Friday, December 31, 2010

Setting Your "State of Our Union" Relationship Goals

My husband and I began setting "State of Our Union" goals back in January 2001 during our first year of marriage. Through the years, we've achieved some of the goals while others get moved to a new year. Every now and then we will drop off some goals from the list as circumstances change. The process is not meant to induce guilt, it gives you a new way forward to avoid the insanity of doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results!

Here's a draft on how to set up your "State of Our Union" goals. Feel free to modify your list and process:
  1. Remind yourself Albert Einstein's quote "Insanity is doing the same things over and over while expecting different results."
  2. Set aside at least an hour to an hour and a half. If you tend to have verbal fights over such discussions, make it a date and head out to a coffee joint or an outdoors location. A change of location erases excuses to keep repeating the same behavior. You will need at least four pieces of paper.
  3. Each of you should write down on a blank piece of paper ten things you were grateful for about the past year. An attitude of gratitude reminds you there's always a silver lining in storm clouds. The thankful list can include your couple achievements, parenting, individual professional or spiritual achievements among others. 
  4. Take turns sharing your individual "grateful list". It has the added benefit of reminding you positive events that you forgot because of a few bad ones. Limit your discussion to positive responses to maintain your thankful attitude.
  5. Pull out two more pieces of paper and title it "Our Couple Goals For 2011" or whatever you prefer. Take turns suggesting shared goals for the year as one of you writes them down.
  6. Describe your goals in a positive tone to avoid unnecessary fights or misunderstandings.  
  7. Make your goals measurable - "spend more time together" becomes "spend more time together by reducing online activity, TV and having a weekly date night on Fridays". 
  8. Make your goals achievable - "get a promotion at work" becomes "get a promotion at work through taking on more projects, bringing in more clients, making more sales etc. Then commit to research if you need additional training to achieve your professional goals.  
  9. Make your goals realistic - "We will stop fighting" becomes "We will fight fair by learning how to disagree without disrespecting each other." Then go out to a bookstore and purchase a couple's book like "Fighting For Your Marriage" by Dr. Stanley among others. You can also sign up for a relationship class or a parenting class to improve your knowledge and behavior.
  10. Pray over your new goals and sign the document together to signify your commitment and place it in an accessible place.
  11. Set up a time to review your goals progress and reward yourselves. In our case we look at the list again in June (mid-year) to evaluate our progress. We celebrate achieved ones, move others to the next year, drop others off the list or commit to completing them before the end of the year.
There's inevitable disappointment when a major goal is not achieved but instead of avoiding the issue, sit down together and realistically discuss what you can change in the new year. One of our 2010 goals did not materialize and it was a source of great disappointment for us. We decided to move it to the new year and approach the issue from a different angle while realizing some of the moving parts were not in our control.

You cannot conquer what you do not face - chin up and work through it, your reward will be more than worth it! Thomas Edison shared that instead of failing 1000 times to create a light bulb, he discovered 1000 ways on how not to create a light bulb - perspective matters! On of the most motivating books that my husband bought for us is "The Success Principles" by Jack Canfield.  If you are looking for a new book this year to motivate you, I recommend it.

I wish you a successful and joyful 2011!


  1. This is a great way for couples to stay in contact with each other. Let's face it, with all the day-to-day demands of jobs and kids, it's easy to lose track of one another. You look up one day, and you're not even looking at each other any more. Making a conscious effort to stay in touch - such as this list building ideas - is a great way to keep the home fires burning.

  2. Thanks for great information you write it very clean. I am very lucky to get this tips from you.

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