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Marriage Work-Out Team Building

Chapter 3: Marital Goal Setting

In order to achieve a fruitful Marriage Work-Out, a couple must have a clear idea of their goals. Most couples go into marriage with a vague understanding of marital goals. When pressed to describe them, couples are often either unable to specify or to agree on mutual goals. Marital goals should be stated, written down, and agreed upon by the partners either at the beginning of the marriage or when a renewed commitment to the marriage is made. The goals should be documented in a behavioral contract signed by both partners. The goals set down should be only those to which both partners fully agree and can claim ownership. The marital goal contract should be kept in a safe place so that a regular review of the document is possible. Goals can be modified, and objectives can be identified during the review process. Marital goals should be long-range in orientation and general enough to give the couple latitude in how they are attained. Marital objectives based on these goals should be more specific and short-term oriented. The couple should be able to attain the objectives within a 12-month period of time. Marital goals should be developed to cover the key issues in a couple's life. The following seven areas around which marital goals can be developed are addressed in Marriage Work-out. The issues are described as follows:

1. Relationship Goals

1)    How will we nurture our love for one another?

2)    How will we communicate with one another?

3)    How ''interdependent'' will we be on each other?

4)    How will we nurture our mutual sexuality?

5)    How ''open'' a relationship will we have?

6)    How will we ensure ''fun'' in our relationship?

7)    How will we ensure respect for each other's rights?

8)    How will we nurture our relationship over the years to come?

9)    How will we help one another ''grow'' in this relationship?

10) How long do we intend for our relationship to last, e.g., ''until death do us part''?

11) What ''extreme'' measures do we agree to if our relationship should become ''sick''?

12) What will we do with our lives if and when one partner dies?


2. Problem Solving Goals

1)    How will we approach the problems facing us in our relationship?

2)    What problem-solving model will we use?

3)    How will we handle our differences of opinions?

4)    How will we handle our complaints about one another?

5)    How will we encourage one another to become good problem solvers?

6)    What latitude of freedom are we going to give one another in pursuing a fight?

7)    How are we going to fight?

8)    How are we going to bring fights to a healthy resolution?

9)    Will we agree to disagree?

10) At what point will we seek help for ourselves if our fighting gets out of hand?

11) How will we ensure that each of us ends up a ''winner'' after a fight?

12) How can we still have ''fun'' living together after we fight and solve problems?


3. Individual Growth in the Marriage Goals                

1)    How will we ensure mutual growth in this marriage?

2)    How open are we to taking both joint and individual responsibility for marital and family 


3)    How will we keep our individual identities in this relationship?

4)    Will we allow each other to be assertive?

5)    How will our unique personalities help each other and our relationship to grow?

6)    What steps will we take if one or both of us is feeling stifled or stunted in our relationship?

7)    How will we prevent ''burnout'' in our relationship?

8)    How will we handle a need for mental-health assistance?

9)    How will we promote each other's physical health?

10) How will we handle jealousy, resentment, or a  sense of competition toward each other?

11) How will we ensure mutual growth in this relationship?

12) How will we have ''fun'' and grow in our relationship?


4. Structural Goals

1)    How will we ensure adequate time to achieve our goals?

2)    How will our schedules be arranged to pursue individual interests?

3)    How free are we to   pursue our own interests and friends?

4)    How committed are  we to developing and following daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly schedules to meet our needs?

5)    How committed are  we to setting up long-range marital goals and short-range objectives to attain those goals?

6)    How committed are  we to setting up WORKOUT times for mutual nourishment?

7)    How committed are  we to   scheduling ''fun'' into our marriage?

8)    How can we get the ''required'' chores done and still have time for ''fun''?

9)    How can household chores be delegated so that no one feels ''put upon''?

10) How can the ''menial, time-consuming workload'' around the house be reduced?

11) How will hobbies, sports, and outside interests fit into our relationship?

12) How can we maintain a ''dating'' atmosphere in our marriage?


5. Financial Goals

1)    What are our individual career goals?

2)    How will our careers integrate?

3)    How will we promote each other's career?

4)    How will the need for additional career training and/or education fit into our marriage?

5)    What ''social'' roles are we willing to play regarding each other's career?

6)    What type of house, furnishings, and neighborhood do we need?

7)    What kind of  transportation do we need?

8)    How committed are we to following a budget?

9)    How will we handle our finances? Who will handle the finances?

10) How will we handle shopping for necessities? for luxuries?

11) What part will credit play in our purchases?

12) What are our agreements on insurance, savings, investments, additional properties, retirement, medical coverage, and financial security?


6. Family Goals

1)    What role will each set of in-laws and relatives have in our lives?

2)    Will we have children? When? How many?

3)    Why do we want children?

4)    How will the children be disciplined? What model of parenting will we follow?

5)    How will we fit children into our married life and not lose our ''dating'' atmosphere?

6)    How will our children be educated?

7)    How will we conduct our family life with children?

8)    How will we function as role models of responsible parents?

9)    How will we prepare ourselves for emergencies or crises relating to  children?

10) What lifestyle do we want for our ''new'' family?

11) How can having a family result in ''fun'' for us all?

12) How can our love grow as a family?


7. Spiritual Goals

1)    What role will our spiritual life have in our marriage?

2)    How will our individual beliefs in God influence marital life?

3)    What role will religious and church participation have in our marriage?

4)    What   religious differences do we need to overcome as a marital team?

5)    How important is it to both of us that we jointly seek God's support and assistance as we work at our marriage?

6)    How will our faith and trust in God's mercy, forgiveness, and support aid us as we face the future?                       ·

7)    How will our turning to God assist us in overcoming selfishness, pride, impatience, and stubbornness in our marriage?

8)    What religious foundation will we give our children?

9)    What religious practices will our family have?

10) How active will we become in a church as a couple, as individuals, and as a family?       

11) How will we reconcile our differences in religious belief and practicing our spirituality?

12) How can our pursuit of spirituality result in ''fun'' for us and strengthen our love?

Marital Goal-Setting Exercise

A. Review the seven areas around which marital goals can be developed.

B. Discuss the questions raised in each area.

C. Record one goal for each of the seven areas, making sure the goal:
    1. Is general in nature
    2, Specifies that each partner is responsible for its attainment
    3. Is at least five or more years away from attainment
    4. Is reasonable with a realistic chance of being attained
    5. Is written in clear, understandable language which is understood by both partners
    6. Is owned and committed to by each partner
    7. Guarantees the partners' mutual rights
    8. Ensures a healthy marriage
    9.Is oriented to each partner's marital growth

D. Once you have one goal for each of the  areas, develop additional goals until you exhaust each area. Do this for all seven areas. Use extra pages if necessary.

E. At least thirty-five goals should be identified after completing the above Step. Record these goals on your goal worksheet.

F. After recording the goals, partners should sign the marital goal ''contract,'' and store it in a safe place. Most couples review their goal contract on a yearly basis but set a time frame that works for you. Too often a review will be unproductive, and if you wait too long between reviews it could wind up being unnecessary due to a breakdown in the marriage. We recommend an annual review and use that time frame in our discussion of this activity. On review, evaluate progress and revise goals as needed.


Our Marital Goal Contract

The following Marital Goals will be enhanced by our Marriage Work-out efforts over the next few years. We will review these goals annually and revise them as needed. We will set annual objectives to assist us in reaching these goals.


1. Relationship Goals:






2. Problem-solving Goals:






3. Individual Growth Goals:






4. Structural Goals:






5. Financial Goals:






6. Family Goals:






7. Spiritual Goals:







We hereby agree to the above contract and that these goals will enhance our growth in love. We agree that our individual rights are herein respected.


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Signature                                                       Signature


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Date                                                               Date