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New Year’s resolutions are all about setting (and usually forgetting) goals for the year. But do you have goals for your marriage? These could be goals that you set every year. Or they could be something you’re planning on more long term.

Either way, there should be something that you and your spouse are trying to achieve through your marriage. That could be something as simple as staying married another year. Or it could be a more lofty goal, like positively impacting other marriages around you.

But once you’ve set goals in your marriage, how do you actually achieve them? How do you take them from idea to reality? Here are a few steps that you and your spouse can take to accomplishing your marriage goals. 

Discuss Them

Believe it or not, it’s difficult to finish a goal you don’t know about. So if you have a goal for your marriage, but haven’t told your spouse (or vice versa), how do you expect for it to happen?

That’s why it’s important that you talk over your goals with your spouse. Schedule a time to sit down and only talk about your goals. This could take an hour, or an entire afternoon. Just be sure to clearly communicate what you have in mind that you want to achieve in your marriage.

Having a conversation to decide what your goals are—for both the coming year and beyond—will help you both get on the same page. This discussion will also help you filter through which goals are actually realistic to achieve, and which are just pipe dreams.

Write Them Down 

Once you’ve taken the time to discuss and decide your marriage goals with your spouse, write those goals down. As in, physically write each one down on a piece of paper. Because the act of actually writing these goals on paper will help show you’re serious about committing to them.

Take that sheet of paper and put it in a place that you’ll both see it regularly—on the fridge, on your bathroom mirror, in your car. This will help you keep those goals top of mind and serve as a subtle reminder to continue working towards them through the year.

Now, you may also want to transfer these goals to a digital format, too. Maybe it’s easier for you to remember them if you add reminders to your online calendar, or put them on a digital task list.

These are perfectly fine options, too. But having the goals written on a physical sheet of paper will help to raise them above the clutter that comes with technology solutions.

Check on Them Periodically

Even if you have your goals in a place that you see them often doesn’t mean you’ll actually do anything to achieve them. After a few weeks of glancing at them taped to your bathroom mirror, they’ll probably become invisible. Just another thing to ignore.

So how do you make sure that doesn’t happen? How do you help these goals stand out during a long and busy year? Carve out more time to occasionally check in with your spouse on your progress. Go ahead and schedule a few meetings now to discuss this during the year.

These check ins could be monthly or quarterly—however often you think is realistic to helping you meet these goals. Scheduling them ahead of time helps make sure they actually happen.

This may sound too corporate to you, but I’d argue that businesses are usually better at finishing goals than most marriages. Even if marriage goals are more important.


Give Yourself an Incentive 

For some, the accomplishment of actually achieving the goal might be motivation enough. But most of us aren’t like that. We need another reason to keep us focused on the goal in mind. How can we encourage ourselves now to make the goals happen?

There are two basic ways to motivate yourself: rewards or consequences. Some people are more motivated by rewards—getting to go a vacation, or buying a small gift. Others are motivated more by consequences—losing a privilege, or being forced to do something they’d rather not. 

Figure out which type of motivation works best for you. This may vary for each spouse, or depending on each goal. Either way, you need to build in some method of holding yourself accountable to the goals you set. These don’t have to be life-or-death, but even small incentives made a difference.

What goals do you have for your marriage?