4 MAJOR GOALS EVERY COUPLE SHOULD HAVE FOR A THRIVING MARRIAGE
By Jennifer Waddle
If you’ve ever heard the phrase “on a wing and a prayer,” you might know it was made popular by the 1943 song recorded by Bing Crosby. The phrase means you hope something will turn out but aren’t prepared to make it happen. This is a great illustration of marriage, as couples tend to hope for the best but don’t always have what it takes to succeed. Setting a few goals can make all the difference and move your marriage from a wing and a prayer to a wonderful lifelong commitment.
Here are four major goals every marriage should have:
1. The Goal of Honor and Respect
Honoring God and respecting each other is the number one goal for marital blessing and favor. After all, the greatest commandment in the Bible is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. It was recorded by Moses in the Old Testament in Deuteronomy 6:5 and reaffirmed by Jesus in Mark 12:30. The second greatest commandment follows close behind: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Husbands and wives are the closest neighbors that Jesus spoke of. Applying this command to our marriages can work wonders in changing our attitudes and behaviors. Imagine the amazing blessings that come when we put God’s greatest commandments into practice. We experience:
Keep in mind that no one is perfect. There will be times when one spouse shows more respect than the other. There will also be times when one spouse exhibits deeper honor of the Lord. This is where grace and encouragement come in. Offer your spouse grace when they fall short (as we often do ourselves) and give them the encouragement they need to get back on track.
Above every other major goal in marriage, honor God together and respect each other deeply. The blessings that follow these two greatest commandments are worth every effort. Make this your number one goal, and be amazed at what the Lord will do.
2. The Goal of Yielding
Yielding isn’t something that comes naturally to us, is it? We’re tempted to step on the accelerator and get ahead of oncoming cars even when waiting at a yield sign. Unfortunately, it’s human nature to push ahead, exert our will, and insist on getting our way. However, the peace and calm that come with a yielding spirit are well worth the intentionality.
This might include:
-Listening more than you speak
-Affirming more than you criticize
-Letting go of insignificant things
-Allowing your spouse to have the final say
If yielding to your spouse is difficult for you, spend time asking God for wisdom. James 3:17 says that the wisdom from above is “peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality or hypocrisy.” Realizing that a willingness to yield is part of God’s wisdom helps us do the hard thing. It might not be easy, but it creates an atmosphere of calm and peace.
In the devotion titled, The Ability to Yield, Meg Bucher says, “Making good choices, unfortunately, doesn’t come naturally. It takes effort to steer our hearts toward what is good and right in the world. ‘Submit to one another,’ Paul encouraged the Ephesians. But first, we must submit our lives to the One who created us.”
This is a good reminder that yielding to our Creator helps us yield to our spouses. With this initial act of surrender, our hearts are humbled and softened, preparing us to submit easily and willingly. Let the goal of yielding be added to your list, and as you practice it, watch mountains of resistance crumble.
3. The Goal of Communicating Kindly
I’ve heard people say that being nice is a weakness, and I can understand how it isn’t always a good solution to the problem. However, there is rarely a reason to speak unkindly to people – especially our spouses.
Unfortunately, it’s easy to get into a bad habit of snapping at each other or speaking rudely without realizing it. But when we set the goal of communicating kindly, the whole atmosphere changes. Couples laugh more, enjoy one another’s company, and start confiding in each other again.
If you want your marriage to be strong and vibrant, make it a goal to communicate clearly and kindly. Say what you mean and mean what you say, but don’t be mean about what you say! This can go a long, long way in healing relationships and turning the tide on struggling marriages.
The great thing about healthy communication is that it gets better results in less time. Think about the hours wasted when we give our spouses silent treatment or react harshly instead of responding kindly. In contrast, speaking truthfully in love propels us toward a better resolution.
Set a goal that you will communicate in a healthy way and carve out time to discuss important issues. Pray beforehand and ask God to direct your conversations in such a way that both sides are heard, valued, and treated with kindness.
4. The Goal of Intimacy
Intimacy in marriage is one of the most contentious topics, but that doesn’t mean it should be avoided. This is where couples usually get into trouble; they avoid open conversations about their needs and desires. Instead, they avoid the issue until it becomes a significant problem for one spouse or the other.
In the article, 3 Types of Intimacy in Marriage (and Tips for Rekindling It), Heather Riggleman addresses the Spiritual, emotional, and physical components of healthy intimacy. About the physical, she says, “Physical intimacy is more than what happens between the sheets. It’s holding hands, cuddling on the couch, hugs in passing, and even dancing in the kitchen.”
With a little thoughtful planning, couples can be more intentional about cultivating intimacy that may or may not include sex. Marking dates on the calendar can be super helpful when making intimacy one of your top goals. You can include things like:
-An afternoon of hiking or biking
-A romantic dinner out (or in)
-Taking ballroom dance lessons
-Getting couple’s massages
-Playing cards or board games
-Cooking dinner together one night a week
Whether you’re a goal-setter or not, creating healthy objectives in your marriage can make all the difference for success in the long run. Resist navigating “on a wing and a prayer,” and be intentional about how you want your marriage to turn out. With a little planning and preparation, you can have a marriage that honors God and reaps the abundant blessings that follow.