12 relationship goals to set with your spouse
For a while, I often saw #CoupleGoals on various photos of couples on social media. Usually these were couples being lovey-dovey and usually I was doubtful how authentic they were. But these aren’t the kind of couple goals that we need in Christian marriages. We need to focus on our own relationship and not worry about anyone else’s.
My husband and I started off our marriage on a different path from many other couples from the very beginning. We got married in between my sophomore and junior years of college. Many people were naysayers about us getting married so young. And I understand that. It’s not the right choice for most, but it was the right choice for us. I’ve never regretted becoming a missus at age 20.
So early on, my husband and I learned to pave our own path with our marriage and relationship. In the 23 years since then, we’ve made our path work, and I love it. We didn’t sit down on our wedding day and come up with set goals. But, before we got married and in all the years since, we have talked about our relationship and our plans. We’ve worked together to envision what the future looks like for us as a couple. That’s what I think truly encompasses couple goals.
Whether you’re about to get married, one year into marriage, 10 years in or 25 years in, it’s never too late to talk about your marriage and what you need. This is the perfect time to set couple goals, starting with some of these ideas.
1. Go on regular date nights.
In the first decade of our marriage, going on regular date nights wasn’t much of a challenge. We didn’t have kids! But, especially since having our oldest 13 years ago, we learned we need to make spending time alone together a couples goal.
I remember when our oldest was a toddler and my husband and I had an evening to ourselves. In our conversation that evening, my husband told me he thought we’d have some work to do to reconnect with each other once the kids were grown and moved out. We decided we needed to be proactive to keep from growing apart during the hectic years of having small children.
We have found it easier to not have a set date night we adhere to, because life is unpredictable at best. Instead, we make use of the time we do have. And we get creative. For example, earlier this week we took our dog to be groomed after dropping the kids off at school and then had a quick breakfast out together alone.
2. Find new ways to connect.
In making dates a priority, we also work to find new ways to connect with one another. We do enjoy date nights of going out to eat and/or to a movie. But, we also want to find new ways to connect with one another. We have gone to paint pottery together in the past. We’ve walked through home stores and dreamed together.
Most recently, we’ve tried out date night boxes. For Christmas 2022, my husband gave me a subscription to a date night box from Crated with Joy. Each box is themed and comes with suggestions for movies, food, games and activities. Our first box, for example, included a gratitude journal for us to each fill out for 14 days about our partner. The boxes have been a great way for us to reconnect and have fun in new ways.
3. Enjoy hobbies together.
If you’d have asked me when we were first married whether my husband and I would find hobbies we’d do together, I probably would have been confused. My biggest hobbies are solo ventures. But, within the first few years of our marriage, I started taking an interest in his hobbies. I love him, and so I wanted to know more about the things he loves.
And that’s how I became a gamer. My husband has enjoyed role-playing games since long before I met him. (Since we met when I was 14 and he was 16, that’s pretty significant!) I never quite understood the draw to them. I decided to combine my hobby of reading with his hobby of role playing by reading a fictional book series based in the Dungeons and Dragons setting. Before I knew it, “The Legend of Drizzt” series became my all-time favorite, and I eased my way into gaming.
Having shared hobbies is an important couple goal because it lets you connect in different ways than usual.
4. Worship together regularly.
As a Christian couple, my husband and I have always felt like God is the third person in our marriage. And so one of our couple goals is to connect with God together. A great way to do that is through worship. A few months after we got married, my husband started a class that took place all day on Sundays. For a year, I went to church alone as a married woman.
When his class ended and we were able to go to church together once again, I appreciated it all the more. I love sitting beside him in church and joining together to worship and grow spiritually. Just this past Sunday, I closed my eyes during our praise songs and was blessed to hear my husband singing on the left of me and my kids singing on the right. My heart was full and I reminded that no matter what is going on, I am so very blessed!
5. Find ways to discuss big topics peacefully.
Communication has to be on any list of couple goals. No matter how well you and your spouse get along, there are hot-button topics that need to be discussed and resolved. I’m talking about the big stuff like finances and parenting.
When we were figuring out finances as a couple, we decided to work on them together, but I’d be the primary person dealing with bill paying. Mostly that’s because I stress a lot less when I know what’s going on! However, that also meant whenever we had a discussion about our finances, especially if money was tight, I’d take it personally. I would feel attacked and assume I was messing up.
We had to work through that. Now, I still can have moments when I start to take it personally, and my husband will pause to remind me (nicely) that I don’t need to. We’re just having a conversation.
Figure out each other’s hot button topics and then learn how to communicate in spite of them. You don’t want to use those against each other, but rather to help each other.
6. Laugh together regularly.
As a married couple, you want to have fun together. Nothing is more indicative of fun than laughter. Make laughter a priority. Set it as a goal. Find ways you can laugh together. My husband gets my sense of humor and makes me laugh more than anyone else in the world. He always has.
Life is hard. Keeping a sense of humor is important. Once you’re in the habit of laughing together regularly, you can even indulge in gallows humor to get your through the hard times. For example, a few years ago, as I was recovery from one of my pelvic surgeries, I was slowly walking laps around our living room to try and get some movement in. It was a struggle. My second time around, my husband started playing the “William Tell Overture.” I was off to the races! He gave me a much needed laugh.
7. Study the Bible together.
Another great couples goal for Christian marriages is to study the Bible together. This has had a few iterations in our decades of marriage. We have done specific couples Bible studies just the two of us. We have family devotion time with our children. And, more recently, we’ve found a small group study through our church we can attend as a couple.
One of the things I love most about studying the Bible with my husband is hearing his insight. He is such a smart man. I’m thankful to hear his perspective on spiritual topics, which is sometimes different from my own. He makes me think, and I’m glad for that. I hope I do the same for him.
8. Parent together.
We approach life as a team. That teamwork mentality has continued into parenting. Before we even had children, we talked about how we wanted to raise them. And since having children, we’ve continued having those discussions. We talk about how we want to discipline, the lessons we want to teach them and how we can parent them better.
We have agreed on many things, while on others we haven’t and have had to work through them to come to a solution. Our goal is to present a united front to our children. We want to be on the same page so they don’t get confused or anxious as a result.
9. Don’t make threats you don’t mean.
When we got married, my husband and I made it a goal to not threaten each other with things we didn’t mean. Sometimes when people are upset, they say things to be mean or hurtful in order to lash out. For example, we decided early on that if either of us talked about divorce, we’d better mean it. Divorce wasn’t a threat to throw around lightly.
Threats are just hurtful to a relationship and have no place in good communication. Make it a goal to not use threats with your spouse.
10. Pray together and for each other.
Prayer is an important part of Christian marriage. My husband and I pray for each other more than we pray together, because that’s what works for us. But both are important. Coming before God jointly is powerful in your relationship with each other and with God.
Praying on your own for each other is powerful as well. I pray daily for my husband as he is dealing with life, work and family. When he is having a difficult time with something, I remind him I’m praying for him and do so. There’s something comforting about knowing someone loves us enough to bring us before God.
11. Speak kindly to and about each other.
Another great couple goal is to strive to use kind words to each other. This goes as far as asking nicely for the other to do a chore that needs doing. If I can speak kindly to strangers I encounter at the grocery store, surely I can speak kindly to the man I’m sharing my life with. Yet, sometimes it can be difficult. So, sometimes I just keep my mouth shut!
We also work to speak positively about each other outside of our relationship. Neither of us are perfect. I know my husband has things he could grouse about when it comes to me. And I have the same about him. But, we don’t focus on those things, and we don’t talk about them with other people. Instead our goal is to speak positively about each other to our children and everyone else.
12. Give each other grace.
You know I have to include this one! I think giving grace to each other should be a couple goal for every marriage. I want so much to have a grace-filled marriage. I want my husband to give me grace when I fall short because I’m not perfect. In return, I need to also give him grace when he falls short. We all have bad days and bad moments. Oftentimes, a little grace can go a long way to avoid arguments and hurt feelings. And it makes us feel more loved and understood in the end.