“We should totally buy a boat in about 12 years from now, sell everything, cross the Atlantic, and live in the Mediterranean!” proposed my husband Eric, who has no boating experience yet, a few years ago. Ever since, we’ve made a few small baby steps toward our goal which have mostly involved watching YouTube videos on boating, pouring over a few sailing magazines, crunching some future income numbers (we need to become millionaires now!), and visiting one of the largest boat shows in the country.
Eric’s dream of owning and living on a boat has now become my dream as well (this is what happens when you read too much National Geographic as a kid). But what is important here, from a strong marriage perspective, is not the dream itself—as it could be anything–but the fact that a dream exists at all.
What if there was a special microscope that could peel back the layers of a statement, phrase, idea, etc., and show you the real meaning behind it? If I were to use it to look deeply into Eric’s boat idea, here’s what I think it would say: “You and I should make some seriously fun and exciting plans together for way in the future because we’re married for keeps and 12 years, 20 years, or 40 years from now, I still plan on YOU being by my side!”
My point is that long-term goals absolutely must be a part of your marriage recipe!
A long-term plan, goal, or idea is just the sort of resolve that creates a mindset for the future. Couples who live with a week-to-week mindset, or even a year-to-year outlook on their relationship, are not creating the foundations for healthy, committed RESOLVE.
Of course, for some couples thinking long-term can be difficult, and for good reason. Some marriages may face illness or job loss or other difficult situations that make it nearly impossible to think beyond the here and now. But in those times it is especially important to keep long term goals part of those week-to-week seasons.
When I flew helicopters in the Army, we were trained to pick out a distant point or object, miles and miles away, and then track toward it. If the object was too close, it made for difficult navigation and the constant need for course correction. But focusing on an object far in the distance allowed for a smooth flight with little to no deviations of course. Long-term goals are exactly like that! They help keep our minds and hearts focused.
In our marriages, it’s so helpful when we can point to the resolve of our long-term goals and plans for the future. For Eric and me, divorce just isn’t an option—I mean, I’ve already agreed to learn everything I can about diesel boat engines and there’s no way Eric can get a 55-foot boat to the French Riviera all by himself!! Long-term goals aren’t the only ingredient in a good marriage recipe, but they sure help! And, by the way, it’s really fun to dream and plan for the future with your loved one.
My challenge to other couples? Dream up something to do together way in the future, and then feed that dream a little every month and a little every year. Short on ideas? There’s always National Geographic!