ten years and it’s been beneficial. I’ve also had numerous couples report back the benefits of a calm, supportive discussion with their spouse about the state of their marriage.

If you are in a difficult place in your marriage (we’ve been there too), meeting in a neutral or public place can help. We are less likely to let things spiral out of control in public, and if things become heated, you can stop the discussion.

Too often, we assume our spouses know what we are thinking. What we don’t like, do like, what we want from them, what we don’t want from them. However, while your partner may have an inkling, assumptions can create problems in relationships (“You knew I want you to kiss me more,” “Why don’t you buy me flowers, you know I like them!”). This step allows you to verbalize those things calmly.

Good luck!

Let me know in the comments. Have you ever held an annual relationship meeting? What it helpful?

1 comment

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