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Marriage is one of the most beautiful and most challenging journeys in life. It’s full of peaks and valleys.
Sometimes, we get stuck in the valleys, and the peaks can look far away. This often happens when there isn’t enough mutual support or understanding for each other. But once you’re aware of what needs fixing, it’s time to act.
What better way to start than by creating SMART goals for marriage? In this article, we’ll share the secret to a stronger marriage through setting achievable goals.
What Are SMART Goals?
Every person has dreams and aspirations. Some long for success, while others seek meaningful relationships. Most want to be happy with what they have.
Regardless of what our ambitions might be, we set goals to achieve them. But there’s often a problem with how we set those goals. If they’re too lofty, we might never actually reach them.
In theory, setting a goal is simple. Just jot down an outcome and stamp it with a deadline. But once you have to act, it becomes clear that it takes much more than that. SMART goals are plans you can create and stick to easily.
The SMART method redefines the way you set goals. They’re not about focusing on long-term results. Instead, they’re about defining precisely what, how, and when you want to do something.
For example, a simple “I want to be happy in my marriage” statement doesn’t lay a path to success. How will you achieve this goal? When? And what does “being happy in marriage” even mean to you?
With SMART goals, you set specific objectives to help you reach the desired outcome.
The acronym “SMART” stands for “specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.” Let’s dive into what each one means in practice.
The primary purpose of a specific goal is to answer the “W” questions: “Who?” “What?” “When?” “Where?” “Why?” and “Which?” Identifying each of these elements will help you realize what you have to do to reach your goal.
Goals can be measured with any number of different metrics. What’s important is that you can follow the plan and track your progress along the way. Also, this will help you see if adjustments need to be made on the fly. Measurable goals answer the “How?” questions: “How much?” “How many?” “How often?” etc.
Setting attainable goals is crucial to actually complete them. Do you think it’s possible to lose 40 pounds in a month? Of course not. Even if it were, it would be too unhealthy for you to do so. The key is in setting achievable goals.
Set the goals you have the tools and skills to accomplish on time. Challenging goals are excellent, but you have a much higher chance of feeling frustrated and giving up if they are simply too lofty to reasonably attain.
So instead of setting just one big goal, go for five smaller objectives that will help you achieve the big one in the long run. Plus, your motivation levels will stay higher when you know you can do it.
How relevant is this goal you want to achieve? You don’t want to invest the time and effort into goals that are irrelevant to what you want to do or become. Time is money, especially in the modern-day world.
There are probably plenty of things you want to achieve in life. But try to stay focused on each individual goal as you plan to ensure you’re making progress on them.
Deadlines create a sense of urgency. Would you have ever written that high-school history essay if it wasn’t due the next day? You want to set a deadline for your goal, no matter how big or small.
When you know the clock is ticking, you’ll feel more responsible for reaching the small milestones. After all, you can only meet your weekly goals if you complete the daily ones.
Creating SMART goals is one of the best things you can do to get what you want from life. You can learn more on how to set SMART goals by visiting this link.
Why SMART Goals Are Important for Marriage
Few things in life require more tolerance and understanding than marriage. Each person has to make a lot of compromises throughout their life together. After all, being happily married is nothing more than making it through the ups and downs and appreciating them for what they are.
If you feel like your marriage isn’t right where you want it to be, you can do plenty of things to improve the relationship you have with your spouse. SMART goals can help you with that.
With SMART goals, you’ll take small steps that will ultimately lead to that feeling of belonging you’re after.
For example, maybe the reason your partner isn’t attentive stems from the need for better communication skills. We know that conversations are the ultimate problem solvers, but they can also be problem starters.
Another reason for bumps in the road may be that you or your partner need more emotional independence. Plenty of things can make your marriage feel like it needs some help.
If you want to strengthen the emotional or physical bonds between you, you may not always know where to start. Luckily, setting SMART goals for marriage can make a difference. Here are eleven examples.
11 SMART Goals Examples for Marriage
1. Schedule Alone Time
“To recharge from my daily stresses and be a better spouse, I’ll schedule half an hour of alone time. I will do so two times per week for two months.”
S: This is a specific goal, stating precisely what, when, and why you want to accomplish it.
M: It says to schedule two sessions per week, making it easy to measure your goal progress.
A: Half an hour is not that much time to spend alone, but it can have a significant impact. You can always adjust the time to a number that better fits you.
R: The goal is to recharge from stresses to be a better spouse, and spending time alone is essential for making this happen.
T: Two sessions per week mean there should be no postponing or rescheduling. Make sure you get some quality time with yourself regularly. Then, you can re-assess after the two months are up.
2. Encourage my Spouse
“Over the next month, I will encourage my spouse on their work- or life-related projects every day to help motivate them to pursue their dreams. In addition, I will speak to them in a supportive tone, listening to their concerns with empathy to show that I care.”
S: Everything is specific about this goal. The “W” questions are all answered here.
M: The goal is measured by the number of days you perform small tasks, give supportive advice, and listen to help your spouse feel heard and motivated.
A: There’s nothing unachievable about supporting your spouse in what matters to them. This is one of the keys to a healthy and happy marriage.
R: The goal is to strengthen your marriage, and doing so is impossible without supporting each other.
T: You’ll do this every day for one month, after which time you can extend or adapt your strategy based on your level of success.
3. Organize Date Nights
“To strengthen our bond over the next twelve months, I’ll organize two date nights per month for my spouse and me at a location we both love.”
S: This goal is specific, and it answers the questions who, what, when, where, and why.
M: Two date nights per month over one year lets you measure your goal progress each month. The date nights should add up to 24 total throughout the year. Consider planning extra dates if you need to skip one, or even plan to make up for it later.
A: The goal is achievable. Regardless of how hectic your life gets, you can devote a couple of hours two times per month to dine out, see a movie, or do whatever you and your partner like to do together.
R: This goal aligns with the long-term plan of strengthening your marriage by spending more quality time together.
T: The goal spreads over one year, meaning you want to get those 24 date nights completed before the end of the year.
4. Limit Screen Time
“To spend more time with my spouse over the next month, I will limit my screen time to one hour per day.”
S: This is a specific goal as it states who, what, when, and why you’ll do what it says.
M: The measurable part of the goal is “one hour per day.” You can tweak this measure if necessary, so it suits your lifestyle better. For example, maybe you use the phone for work. In that case, you can limit the activity type you do on your phone. Either way, reduce the social media time or news reading to a minimum.
A: This goal is achievable. It’s not like you’re limiting your screen time too drastically. Still, the change will be noticeable.
R: The goal is relevant to your ultimate goal of strengthening your marriage and the bond between the two of you by spending less time with your attention elsewhere.
T: After one month, you’ll get to see the difference this goal has made and decide if you want to keep it around as a general rule.
5. Show Gratitude
“To express my appreciation over the next month, I will tell my spouse one thing they did for me that I’m thankful for each day.”
S: Showing gratitude once per day is a specific goal.
M: You only have to say one thing each day that made you grateful, making this easy to measure your progress.
A: Even if you can’t think of something specific they did for you that day, you could mention something they did in the past. It can be a simple thing like how they helped you change a lightbulb, the way they comforted you when you were sad, or even the dinner they made last week.
R: The goal is to strengthen your marriage by showing appreciation for your spouse, so telling them about the times you feel grateful is directly relevant to it.
T: Working on a goal once per day for 30 days is a great way to make it timely.
6. Watch Only One Episode of My Favorite Show
“Over the next two weeks, I will limit myself to watching only one episode of TV shows per day and spend the rest of the evening intimate with my partner.”
S: This specific goal explains how you will make more room for intimacy in your relationship.
M: This is an easily measurable goal. If you’re used to watching TV shows each night, you should watch no more than one episode.
A: This goal is achievable. It’s not like you’re depriving yourself of the TV shows completely (or whatever it is that keeps you busy). Instead, you’re just making more room for other, more important things.
R: The main goal is to strengthen your marriage and spend more time with your partner, and this goal is relevant.
T: Over the next two weeks, you can see how this affects your relationship with your spouse.
7. Pursue Outside Interests and Encourage the Same from Your Partner
“Next month, I will propose that we each find a way to enjoy one of the activities we don't share at least once every other week. Each partner will choose an activity and a day where they are free to pursue their activity with friends without the other partner making plans to prevent it or complaining.
After doing this for six months, we will decide together whether this plan needs to be revised or it should continue as is.”
S: You are specific in stating that each partner can have one day, how often this will occur, and the behavior expected from each partner.
M: It will be easy to measure by keeping track of who gets their day out each time and how well the other partner reacts.
A: As long as certain guidelines are in place, this is a perfectly attainable goal.
R: Being free to pursue interests our partners don't enjoy without subjecting them to enduring the activity helps build trust, shows compassion, and is related to a good marriage.
T: You mention when you will bring this up, how often the activity will take place, and when you will re-evaluate. All this makes this a time-bound goal.
8. Speak Their Love Language
“I will make an effort to observe my partner this week and discover their love language. Starting next week, I will do one small thing a day that uses that knowledge so that my partner feels my love.
I will also speak with them about what my love language is and hope they will follow suit with the information. I will keep this up indefinitely, and keep a journal of how my partner responds to my efforts.”
S: You make it clear what you are seeking to do and how often you will use the knowledge you gain. You also mention why. This makes it a specific goal.
M: It will be easy to measure because you know when you do something in your partner's love language. You could keep track if you want until it becomes a habit.
A: This goal is completely attainable on your part. You can't control how your partner accepts your efforts.
R: Learning to relate to others in their personal love language is the only sure way they truly know you love them. This is necessary for a good marriage.
T: You mention that this will start the upcoming week and continue indefinitely. That makes this time-bound.
9. Work on Financial Independence
“During the last week of this month, I will ask my partner to sit down with me and work on a budget for the household. I will then discuss us setting up three bank accounts, mine, yours, and ours. We will each put our share of household expenses in the OURS account.
Any money left will go into our individual accounts and we will not argue about how each of us spends our personal money. Hopefully, this will eliminate the arguments over financial issues.”
S: You are very specific with this goal. You mention what you want to do and how you want to go about it. You also indicate why you want to do this.
M: The measure of this goal will be actually opening the accounts and keeping track of any disagreements as to spending habits.
A: With your partner's cooperation, this is a perfectly attainable goal.
R: One of the most frequent causes of arguments in a relationship is money. This will help solve many of the common issues that come up.
T: You mention that this will take place during the last week of the current month, which makes this a time-bound goal.
10. Communicate Openly and Effectively
“We both tend to shut down when angry or sad and this creates problems. Starting next month, I will propose we take a communication class together so we can learn how to communicate with each other instead of shutting each other out.
The local family center offers one that is weekly and looks like a good fit. We will commit to finishing this course.”
S: You make this a specific goal by stating what you will do and where, as well as when. You also give a reason for doing it.
M: This is an easily measured goal because you will know whether you attend and finish the class or not. You will also be able to determine if you are opening up more to each other.
A: This is a completely achievable goal as long as both you and your partner are willing to put in the time and effort.
R: Good communication is key to any relationship, especially in a marriage. This makes this goal relatable.
T: This goal is time-bound because it involves an outside class that has a clear beginning and end.
11. Touch Daily
“I will make it a point, starting tomorrow, to actively spend time giving my partner a meaningful touch. This may be a long hug, a neck massage, a passionate kiss, or some other touch that is meant to convey my love in a way that isn't simply automatic.
I will continue doing this and will watch for success by seeing if my partner starts to initiate such contact with me.”
S: You make this specific by stating that you will make the time each day to give a specific type of touch. You also mention when you will start.
M: You can easily keep track of whether or not you follow through by marking a check on the calendar or on a tally sheet.
A: You are in complete control of your actions, so this is an attainable goal.
R: It has been proven by science that touch is important for everyone so this is a goal that relates well to marriage.
T: You state that you will begin this tomorrow and do it at least once a day. That makes it time-bound.
Final Thoughts on SMART Goals for Marriage
Marriage is full of challenges, and it’s essential to have a solid foundation that can handle the setbacks.
However, that foundation also needs to be strong enough to push you back up. SMART goals for marriage can help you strengthen that foundation.
Check out this blog post for printable spreadsheets to help you implement your SMART goals with ease.
If you're planning your wedding, this post about how to create a vision board for your dream wedding can help.
And if you want more SMART goal ideas and examples, be sure to check out these blog posts:
- 13 SMART Goals Examples for Improving Your Communication Skills
- 6 SMART Goals Examples to Improve Your Relationship
- 5 SMART Goal Examples to Practice Daily Self-Care
Finally, if you want to take your goal-setting efforts to the next level, check out this FREE printable worksheet and a step-by-step process that will help you set effective SMART goals.