Tips for Setting Goals with your Spouse

Our responses to this week’s marriage chat hosted by


Should spouses plan goals for the marriage?

Definitely! Working towards joint goals gives strength to your marriage. If you’re not heading in the same direction, you’re heading for disaster. Setting goals together is a way to connect with your spouse, allowing you to have regular conversations about what you each want out of your marriage and out of your future. Just as individuals need to work towards goals to be fulfilled. Marriages need goals to be fulfilling. The trick is to find ways to move towards individual goals and marital goals at the same time.


How far out should spouses plan goals and how often should they check progress?

Spouses should work together to create both long term and short term goals. The short term goals might be the smaller steps that will allow you to reach the long term goal, or they can be completely separate. How far out you should plan your goals depends on the type of goals you’re working on and how comfortable you feel about the planning process. Joint goal setting requires a careful balance, especially when spouses have different decision making styles.

As a general rule of thumb – at the end of each month, discuss with your spouse what you would like to accomplish in the next month. You may find it helpful to plan a minimum goal and an ideal goal. As you progress towards the goal, keep each other updated. Some spouses find it helpful to discuss progress at regular intervals, while others may find it best to check in only after certain benchmarks are reached.


What tips do you have about setting and accomplishing marriage goals?

Focus on compromise, not sacrifice. Marital goals are about two people coming together to accomplish more than they could on their own, not to ignore individuality for the sake of common goals. Thus, marital goals should complement each spouse’s individual desires and respect individual limitations. Really, it all comes down to communication. Both spouses need to know what the other views as priorities. Openly discuss what you each want from life and from your marriage. Recognize each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Be honest about what you can do and what type of support you need from your spouse to accomplish the goals.


What kind of goals should spouses set regarding parenting?

The most important goal spouses can set is to help each other in being the best parents you can be. Parenting can be extremely trying at times, and it is not uncommon for spouses to disagree about the best way to raise children. For example, discipline is a common area where parents can disagree, but it is so important that spouses have a unified plan in order to avoid the “good guy” and “bad guy” style of parenting. Spouses need to create a clear parenting plan that covers household rules, expectations, and acceptable standards for the children’s behavior.

By creating a parenting plan together, both spouses can remain on the same page. Joint parenting goals in step/blended families are too often forgotten. Spouses should also have a plan for how parenting decisions should be made. For example, create a plan for which types of decisions will require both spouses input and which either spouse can resolve alone. With children, many decisions need to be made in the moment, but don’t leave the other parent in the dark. The goal should be to parent together.

Sometimes it is also important for children to be included in goal setting. It’s important for children to feel a sense of ownership in decisions and responsibility for their own lives. At the same time, parents need to be parents. They need to be a figure of authority and guide children in appropriate directions. Many spouses find it helpful to set the long term family goals, and then allow children to participate in determining the details. Children can learn a lot from being a part of the decision making processes. Additionally, when they see their parents set goals, children will be encouraged to set their own.


Do you have any tips for a couple whose goal is to build a business together?

Someone once said you should pick your business partner with the same care that you pick your spouse – so your spouse as your business partner could be the perfect choice! Success in business and marriage require a lot of the same skills. Owning a business together can even be extra incentive to work on your marriage. As you become a stronger couple, your business will also become stronger.

Working with your spouse is very rewarding, but relationship dynamics can also make it a challenging experience. Don’t allow yourselves to get caught up on who is the boss. The goal is to work together, it shouldn’t matter who is in charge. Don’t let you marriage become a business. Make a deal that you will leave work at work. Make time for your spouse every day, no matter what. However, you also need to spend some time apart. Both spouses still need the space to be their own person.

Before you embark on building a business together, make sure that you can handle the day to day decision making and goal setting of marriage. Having a business together will add another layer of stress and responsibility. Don’t let the stresses of work hurt your marriage, remember your priorities. The business might provide you with the money you need, but don’t forget marriage is for richer AND for poorer.


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