Perhaps you’ve heard the saying: Failure to plan is a plan to fail.
So many people fail to experience the fullness of their ambitions in all sorts of areas such as health, friendships, career etc. simply because they fail to plan. Without a plan, we are like a ship adrift on the sea. Currents push us in random directions and take us to places we’d never choose to go.
The same principle applies to marriage.
The most vital step of a plan is defining your goal. What kind of marriage do you want? What behaviours or qualities are essential to your ideal marriage?
Do you want intimate involvement in each other’s life?
Do you want compassion and nurturing to be a feature?
Do you long for passionate and frequent lovemaking?
Is shared recreational interests part of your vision?
What about intellectual exchange, spiritual intimacy, having fun together or being free to pursue individual interests?
What role will family (immediate and extended) play in your life?
Like a compass, having a defined goal or vision gives you direction. And there’s nothing like committing your vision to paper to really help you think it through and own it. So if you write it down you multiply the power of your vision to actually effect your reality.
Once you have a clear picture of your relationship goals, you are now in a better position to evaluate your marriage and what you need to do to transform it into the marriage you want. In other words, make a plan. Start with small steps: if you long for intimate involvement, ask ‘what would be one simple, concrete, daily gesture I could do to foster this?’ Perhaps consciously expressing your appreciation for your spouse? Or writing a love note? Or phoning to say “Ilove you and I’m thinking about you”?
Commit it to paper.
Set your mobile alarm to remind you.
If it’s not working so well, re-evaluate your plan: perhaps your steps are too ambitious or too vague? When it’s become routine for you, add another small step.
And remember: change takes effort and it takes time.
Don’t throw away your vision just because you strayed from your plan for a few days or even a month. Nourish your will to change by recommitting regularly to your goals and watch your marriage grow.
Francine & Byron Pirola are the founders and principal authors of the SmartLoving series. They are passionate about living Catholic marriage to the full and helping couples reach their marital potential. They have been married since 1988 and have five children.
Their articles may be reproduced for non commercial purposes with appropriate acknowledgement and back links.