Sharing goals, priorities and dreams with your spouse is a great activity to do when you get married as well as throughout your marriage. Share personal goals and make couple goals in your marriage. Marriage is more than two people living together; it is the intertwining of two lives to help each other and grow together as you achieve your goals - individually and as a couple.

Your goals are derived from your priorities

There are six basic priorities in life to think about: your relationship with God, your relationship with your spouse, your relationship with your family, your relationship with your friends, your education and career and your finances. These six basic priorities are then broken down into more specific priorities. It is important to remember that many of your priorities in life will change according to the different phases of life. For instance, your priorities as a single individual differ from your priorities as a married couple. Also, your priorities while you are attending school will be different than your priorities after you graduate.

Understand both your own and your spouse's priorities

Once you understand your own priorities and your spouse's priorities, you can begin setting goals - individually and as a couple. Setting goals is an important aspect of growing up and having a family for whom you are responsible. Acknowledging, setting and sharing your goals with each other will allow the two of you to be on the same page and work together toward your "happily ever after."

Make sure your goals are SMART

When setting goals, the ultimate question is what do you want to achieve in life? You need to understand how ambitious and motivated you are to accomplish your goals. You also want your goals to be SMART. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.

Consider your own and your spouse's circumstances before you were married

We each grow up under different circumstances which lead us to have certain beliefs. Recognize how this affects the goals you set. For example, I am an entrepreneur. My desire has always been to work shorter weeks, but longer hours. My wife came from a family where her father worked "regular" hours and was home in the evenings. My wife thought that I would go to work "regular hours" and be home in the evening like her father. Once we discussed each other's different perspectives, we understood each other better and were able to work through this difference and ultimately come to an agreement.

Create a bucket list

Do you have a bucket list? How does it compare to your spouse's bucket list? If you are not familiar with the term "bucket list," it is a list of things you want to accomplish and do before you die. This is a good place to begin when setting goals.

Set win-win goals with your spouse.

Goals can include any aspect of life or what you want to accomplish. They could include the lifestyle that you hope to have someday. Whatever your goals are, remember that goals in marriage should generally be cooperative goals which reflect a win-win attitude.

Write down your goals

When writing down goals, begin with the end in mind. In other words, start with long-term goals. Once you have written down your long-range goals, how will you achieve them? You rarely wake up one day having achieved your goals without setting short-term and interim goals first.

Be sure to write your goals down and discuss them with your spouse so you can refer to them often. Remember, a goal not written down is just a wish. As an activity, write down individual and couple goals. Break them down into 1-year, 5-year, 10-year and 20-year goals. Be sure to share and discuss them with your spouse.

Adapted by permission from: Playing 20 Questions With Your Fiance by: Russell C. Gaede, PsyD

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