Our wedding anniversary is on December 29th, which we have found to be one of the worst times of year to try and celebrate our marriage! Every year we are out of money, and typically one or more of our kids are sick! The one-up side of a December anniversary is that it is a built-in end-of-year chance to reflect and do some strategic goal setting for our marriage for the new year. On the 29th, we take time to reflect on the ways God has worked through our lives together over the past calendar year, as well as talk through what goals we want to set for our marriage for the following year.
The New Year is the perfect time to do as we do for our anniversary and take account of what God is doing in your home and prayerfully ask Him to guide your steps for the next year. Psalm 77:11 says, "I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old." Taking time to remember God's faithfulness in your life and even more specifically for your marriage is so important! When we recount the ways God has kept your home covered under the shadow of his wing, our faith grows! When our faith is strengthened, then we can boldly step forward towards the goals and dreams God has placed in our hearts.
I invite you to do what our ill-timed anniversary has made us do annually: pause together to reflect and set a goal for the New Year. Do it even with the sick kids and the out-of-control spending! It's so important to prioritize your marriage and also make an effort to invite the Lord into your plans for 2022. We know that without God's help, even our best-laid plans are useless. Ask him to guide your marriage and to help give you a vision for the new year.
Here are a few areas to consider when goal setting as a couple:
1. Spiritual Life
Our spiritual life is our whole lives together, but what you can specifically talk through when addressing your "spiritual life" are practices you want to strategically adopt in order to connect your marriage to the Lord better. Some ideas to get you started include: setting a goal to add seasonal times of strategic prayer and fasting, beginning a shared journal to write reflections and prayers for each other into, adding in a new rhythm of daily shared prayer time, setting a goal to attend in-person services at a local church, committing to strategically serving the community this year as a couple, increasing the percentage you are giving as tithes and gifts each month, reading through a bible study together or as a whole family, implementing a new family prayer time, finding more time for rest and sabbath time in your home, spending time in prayer as a family daily, creating music or art together that honors the Lord, or adding praise and worship to your families routine.
These are just a few ideas to help jump-start the conversation on how you can find ways to be more intentional about meeting with God as a couple regularly.
2. Financial Goals
Money can be a significant marriage stressor! Life gets so busy, and we don't often have time to mull over every purchase or to reflect on what our financial goals and progress towards reaching them may look like. Take time to think about what you would like to accomplish with the resources the Lord has given your home this year. It could be tackling some critical projects, sticking to a monthly budget (my husband and I love the Goodbudget App to help us keep track of expenses such as gas, groceries, and miscellaneous spending), a savings goal, a giving goal, getting debt-free, or making a plan to get a professionals help with your financial situation.
It's important to set up check-in times throughout the year with financial goals. You guys could commit to meeting monthly to review how you feel you are doing as a couple with finances and to discuss upcoming needs and expenses. Regular communication is vital to ensuring health and progress for this part of your married life.
3. Health Goals
Everyone first thinks of health and fitness goals when we think of new year's resolutions, but notoriously we are all so bad at sticking to these. I believe this is the case because we need the help of our spouse! It's not easy to stick to the whole 30 when your spouse is chowing down on Doritos right beside you. Setting health goals together is a great way to set you both up for success rather than failure.
Health goals should consider diet, exercise, mental health, sleep, nutritional needs, and health concerns that you feel need to be addressed by a professional. Help each other make time for wellness by making a plan of attack that offers the support both of you need to find a breakthrough in this area. Health is only maintained through lots of hard work. We need each other's support if we are going to live full, energetic, and healthy lives.
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4. Relationship Goals
I think it's important to make specific goals about how you want to sow into your marriage this next year! Our marriages way too easily fall to the back burner of our priority lists! We tend to invest in almost everything else more than each other. Let's change that this year.
Set goals for new things you want to do to spice up your sex life, figure out new ways to get some extra date nights in (or even better, a night or more away together this year), set goals for how to better communicate with each other daily, and make each other a priority for 2022. Your goal could be as simple as making a point to text each other more each day so you know that you are on each other's minds. Your goals don't have to be complex. They just have to be ways to commit to loving each other well over this next year.
5. Professional/Educational Goals
Our work life is what most of us sow the majority of our time and talents into. While we may not be at the same job as our spouses, the support we offer our partners makes a huge difference in allowing them to achieve their dreams. Talk about what you would like to accomplish in your work life this year. Figure out how you can support each other and encourage each other throughout the work week. Sometimes these goals can look like just finding more joy in your Monday through Friday, which our partners can certainly support us in.
6. Family Goals
What is your dream for your family this year? Is it trying a new way of teaching your kids? Is it going on a great vacation together? Becoming foster or adoptive parents? Serving your community more strategically? Saying no more so you have more evenings at home together? Learning a new skill together? Committing to using kinder words in your home? Implementing a new cleaning/chore list?
Most of us probably have a long list of family goals! Our homes always seem to be a place that requires the most from us, and that is just how God intended it to be. God gave you your spouse and children for a reason. Some of those reasons are to grow up your own character, but it's also because you are uniquely gifted to love your family well. Ask God and speak to each other about what loving each other well could look like in 2022.
Goal setting is a great way to add intentionality to your home. These goals are not about meeting a new benchmark with perfection or something to add to your already endless to-do list, but this practice is about setting a vision for your future. It's about prayerfully asking God to bless these dreams and help you both implement them as you go through this year. It's also about gratitude for what God has already done and the grace to understand that your love is not dependent on getting these things right.
Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She writes devotions for My Daily Bible Verse Devotional and Podcast, Crosswalk Couples Devotional, the Daily Devotional App, she has work published with Her View from Home, on the MOPS Blog, and is a regular contributor for Crosswalk.com. You can find out more about Amanda on her Facebook Page or follow her on Instagram.