How to Set Goals with Your Spouse

4 steps to building marital success

No matter what you’re trying to accomplish, when you set goals, you’re more likely to succeed. Your sense of competition and drive probably won’t let you fail when there’s a specific, attainable goal to be reached. This is true in the business world, and it’s also true in your marriage. If you set goals with your spouse, you’re likely to achieve them. But you can’t set just any goal. There’s a strategy to setting good goals, goals you probably will accomplish. Read on to learn more about this strategy.

Step 1: Set realistic, short-term goals

Setting goals can only help you achieve success if the goals you set are attainable. Often, people equate goal-setting with magic — thinking they’ll automatically achieve their goals just because they’ve written them down or posted them. Goals don’t make you superhuman. You can only accomplish your goals by setting ones that you are capable of accomplishing anyway; goals just help you make it across the finish line.

So when you set goals, don’t think too big. Start out with small goals that can be achieved in a relatively short period of time. Once you’ve felt the high that achieving goals can produce, you’ll be ready, and motivated, to attain harder, longer-term goals.

Step 2: Be very specific in your goal-setting

Imagine that you’re in high school and your teacher gives you a goal for the day. By the end of the day, you’re supposed to be a better scientist. This sounds like a great goal, considering you’re in science class, but there’s one glaring problem — the teacher’s done nothing to tell you how you become a better scientist. This problem may occur when you learn how to set goals in your marriage. If you simply say, “We want to be better at marriage,” you probably won’t reach your goal. To ensure that you will reach your goal, be specific.

Relationship coach Richard Nicastro, Ph.D., recommends specific goals that you might set with your spouse, such as improving communication, making sure household work is divided fairly and understanding your partner’s feelings about physical intimacy.

Step 3: Memorialize your goals in a place where you will see them often

No matter how achievable or specific your goals are, you’re not going to attain them if you don’t make their presence known in your lives. Begin with writing a list of your goals and discussing them to make sure you’re both clear on what they mean.

Step 4: Set a timeframe

Next, give yourselves an achievable timeframe, breaking your larger goals down into easier-to-accomplish, smaller steps — each with their own deadlines. This will motivate you both to complete your goals. And give yourselves rewards for those times when you accomplish the goals you set.

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