Yes, this is another post about goals! As you can see, goal-setting is extremely important to us. We love spending the time thinking and praying about the next year and what we want to accomplish. For us it is a way to stay focused, to reach our end goal. For others, well, maybe you are tempted to stop reading right now. Wait! You don’t have to be as passionate about goals as we are. Instead of turning this into another list of goals, think about this post as a way to start conversations instead!
We have found that in the area of marriage and parenting it is so easy to procrastinate, avoid the needed conversations or settle for the status quo. Life is busy, we are tired and sometimes we just don’t want to put in the effort. You may be able to get away with this for a while but eventually your inattention to detail or avoidance will catch up to you.
God has big plans for you, your marriage and your children. He wants to use these relationships to grow you and your family into exactly what He created you to be. But to do this you need teamwork. You and your spouse need to be on the same page and both working together to get to the end goal. To be on the same page, you have to talk.
For us this is best achieved by sitting down each January and evaluating our current status. We look at the last year and discuss how it went. What did we do well? What could we have done better? We talk about what we forgot to do. (Much easier to do when you have the previous years goals written down.) Then we discuss why it didn’t get done. Is it actually not a priority any more, or do we need to keep it on the list for the next year and try again?
Not only does God want your marriage to be good, but He wants it to produce fruit. This requires work. It’s important that you spend time asking the hard questions and actively listening to your spouse. To be fully successful each person has to be willing to be honest and vulnerable and have a productive conversation on how to proceed from here.
Tips to Get Started:
- Set a date and time to discuss it. This way you can both be prepared and in the same mental box. It probably won’t go well if you just try to fit it in on a random evening.
- Pray before you get started. Ask the Lord to lead the conversation and direct your plans.
- Focus more on listening to your spouse’s heart than proving your point.
- Use “I” and “we” statements instead of “you.” Focus on what you can do versus what the other person should do. (You can only control you.)
- If it gets tense, pause and pray.
- It’s okay to need help. Sometimes the “how are we doing” talks can get frustrating and hard. Until you figure out a healthy rhythm for this type of conversation it is okay to ask someone for help. A trust friend, a pastor, a mentor or even a counselor. We have all needed help at some point or another!
Marriage Check up Questions:
- What aspect of our marriage is going well?
- What 1 or 2 aspects of our marriage do we want to work on this next year? (examples: communication, intimacy, time together, service )
- How can we improve our intimacy? (Ask your spouse- How can I make this aspect of our marriage more enjoyable for you? We recommend limiting this to 1-2 ideas and to keep in mind your spouse’s comfort level.)
- What is something I can do to serve you better? (examples: help with dishes, give them an hour of free time, iron their clothes, etc.)
- How can we make date nights a priority this year? (Check out this blog post for more ideas on this.)
- How can I speak your love language better? (If you don’t know your spouse’s love language, take the quiz here.)
- How can we invest in our marriage this year? (examples: time away together, books to read together, podcasts to discuss, marriage videos to watch or conferences to attend.)
God has big plans for your children too. They are constantly learning either from you or from the outside world. I want my children’s guiding principles to be rooted in God, and for that to happen I have to be actively parenting them and teaching them. The time with our kids really does go fast. We play a huge role in preparing them to be independent adults, but it takes focus and time. Here are the questions that we ask ourselves each year to help keep us on track. Some of the questions will have a common answer for all your children. Others will have a different answer for each child. Remember God made each of your children unique and sometimes that will require you to focus on different things.
- What new topic(s) do we want to explore and teach our children? (Examples: Think about their gifting and interests and also new things you want to expose them to. The topics can be in the areas of nature, history, sports, music, the arts or others that are important to you.)
- What character trait(s) do we want to develop or strengthen in our child? (Remember: At times we can come up with several but it is important to pray about what the Lord wants you to focus on for this year. Only He knows what their heart is ready to hear and learn.)
- How can we speak our child’s love language better? (Check out the quiz here if you don’t know which language is their primary.)
- What area of their spiritual development do we want to focus on this year? (examples: teaching them common Bible stories or reading a book of the Bible, learning about the Armor of God, prayer, worship, Christian worldview topics, etc.)
Individual focus on each child is important. Each of your children will be in a certain stage of life at different times. But they are all a part of your family. Focused and purposeful family time is equally as important. Here are the questions we ask to make sure we are creating a close knit family that does life together and supports each other.
- What activities do we want to do together as a family? (examples: meals together, bike riding, game night, family devotional, etc.)
- Who do we want to invest in by inviting them over or spending time with them? (You can have a list for the family and a separate one for each individual.)
- What vacations or outings do we want to do this year? (examples of outings: museums, nature centers, hikes, concerts, trampoline park, etc.)
- Where can we serve this year in our church, neighborhood, school and/or city?
As we enter into a new calendar year, let’s make it a goal to focus on those we love. Let’s learn how to encourage, support and love those who mean the most to us. And let’s have a little fun together doing it! Whether you have this conversation today or on a cold day in March, the date doesn’t matter. What matters is that you do it. Plan a time to start the conversation and see how God moves mightily in your family!
Download the conversation here!