Do you dream and set goals? What are the details…
I’m behind the 8-ball right now and playing catch-up with work and home stuff. It’s like 2020’s drunk cousin, 2021 entered the room and said, “You think 2020 was bad, hold my beer”.
With that said, evaluating last year and setting directions and goals for this year has been a slow and late process personally, at work, and as a couple. Yesterday, DW & I finally got away for about three hrs to a place to just evaluate, talk, and dream about this coming year and a little beyond.
How many of you sit down with your spouse at the end of the year, beginning of the year, or just some time during the year and talk, evaluate, even set goals about your marriage, finances, dreams, calendar, sexuality, romance, communication, issues, etc.? If you do, what do you do? When? Do you get away? Use a list questions, topics, etc?
OR do you have a specific time of the week or month where you sit down as a couple and bring anything to the table? Tony Evans talks about something like that in his marriage. They know that every week problems and issues can get discussed at this meeting so if there’s not time during the week, they have a date breakfast to do so. By doing that, it increases emotional intimacy and doesn’t allow things to grow and fester until someone explodes on the other.
If you do nothing like either of those things, why not? Have you considered it as a way to move the needle of dreaming, emotional connecting, and growing as a couple?
My husband sets goals and often preaches on it, but we don’t do it together and it’s not my thing personally. I can’t tell you why for sure, but I have a negative reaction towards it. I have become more of a one day at a time person and a “Don’t worry about tomorrow, for today has enough trouble of its own.”…. I would guess it has to do with freeing myself from anxiety, and learning to be present in the moment.
Just the other day, while my husband and I were in the car, he asked, “Is there anything you want to do this year?” It was a quick answer of “nope”. What I WANT to do, and what must be, are two different things…..because I honestly want to pull an Elijah (running and hiding in a cave somewhere 😉 )
I have done some introspection on “dreaming” in the past, when I thought I didn’t really have dreams and a friend challenged me on it. I came to a couple of conclusions, 1) I did have some dreams, and 2) I didn’t share them much because “Why? They didn’t really matter.” They didn’t either match my husband’s idea of a dream and/or he often dismissed them with practicality of “we don’t have the money.” And it could be a very simple dream of wanting a new bedset or a diamond anniversary band, or something much bigger for retirement years, but he had his list of why that “dream” wouldn’t work. When I did finally recognize what was going on, I did call him on what he was doing to me, and he changed. And I realize now, literally right now, he was confirming the message I got growing up, my thoughts and what I wanted really didn’t matter, I got what I got, so I learned to just adapt with what I had and take care of myself.
On the road taking boy back to college so I am on my phone and will likely edit my answer later. I am the planner; DW is not. I do not like to use our getaways to do this. It makes them more stressful and our getaways are to connect spiritually, emotionally and physically. But, as we near retirement and all the planning that entails, we find ourselves talking all the time about plans relating to that. Just today on the six hour round trip, we talked the entire time about our future. It made the trip go really fast. On dreams, DW has a couple of great business ideas for herself in retirement. I really hope she can pull them off. DW has told me a hundred times, “I will never be bored in retirement.” And, that’s probably true, she has a lot of irons in the fire. Sometimes, I think I’d like to be bored for a day or two.
We don’t have a specific, regular time where we discuss problems or dreams and stuff like that. We just do as necessary or when it comes up.
I would love to, but the biggest reason we don’t is because DH lacks the ability to even pretend or let himself go and imagine anything. He does not set goals as he thinks plans change too much, so why would he waste time? Finances, we discuss whenever the need arises. Problems, same thing, although the best discussion on any marriage related problems work best during a hot soak in the tub.
We have tried to discuss retirement dreams and goals, but right now they are so vastly different. I have such stress right now that it’s all I can do to just survive. One of DH’s retirement dreams is travelling and I HATE travelling, so it’s better that we don’t discuss that right now. It’s a tasshopper on my back that adds to the load. I did tell him we would have to figure something out so that we would both be happy. I don’t want to be like some older couples who can’t have pets or houseplants because they are always gone.
Personally, I like to use natural breaks of seasons and life to use for evaluation and planning. While DW & I have regular rhythms of life and communication about our dreams and goals, I thought we’d take some time so I arranged for us to head to an empty ministry place and sit with some warm drinks and work through something from FamilyLife (30 questions on body image, sex, faith & upbringing) and then just talk about the next year, parenting, financial stuff, vacation plans, work and family calendars, etc.
I believe dreaming and setting goals help couples increase communication. It helps people talk about vision and values which increasing intimacy. I’ve seen a couple on the brink of divorce go through Financial Peace University and talk about money, fears, values, dreams, etc. They ended up putting their marriage back together and credited going through FPU and talking about those things saved their marriage.
As I shared above with SC, I squelched a couple of DW’s home project ideas during the dreaming phase and had to apologize because I was wrong to do so, During the dreaming phase, the ideas are supposed to flow because it’s more important to hear her and for us to dialogue about the reason and why about their importance to each other. I’ll learn….some day. =/
The following links are some ideas to consider doing yourself and with your spouse. The one word goals I’ve heard on SEXY MARRIAGE RADIO and some other places. Could be a noun, adjective or verb. My phrase is “baby steps” for 2021. I shared it with my teams and challenged them to make 1-3 words or simple phrases that are memorable, actionable and even measureable.
SETTING GOALS TOGETHER (Focus on the Family)
ONE WORD GOALS (Mark Merrill)
I’ve tried many times to get him to do this. I read long ago about the importance of setting goals and working toward them together, and more recently about the concept of having a family ministry–something we all care deeply about and pour our energy and creativity into together in the name of Jesus. It’s supposed to bond the whole family together, teach our daughter about service, and ideally fulfill a purpose God has for us. I envision us choosing a charity that we throw our whole-hearted support to and volunteer regularly, or identifying some need that we can fulfill from our own resources while inspiring others to join us. At one point I was certain a fabulous family ministry for us would be to become a foster family and welcome a child who could really use a Dad, a Mom, a Sister, and Jesus. Hubby never felt that call, though, so we didn’t do that. As a matter of fact, DH doesn’t seem to feel called or drawn to any cause or need. I sometimes feel drawn to something, suggest it to him, he prays about it, and…nothing. He never hears anything. So nothing ever happens.
One reason is he is just not a long-term planner. He takes life as it comes, fulfills his responsibilities, handles problems as they arise, serves the Lord by doing whatever needs doing. For a while there was one dream he mentioned with half-hearted enthusiasm, but now is so convinced he is not up to the challenge he doesn’t even want to consider it anymore. (I have never, to my knowledge, discouraged him about it; just the opposite!) He always seems perfectly happy to let me make out my list and agree with everything I say, except when I talk about another bathroom and he says we can never do that because the property only perked for what we have. (Don’t perk tests change sometimes? Isn’t it worth at least checking instead of just assuming we can never add another bathroom??)
Oh sure, he’ll say he’d like to get healthier, get the yard in better shape, have more sex. He will sketch plans for amazing additions to the house that we won’t be able to afford for years and years (if ever), but I can’t remember him EVER saying any variation of, “I’d really like to do this Big Thing. Let’s see how we can make that happen!”
It’s true that some of the big things other people plan are simply irrelevant for us: we don’t need or want a new house, he has no desire for a different job, travel plans are a matter of me coming up with something I think he might be able to stand and then talking him into it, and we don’t buy new cars or have expensive hobbies. But that just means we ought to have room in our life for a Thing of Importance that leaves a mark and helps people. I so wish something would grab him by the heart and fuel his passion!
It’s a little bit of a tangent to the original question, but to me, a family Purpose would be a great anchor point for all our goals and plans. Otherwise, the things I’m putting on the lists he always agrees with are just temporary things.
Both DH and I are big planners. Our jobs have trained us in that, as both our jobs require heavy planning and review. On an individual level personally, we both use time management methods, and personal planning and review. We are still working on that as a couple though. One of our financial advisors talked about setting weekly and monthly financial reviews that would involve goal planning. I think that is a good goal for us for 2021. In the past I just ended up emailing a weekly/monthly financial review to him and our time together would get pushed as our weekly schedule filled up.
DH and I both LOVE travel and have always made it a priority. We make sure to go away by ourselves at least once every year. We do a lot of dreaming about travel together
I think spouses can really differ here, often because of personality and background. I always have specific ideas and plans for the future, small and large, while my wife is much more day-to-day.
One day we were having a conversation about future plans for the next few years; I intended it to be a happy conversation, but it got tense instead, which I didn’t expect. Finally she said, “Do you realize you were raised to dream? I wasn’t.” And it’s true – in my family we were always coming up with new ideas and activities, and I was encouraged to set my sights high for education and a career. Her family rarely tried new things and mostly stuck to what needed to be done. But the difference never really occurred to me because I thought everyone thought like I did.
Since that conversation and realization, we have gotten better at understanding our different orientations to the future and how we can adapt to this.
At the end of every year, I look back at the past year of what we got done and accomplished. I always set some goals for a new year, wife does not. She will say “ok” and that is about it. I ask her if the goals are ok and says sure. That is about it, she is not a planner for the future.
Eisenhower once said, “Plans are nothing, planning is everything.” However, a verse that means much to me in recent years, and it certain applies to 2020 and 2021 is: Many are the plans of a man’s heart, but IT is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21. So, plan as you glorify and honor the Lord.
I am naturally a planner and planning was always very critical to any success in my profession (general contractor.) What I did at work, I did at home, and planning and monitoring progress against the plan came naturally for me but not so much for DW. And for me, planning was always much more than simply verbalizing an objective or something I wanted to accomplish, change, do, be, etc. It was written down with specific metrics where our progress was measurable and there was clear understanding whether the goal had been achieved or not… at least for most things. DW was always supportive of my goals and enjoyed the fruits of my efforts financially, materially, etc. but her nature is to focus more on the near-term and take a “we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it” approach. So, for the things that mattered to me, I planned and she followed, and for the things that were not that important to me, we took her approach. Over time, we learned which was which and it has worked out fine for us.
Growing up, having enough money was always a problem in my FOO and I developed a compulsion to save as a young teenager… determination that I/we would never be destitute was a driver so living within our means and saving for retirement came very easily for me (us) and has, so far at least, served us well. I am blessed that DW’s values are such that she never felt that we needed to “keep up with the Joneses” or to show off, and she is naturally very generous (sometimes to a fault in that her desire to “rescue” sometimes interfered with “life lessons” our boys and others needed to experience growing up.) Like everyone else, over the course of our 46 yr marriage we went through some pretty tough times financially and our values and true source of security was tested. She passed with flying colors and demonstrated that she loved ME, not the money that I was previously earning. That meant a lot to me. She already believed (and I learned) that Jesus’s promises in Matthew 6:25-34 are true. Our faith is in Jesus, not our bank account, and we both strive to be worthy stewards of the material wealth and time that He’s entrusted us with. So, 21 months into retirement, we are both enjoying the fruits of our labor and I continue to monitor our retirement plan and tweak it as we go, but only as a steward, not an owner. Besides managing our finances and investments, another outlet for my compulsion is planning our travel in retirement… we can’t wait to go again when Europe opens back up.
As far as planning and setting goals for our MB, we are much more spontaneous and opportunistic now that our nest is empty. She already knows I would like to open up the playbook a bit more, and exactly how… but I don’t dwell on it and will open up that conversation again after some health issues she’s having and which are being addressed have been resolved.