Goal Setting in Marriage

Anyone who knows me knows that I almost always rail against structure.  I like to be spontaneous, free, and, frankly, last-minute.  From my biased opinion of my experience, I’m convinced that I work best when these factors are present.  And, by and large, I’ve had some measure of success operating this way.

But the Lord saw fit to lead me to marry my wife Alida.  She’s a planner, a list-maker, and an organizer.  In fact, when she’s in planning mode, she’ll write on her master list which sub-lists she needs to make!  And she’s had a great deal of success living in this manner.

Put the two of us together…well you can imagine the sorts of difficulties we face!  Alida is hoping that we’ll plan and I’m pushing things to the deadline.  I’m hoping to explore random things at the last minute and Alida is thinking ahead to a weekend two months from now.

OpenClips / Pixabay

And for the longest time we just dealt with these tensions.  I’m not sure why exactly, but we never really addressed this issue…for years!  But once I entered into the dissertation phase of my PhD, my life needed to get much more structured.  I needed to research and write everyday, on top of my other responsibilities too.  In order for me to get through this thing in one piece I had to start organizing my life  a bit.  I needed a target to shoot at.

So at first I just tried to do things on my own.  I would watch Alida and try to mimic some of her planning behavior.  This worked kind of well.  But I needed the inside scoop.  My pride, however, prevented me from actually asking for help.  So I waited.

And eventually, after a while, Alida suggested that we do a weekly meeting so that she and I could be on the same page.  To be totally honest, my wife had offered this suggestion many times before, and I had poo-pooed it every single time.  Like I said earlier, Alida is just built this way but since she discovered Michael Hyatt’s podcast she’s been way more goal-focused.  Needless to say,  she was so excited when I finally gave in!

So, for the better part of a year Aldia and I have been having a weekly meeting.  We discuss our schedules for the upcoming week, our workout plans, when our date will be, and any special errands that need to be run.

There’s one more thing we do: we set weekly goals.  We divide these up into various categories, like “personal,” “work,” “spiritual,” and “relationship.”  Our hope is that we can help one another accomplish our goals and check in on our progress in the future.

Now I’d love to say that doing this has resulted in awe-inspiring results.  It hasn’t.  But it has produced positive results.  Here are a few of them:

Setting goals has helped us…

  • …be more intentional.  We both now know what it is that we’re trying to do so that each of us can focus better individually and as a couple.
  • …understand one another better.  By weekly hearing one another’s goals we get to enter into one another’s thought processes.  This has proven to be so valuable for our relationship!
  • …hold each other accountable.  People always say that it’s hard to hold your spouse accountable; and, for the most part, that is true.  But setting goals together gives each of us the freedom to check in on one another.
  • …know how to pray specifically for one another.  While part of our meeting also involves sharing our prayer needs with one another, knowing each other’s goals has helped us know how to pray for one another more holistically.


Is goal setting important to you?  How do you do it?