What plans can you make with your spouse specifically for the two of you? Dig deep now and ask yourselves some questions while you're at the planning.
How can our marriage be a blessing to others? Are we discouraging to others because we are constantly bickering? Am I speaking negatively or flippantly about my husband/wife to other people? Am I treating my spouse the way I would want to be treated without any return expectations? Am I presenting myself in a pleasing manner to my husband/wife?
I think a great place to start in setting marriage goals as a couple is to sit down with your spouse and envision together what life will look like when you both have silver hair. What will you have accomplished as a couple over your lifetime? How will your marriage have affected others for the better? What regrets can you foresee if you continue the way thing are now?
Set communication goals.
Over the years Sean and I have realized that we respond very differently when we are upset. Sean needs quiet and time to calm down and I like to talk things out right away. Now he makes me aware that he is not ignoring me and I give him time to be quiet. Compromise.
I've always been the type to sit and mull over issues that are bothering me (not Sean related ones) and Sean has been very good about encouraging me to talk to him. If you are like me, maybe you can "plan" on being more diligent in bouncing ideas, opinions, etc. off of your spouse instead of keeping them internal.
Invest in intimacy.
This can be done by spending time together, reading, listening and talking with your spouse.
Get into a marriage group or start one.
Years ago I saw an advertisement in the paper from a couple opening their home once a week for couples to come, enjoy fellowship, and learn practical ways to strengthen their marriage. We've never gone so far as to advertise in the paper, but we do enjoy having couples in our home for this same purpose.
Start a couple only chef's night or supper club, where everyone brings different ingredients for the menu, cooks, and then eats together. Read and discuss a book on marriage over a desserts only menu or themed food night. Pray together. Invite couples from outside the pack you normally gather with.
Purposely plan to spend time as a couple without the kiddos.
Over the years I have head of so many instances where the children left the nest and the couple is left staring at a spouse they don't really know. How sad. Don't let this be you. Trade off with another couple for babysitting. Watch their kids for a few hours one week and they'll watch yours the next week. This, unfortunately, does not work if you are like us and have a big family and everyone else has 2.1 children. If you have willing family - great! We hire a babysitter. We are very, very, very picky about who we leave our children with and our babysitter is awesome! If money is too tight for a babysitter, grab a movie from the library (free!) and split a really, really good candy bar (think beyond Hersheys) or tub of Haagan Daz after the kiddos are in bed.
Sean and I also talk about how fun it will be when our kids are out of the nest (yikes!) and we can do "couple" things again like skiing and weekend trips and go out at a whim without having to get a sitter. For someone like me, who dreads empty nest syndrome, thinking ahead to good things with Sean helps!
Purpose in your heart to safeguard your marriage.
Marriage is not just a slip of paper or a legal document or promises that can be broken. It is a covenant with each other and God. Be accountable with each other. For example, I give my husband access to my email accounts and all other internet correspondence. There is nothing hidden in my life.
What about you? What plans do you make for the different seasons of married life?