Whether you're a New Year's resolutions person or not, the science is clear that defining clear goals makes it more likely you will reach them. Have you considered some relationship goals for your marriage for 2020?
As one year ends and another begins, I take some time to look at the year that has been, and consider some goals for the new year. I look at several areas of my life—physical well-being, emotional health, material/financial, ministry strategy and my own spiritual life. I look at what's working and what's not working, and what I want to change in the new year.
The details of that process can vary, but prayerfully reviewing where you are is healthy. Are you heading in the direction you want to go when it comes to your marriage? Where do you need to adjust your actions today so you can reach your desired destination tomorrow? What is God's opinion on the direction of your marriage?
Your relationship goals will vary depending on where you are right now, and what stage your marriage is in. But let me suggest three categories of goals to prayerfully consider.
How You Show Up to Your Spouse
What's it like to be married to you? Are you bringing your best self to your marriage? If you were your spouse, would you want to come home to you?
This is not about magnifying any area where you may be less than your best; it's about taking an honest look and owning responsibility for what is within your ability to control. That's primarily your own thoughts, words, actions, behavior, responses and more.
Where might you want to step up the way you show up to your spouse? Do you need to choose a more positive attitude? Forgive more generously? Speak the truth in love more consistently? Take care of yourself more wisely so you have more to bring to the marriage? Deal with some old baggage so you are freer to love well?
Now, what action are you going to take to change how you show up to your spouse?
How You Understand Your Spouse
In every relationship, and most importantly in marriage, it's important to seek to understand before seeking to be understood. How well do you understand your spouse? Are you actively seeking to understand him/her better?
Your own emotional buttons get pushed so easily that it's often difficult to step back and fully appreciate your spouse's perspective. This does not mean accepting bad behavior! But it does mean intentionally seeking to understand their heart, fears, desires, past experiences and so on.
Take some time to pray about this. Make the effort to get outside of your own emotional turmoil and look at the world through your spouse's eyes. God will use your efforts to increase your compassion, understanding and ability to communicate wisely.
When are you going to take some time to prayerfully seek to understand your spouse? What reminder will you create to do this regularly?
How You Pursue Intimacy
God continually pursues intimacy with us, even when we don't respond well. God created you and your spouse in His image, with the need, desire and capacity for intimacy. And intimacy doesn't just happen; it takes pursuing.
Don't fall into the trap of saying "My wife won't have sex" or "My husband just won't talk," and therefore intimacy is impossible. Those can be specific expressions of intimacy, but intimacy is about much more. And there is plenty of sex and plenty of communication where no intimacy exists. Remember that you cannot change your spouse; you can only invite. And you and God can work together to change you.
The better you understand your spouse, the better you will know how to pursue intimacy with him/her. A few thoughts especially for husbands and especially for wives may be helpful. Look at the world through your spouse's eyes and imagine what would make them want to come closer to you.
So whether it's physical, emotional or spiritual intimacy, what are you going to do next in creating the space for your spouse to want to come closer?
What kind of spouse do you want to be? These three categories of goals don't require anything specific from your spouse; they focus only on things you can do something about. But as you change, your relationship will change!
Once you've looked at your own heart, many couples will want to communicate about their goals with each other, and craft some shared goals for their relationship. When your spouse is willing, that can be powerful! And I pray you and your spouse are able to do that.
May God show you His goals for your relationship this year and empower you in walking toward them.
Your Turn: What kind of spouse you want to be in your marriage? What next action are you going to take in becoming that kind of spouse? Leave a comment below.
Dr. Carol Peters-Tanksley is both a board-certified OB-GYN physician and an ordained doctor of ministry. As an author and speaker, she loves helping people discover the "fully alive" kind of life Jesus came to bring us. Visit her website at drcarolministries.com.
This article originally appeared at drcarolministries.com.
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