Goal Setting: Why It’s Good For Your Marriage

My husband and I have always been a goal setting couple. Throughout the ups and downs we have experienced in our marriage, we have been constant in setting goals, working together to accomplish them, and celebrating them along the way.

We have found that goal setting in marriage is vital because it cultivates an atmosphere for a husband and wife to talk to each other about their marriage, while providing a vision for the future of their marriage. That second part there is key, because a marriage with vision is a marriage with hope!

Our desire is to inspire you to goal set in your marriage and provide some great practical tips on how to do just that.

Be sure to subscribe to the Marriage After God Podcast so you never miss an episode! 

Read The Transcript

Aaron Smith: Hey, we’re Aaron and Jennifer Smith with Marriage After God.

Jennifer Smith: Helping you cultivate an extraordinary marriage.

Aaron Smith: And today we’re going to talk about goal setting and why it’s good for your marriage.
Hey, thanks for joining us today. Don’t forget to subscribe to our channel so that you can get access to all of our episodes as we launch. And also don’t forget to hit the bell next to the subscribe button so that you get notified when we upload new videos. So today we’re going to talking about goal setting and it’s something that Jennifer and I have done since the beginning of our marriage for 11 years now. We do it every year, sometimes we do huge goals.

Jennifer Smith: Throughout the year.

Aaron Smith: Throughout the year. We check up on the goals as we go. We love doing them because it allows us to operate in goals and plans and organize our year and and our calendars around these goals. Today we’re going to talk about why setting goals in your marriage is good for your marriage.

Jennifer Smith: We have some practical tips on how to do it.

Aaron Smith: And then we’re also going to end with some spiritual ways we should be thinking about the goals that we do set. So let’s just jump right in.
So first let’s talk about some of the reasons why goal setting is good and valuable and healthy and just all around a good thing for a marriage.

Jennifer Smith: Well the first thing that I thought of was security. You have the security in marriage and in your relationship because you know where you’re going. A good friend of mine when we’re talking about raising young kids told me, you know, your kids will ask you throughout the day what’s next mommy because they want to know and when you have the answer for them, when you can supply them with a strategy and a place that they’re going or a thing that they’re doing they have peace and they have security and knowing that well Mom knows what’s going on, dad knows it’s going on. And so when I look at that in regards to marriage I just think like how much security we’ve have experienced in our own relationship even when things were rocky because we knew where we were going, we knew what was coming next and we knew how to prepare for it.

Aaron Smith: We have a friend that every day before he starts working, he works for myself, he gets a three by five card like this one, writes down the five or six things that he wants done that day and that helps him finish his day and it’s actually something I’ve tried adopting and it works really well on the day to day because when you walk into your job and you walk into, if you don’t know what you’re doing, feels very like, okay, where are we at. So if it works on a day to day which it does it also works on the year to year, which is something that we’re kind of talking about, we’re talking about large goals, annual goals, things that we’re going to focus on in the year.
So it does actually provide security because it gives you a vision of what you’re doing, it gives you a task, it gives you a direction. Instead of we’re just getting by, we’re just getting off work, we’re just going home, we’re just watching T.V., you know, just floating. And what this does is it gives you an aim.

Jennifer Smith: I don’t want to go too much into the negative side of not having goals or not knowing where you’re going in marriage but I know that people listening can probably relate to this that when you don’t have those goals and that time set aside where you’re planning with your spouse and you’re getting excited for the future together, things can look a little cloudy and a little confusing and a little frustrating because you start to wonder well, where’s my spouse at or how are they feeling about things and you kind of lose a sense of communication and a sense of direction in your own marriage.

Aaron Smith: So, one of the other valuable benefits of goal setting is communication.

Jennifer Smith: Yeah. I mean, it forces you to communicate. It forces you to practice communication.

Aaron Smith: If you’re not setting goals and you don’t know where each other at, the only way to fix that is to talk about it. When you set aside dedicated time and energy and mental power to setting goals as a family, as a marriage, you communicate, you have to. You come together and then like, hey, this is some things I think we can accomplish this year. Maybe it’s a vacation, maybe it’s starting a business, maybe it’s schooling or, whatever it is, finances. You set it together and you come together and you bring your ideas and you bring your individual visions and you actually let them meld together and see where you guys land. It forces communication. You have to do it. When we have date nights for the planning, all we’re doing is communicating. It doesn’t work otherwise.
So it cultivates communication which is one of the number one marriage killers in the first place so having goals is another reason to help communication. What’s another valuable benefit of goal setting, planning for your marriage?

Jennifer Smith: I think it builds unity and creates that environment for oneness to thrive. I know that you’ve experienced this as well like just that bringing to the table your individual passions or like you said your individual goals and desires and dreams for things and you just put them on the table for them to meld together and you get to navigate what things are you going to pursue and what things are going to look forward to in the future for your marriage.

Aaron Smith: It allows for sacrifice too, self-sacrifice. So if I have this vision for myself which I shouldn’t be having because we want to be one, we actually get to find out. Actually, that’s in the way of something that is better for both of us or that’s pretty selfish and we actually get to put it on the table and look at it and evaluate them and put them together.

Jennifer Smith: Then other times there’s this other sacrifice where if you brought something to the table that you really wanted to pursue and I look at it and I go okay, I can see how that would benefit you as my husband or as a leader and I go, okay, we’re going to pursue this together and I can be a supportive wife or vice versa. So there’s sacrifice on both ends too.

Aaron Smith: A good example of that might be a season of school or a season of training in something.

Jennifer Smith: You actually went through a season the beginning of last year, four months of every Wednesday for a few hours you were being discipled at a Bible study and it was hard because I always knew I was going to be with the kids all day and then with the kids that night and you were only home for maybe dinner, sometimes not even, you would just leave and get dinner on the way to your Bible study. So that that was a difficult season but I knew the benefits of it and so being able to sacrifice the time and energy and effort that’s required to pull off that kind of goal and knowing the benefits of it was really impactful for our marriage.

Aaron Smith: One of the most important benefits that gives a marriage is another opportunity to come together and be praying and submitting plans before the Lord. It’s another occasion, because we’re always trying to find, we want to pray for everything as the Bible teaches us, is finding more ways of saying we’re going to pray about these things together. So, finding that common ground, finding that communication and the unity and prayer is just, that’s what is good about goal setting.

Jennifer Smith: Our heart’s desire for you guys is to encourage you that a marriage after God does exactly that. They go to God. They take their goals and their desires as a team and they lay them at God’s feet and say okay God, we need your guidance. We want to know that these goals are because you’ve given us these desires and that we’re going to pursue them together because of you and I think that a marriage after God understands that goal setting is important because it actually clarifies what your purpose is, what purpose God gave you for your marriage.

Aaron Smith: Yeah. So let’s move into the … So we told you why it’s good. Goal setting is just good, in individual life, in business and in marriage. It’s just a good thing to have goals that we’re going to attain and try and shoot for. But the next thing we want to talk about is we want to talk about some practical ways that we set goals and keep track of them in our own marriage and maybe you guys can get benefits from that. So one of them is something that we talked about before is we utilize our date nights.

Jennifer Smith: It’s a date night takeover.

Aaron Smith: We don’t do it every date night but often we’ll use our date nights to do a check up on our goals or we’ll do it for goal casting.

Jennifer Smith: Definitely at least once a month. If you’re going on a date night regularly I would say like once a week or something like that, I would say take one date night a month to just reflect and check up on what the progress is of your goals.

Aaron Smith: You can use one of the first ones, we usually like to do, in the beginning of the year we go on a date and we just made some big plans, we’re like, what do you see God might be wanting to do in our lives? What can we do in our our marriage, our children’s lives, business wise and we just like, sometimes we go right beyond our comfort zone on them, sometimes we go way beyond our comfort zone on planning. We lay them down, we write them down and we talk about them and we just, we have a fun date night about these things.

Jennifer Smith: I do want to encourage them listening that if for any reason at all you can’t make that date night work, it’s okay to talk about it in front your kids or with your family.

Aaron Smith: We just love doing it on a date night.

Jennifer Smith: We absolutely love doing it on a date night but if for whatever reason you take a drive or you do it at the dinner table, that’s okay too. We actually have friends that, they have older children and they utilize that time as a family to really vision cast for where their future is-

Aaron Smith: Because especially when your kids get older they’ll want to have some goals and vision too.

Jennifer Smith: Date night is great for that isolated conversation of like we’re going to talk about some pretty intimate things or things about the kids that we don’t want to talk about in front of them, so both are good.

Aaron Smith: So another practical thing that we do in our goal casting, goal planning is we write it down. I know this sounds pretty simple but you love to write things down so you’ll bring, she brings a journal, she’s got a pen, highlighters, markers. She’s writing stuff down,

Jennifer Smith: If we’re on a date and I hadn’t brought anything I will ask the waiter for a pen and usually use the back of the receipt or napkin and we try and write things down all the time. Another thing we have is a huge whiteboard. This is great for entrepreneurs, people who work from home or if you’re a mom that works from home, it’s absolutely great to have some sort of whiteboard or even chalkboard that you can walk by every day and see and it’s really quick to just throw up what your goals are and what you’re aiming for.

Aaron Smith: Yeah. And so, not just writing it down for yourself but writing it down and then putting those goals somewhere visible. Maybe on your bathroom mirror, maybe on the chalkboard in your kitchen.

Jennifer Smith: We’ve even used our closet mirror before with a dry erase marker, that works.

Aaron Smith: We would write down big goals and that was, it was always in front of us so that we’d be seeing it daily and weekly and we’d be like, hey, we haven’t done anything towards that goal recently. We need to be like let’s go have a date night yeah and figure out how we can get that back on track.

Jennifer Smith: Write some strategies down on how to do that.

Aaron Smith: And so, writing it down for yourself and then putting it somewhere visible when you guys have decided what those two, three large goals are for the year.

Jennifer Smith: They just serve as great reminders to be able to working towards them. If you talk about them that’s great but if you don’t ever bring them up again and you forget about them …

Aaron Smith: That’s not really a goal.

Jennifer Smith: It’s not really a goal.

Aaron Smith: So writing it down makes it real. And another thing writing it down does is it allows you to write other things down underneath those goals like breaking those goals down into weekly, monthly, what can I do in January, what can I do in February.

Jennifer Smith: Even daily bite-size doable things that you can aim for.

Aaron Smith: You could break up the ideas and put actual tasks oriented ideas underneath those on how you’re going to accomplish those goals. Let’s say it’s going on a family trip. You can break down how much money you need to save for it, how you’re going to do that.

Jennifer Smith: Or how much laundry you need to do leading up to that day you leave.

Aaron Smith: It could be throwing a garage sale. Do you need to contact someone. Putting all those little task underneath, just writing it down helps you actually accomplish the goal.

Jennifer Smith: This next one is one that you actually kind of already mentioned but it’s just once you have your goals and you’ve talked about them, bringing them before the Lord and just asking God to guide you, to give you wisdom, to help you have clarification whether or not this is something you should be pursuing. And so Aaron has a great verse that he wanted to share with you all.

Aaron Smith: So in Proverbs 16:3 it says, “Commit your work to the Lord and your plans will be established.” Now it could be easy to be like, oh, all I got to do is commit it to God and like I’m going to get whatever I want, whatever plans we have. Now the idea is that we commit it to the Lord. And so he actually has the right to change them. So what it does is as we begin to pray and commit our plans to the Lord, our work to the Lord, the things that we we see for our lives, it gives God permission every step of the way to do what He wants, to change our hearts.
Because there’s been many times we have this plan, we have his goal and we’re like, oh man, this is awesome. We start working towards it, being diligent for it but we’re praying along the way and we’re saying, okay Lord, how about this, okay Lord, how about this. And you know what, there’s been times that He totally derails, totally changes, totally says, actually, that’s getting in the way of something better, that’s getting in the way of this over here.

Jennifer Smith: There’s been times that he’s confirmed that in your heart and mine at separate times but then we come together to like check up on it, we reveal to each other-

Aaron Smith: This is probably going to hurt you but I think we should just put this on the shelf.

Jennifer Smith: And I’m like, no, I feel the same way.

Aaron Smith: And we’re like, oh, good.

Jennifer Smith: When you commit your work to the Lord I do believe that he will unify that message of whatever mission you’re on, whatever goals you’re aiming for, whatever vision you have cast in front of you, he mods it and he shapes it and he has the permission to help us navigate whether or not we should be pursuing.

Aaron Smith: Because the goal in this is not to just what we want, how we want it, when we want it. The goal is that we are coming together as one and we’re vision casting, we’re goal casting with God in mind, with the Bible in mind, with His will for our life in mind and saying here’s some things that we think we could accomplish that we think God might want to, and then we say, okay Lord, is it, okay Lord, show us. Walk with us, teach us, give us wisdom. It’s not just to get our way.

Jennifer Smith: The more that you guys do this as a couple, set goals and things and talk about it, you’ll realize when you’re committing stuff to the Lord, years of that building up, you get on this track of like, well, that thing over there doesn’t even make sense because it has nothing to do with what God’s working on. God’s will is so much more important than any of these other little goals. It is cool to see how he does shape our hearts and our minds and our perspectives of what it is that we are to be doing. What is the purpose of our marriage and what are we aiming for, what are we striving for, what’s our family striving for together.

Aaron Smith: So every step of the way we submit our work to the Lord. We say hey God, here’s some things that I think, we’d love to do as a family, in our marriage and where we’re going and things that we think we can accomplish, but not my will but your will be done. So we ask God and we submit it to Him. You know what, oftentimes, when we do that, the plans that get established are the ones that God wants and it’s pretty awesome.

Jennifer Smith: Memorize that verse.

Aaron Smith: Memorize that verse. And so that leads us to the last thing that we, last practical advice we want to give you when it comes to goal setting.

Jennifer Smith: And it’s one of my favorites. It’s just celebrate the victories whether they’re small or little, no matter what you’ve accomplished as a team make sure that you’re celebrating together. Maybe you’re taking an extra date night just to celebrate an accomplishment. Maybe it’s words of affirmation when you see your spouse walk in the door and know that they did something that helped you accomplish that goal today.

Aaron Smith: When you reach that goal let your kids know. Be like, hey, you know, we made this goal, we’ve been submitting it to the Lord and you know what, we accomplished it and we just wanted to celebrate with you guys, we just wanted to let you know that this is awesome that we did this together.

Jennifer Smith: In celebrating, it also goes hand in hand with committing your work to the Lord. Give Him praise, give Him thanks for how He’s equipped you to be able to accomplish those goals. Give Him that glory because He deserves it.

Aaron Smith: Going back to what we were just talking about prayer, if God shifts your direction and takes a goal that you have and puts it on the shelf, celebrate it. Say, thank you Lord, He saved you-

Jennifer Smith: Thank Him for giving you that clarification.

Aaron Smith: He’s faithful. There’s been many times like we feel bummed out by something but then we realize, man, that was a good thing that God stopped that or put us in a different direction.

Jennifer Smith: Sometimes we don’t even realize it for like six or nine months and then we realize what had happened in that time, there was no way that that other goal would have fit in there and so we just thank God for the saving grace on that.

Aaron Smith: So, to end this episode we want to present to you some areas of your life that you guys can discuss in your next goal casting event, whether it be a date night or around the dinner table. Here’s some categories of things that you guys can set goals in, and it’s things that we set goals in pretty much every single year. Regularly.

Jennifer Smith: So the first category is individual passions or desires. So I have my own you know things that I’m dreaming up of in my head, you have your own. So writing them down or bringing them to the table to talk about, that’s just one area is what individually is God stirring in your heart that you can come and talk about.

Aaron Smith: Another area is business. If you guys have your own jobs, like nine to fives or if you actually work together, if you’re self-employed, regardless of what your work is, you can have a vision for it. Maybe it’s like how to get a raise, maybe it’s how to … If you want to transition from one job to another maybe it’s starting a business. These are things that we should be talking about in goal setting.

Jennifer Smith: I would just add to that. If your husband is either an entrepreneur or has a job that he brings these goals to the table and maybe you don’t have anything to offer because you just think that you’re either at home with the kids or doing something that doesn’t require a goal in that area, just make sure that you’re being supportive and navigating that as a team still. I think that’s really important.

Aaron Smith: And understanding your work schedule. We know some people that three months out of the year just there’s nothing they can do but do work. That can go into the goal setting like, well, we need to get stuff done before X dates because you’re going to be unavailable. So understanding that the schedules-

Jennifer Smith: Also, we’ve had friends who have three months out of the year that don’t have work because their jobs are depending on whether or circumstances that are outside of their control and so teaming up to be prepared for when that time comes I think that’s really important.

Aaron Smith: So, the next area which is probably the most important to be setting goals in is your spiritual life. Are you guys going to read through the Bible that year? What kinds of things do you want to work on spiritually? As you want to get in prayer more together. What does it look like for your church in your community? Those are things that you want to put in and, like, do you want start discipling someone. Is there someone in your community you want to start giving to and blessing and helping. So, setting goals spiritually is one of the most important categories that you should be setting goals in as a couple.

Jennifer Smith: When you guys are discussing these, don’t be afraid to ask each other where you’re at. If we were having a discussion about our spiritual life I should not be afraid to ask you how have you been doing in reading the word and then giving you time to discuss.

Aaron Smith: What are you learning right now?

Jennifer Smith: What are you learning about? How can I help you as a wife, support you in your spiritual life.

Aaron Smith: And vice versa. How can I help you in your spiritual life?

Jennifer Smith: Yeah. Asking each other those hard questions is part of the goal setting process because it’s also checking up on where they’re at and what’s going on. So the next one is just overall your marriage. How is your marriage doing.

Aaron Smith: Do you have any marriage goals. In your intimacy, do you want to be intimate more often because I know this is a struggle for a lot of people, it was a struggle for us. It was a main area of struggle but we can actually discuss those and say, hey, that’s been an area that we’ve been kind of not paying attention to lately. How can we pay attention to that? Do we want to work on it, do we want to get better at it, which is a great goal to have is your intimacy life.

Jennifer Smith: And giving each other a safe zone where you can actually talk real talk, intimate talk on what your needs are. Like if I need more romance in my life I need to be able to communicate that to you and figure out how can we facilitate this in our marriage.

Aaron Smith: And what does that look like.

Jennifer Smith: What does it look like. So I think that’s really important.

Aaron Smith: Within the marriage category, there’s finances, there’s home. There’s all these other things-

Jennifer Smith: Parenting.

Aaron Smith: You could say like well, where are we at with these? What is our vision and goal for these areas? Do you want to get out of debt? Debt was a huge thing for us. We got out of debt 10 years ago now, seven years ago.

Jennifer Smith: But it took us a year and a half to do.

Aaron Smith: Took us a while but we made a plan and a goal and everything we did was wrapped around that goal and we accomplished it.

Jennifer Smith: Yeah. And we celebrated.

Aaron Smith: And we celebrated, we made a video about it. So, these are just a handful of the categories you can sit down with your spouse and start planning in and saying hey, let’s pick a couple these categories. Some of them, you can’t do all of them. We don’t always get to do …

Jennifer Smith: Sometimes you just run out of time.

Aaron Smith: … individual goals. Sometimes we have just whole years where there’s no individual goals, there’s just we have this goal together for these things and almost everything else gets sacrificed to make sure that those goals get met.

Jennifer Smith: Sometimes you only walk away with one or two goals that you really want to focus on and that’s okay too.

Aaron Smith: A good example is like let’s say you want to get out of debt and just going back. Many of your individual passions might have to get shelved because they might cost money. Oftentimes, the individual passions cost more money than all the other things. So if you want to get out of debt and you say, you know what, I’m not going to do XYZ because all that money we’re going to put towards debt. And you know what, you did together and that goal, you both have sacrificed and said we’re going to sacrifice together these areas so that we can accomplish this one major amazing goal that’s going to benefit us next year and the years to come.

Jennifer Smith: I think the biggest thing is just to make sure that you’re in agreement. When you walk away from the goal setting process is you need to walk away in agreement. I really do believe that prayer solidifies that agreement and when you have finished talking through it and laying everything out and then you go to prayer, I feel like it just brings that agreement together with God and it’s beautiful.

Aaron Smith: Not just being in agreement but being in unity and how it’s accomplished. Not just like well, that was your goal, go figure it out. It’s our goal and we’re going to do it together and to be honest, every decision from that point on gets filtered through our walk with God and through our goals. Like well, like that kind of feels like it’s taken us off course from what we said we were going to do. It helps you get on the same page and needs to be accomplished together.
So, I just want to end with a biblical perspective on goal setting and goal planning, because we don’t want to just go into this and be like let’s set goals, let’s just do this, we’re going to accomplish XYZ. We want to know how the Bible would teach us to have a posture towards even any of our goals, our posture towards tomorrow.
In James Chapter 4:13 it says, “Come now you who say today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life for you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, if the Lord wills we will live and do this or that.”
So our posture towards any of the stuff is not that we just don’t make goals and also that we don’t just pursue goals blindly and just we’re going to go for this and that. We have a posture of if the Lord wills it, we will do this or that. That doesn’t mean we don’t plan. James isn’t saying don’t make plans, he’s saying in your plans submit them to the Lord. In your plans if the Lord wills it. And so we make goals, we make plans, we have these ideas, we have these visions for the future and we say we have today and we’re going to do what we can today and we’re going to plan for such and such tomorrow if the Lord wills it. And you know what, that allows us to just have so much peace and calmness and patience and understanding and it allows the Lord to just direct us and guide us and we don’t get frustrated when our plans don’t come out the way we want them to.
Now, we do everything we can in wisdom and the giftings that we have to do what we believe the Lord’s leading us in and we make plans and goals for our future but we let the Lord have all of it. And so, I just would encourage you to set goals, to cast vision in your home and in your marriage, to become one, to have unity as a couple but at the same time, submit your work to the Lord so that he will establish your plans.

Jennifer Smith: That’s good. Well, thank you guys so much for joining us on this episode. We hope that it encouraged you and inspired you and challenged you to make sure that your goal setting and submitting it all to God in your marriage. And also just a reminder that we would love for you to subscribe to our channel just so that you are not missing out on any future episodes. Thank you so much for joining us this week, stay tuned for next time.

Aaron Smith: Did you enjoy today’s show? Find many more encouraging stories and resources at marriageaftergod.com and let us help you cultivate an extraordinary marriage.

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