First, congrats on setting goals for your marriage. The work doesn’t end when you say “I do.” Instead, it only begins.
In this article, we list the best, most productive marriage goals according to science.
So, let’s dive into our shortlist for goals of marriage to strengthen your relationship long-term.
You may have career goals and life goals, but do you have marriage goals?
A significant part of your life and happiness is in the company of your significant other. Therefore, it’s important to have aspirations, continuous improvement, and goals within your relationship.
As the popular Jim Rohn saying goes, “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with,” and we would bet that your partner usually ranks #1.
Therefore, creating goals of marriage and working towards the best relationship you can have are the best things you can do.
How Setting Marriage Goals Improves Your Health?
The health of your marriage doesn’t only affect your heart, but new medical research is emerging that it can affect your body as well.
The famous Divorce and Death study conducted by the Medical University of South Carolina found that divorce increases the risk of early death even more than regular cigarette smoking.
After following 1,300 adults for 40 years, the study found that divorcees are 23% more likely to experience an early death than married couples.
Or, have you ever heard of the “marriage advantage?” It’s the blanket statement that, with marriage, you’ll live healthier and longer lives (4-7 years longer). Yet, as most blanket statements go, there is an asterisk with that.
New studies show that the quality of marriage affects your health, including reduced dementia, pneumonia, and cancer risks.
This asterisk involved a study conducted by Brigham Young University where they found 77% of married couples had a mix of some good, some not good aspects.
While this doesn’t sound dire, it turns out the unpredictability of the good and bad led to higher blood pressure.
While more research is needed to see if this leads to poorer health benefits over the long term, it goes to show that putting in daily work towards a positive relationship goes a long way.
How To Set Marriage Goals
Relationship psychologist and author of The All-Or-Northing Marriage: How the Best Marriages Work, Eli Finkel, thinks that effective marriage relationship goals need to cover three bases:
This includes basic economic needs (like food and shelter) plus emotional needs.
This includes the love and connection side of things, covering social and physical intimacy needs.
This includes personal development and bolstering your partner up so that they can achieve their individual hopes and dreams.
Additionally, we would add that a good marriage goals list should help you avoid the thing we all want to avoid most: divorce.
The most cited research on the reasons for divorce comes out of the University of Denver in 2013. In the study, researchers found the below causes to be the most common reason for divorce:
- Lack of commitment – 75%
- Infidelity – 60%
- Too many arguments – 58%
- Getting married too young – 45%
- Financial problems – 36%
By incorporating goals of marriage that promote health and happiness in these areas, we can create stronger, longer-lasting relationships.
Below are marriage goals examples that are healthy, may require some work, yet are still attainable and realistic.
Of course, each relationship is different so use these ideas to create your own goals unique to your relationship.
So grab a pen and paper (because writing down goals increase your chances of success by 42%) and create your list of marriage goals!
1. Review family finances monthly
Let’s start with some low-hanging fruit: the fifth most common reason for divorce is financial problems.
Discussing finances with your partner can be awkward and even scary. One of you may be a big spender and hiding debt, while the other might be a master saver.
No matter the circumstances, it’s always best to come clean and make a spending and saving strategy to overcome debt and save for emergencies and retirement.
Having a marriage life goal of discussing finances monthly will help you both understand where the money goes, and therefore how to control it.
If even this is too scary, schedule it into the calendar and make it as business-like and less personal as possible. Start with understanding expenses before discussing bigger topics like investing and debt.
For advice on where to start, read our finance guide for couples.
2. Speak your partner’s Love Language daily
As fluffy as it sounds, learning your partner’s Love Language is well worth it. It’s a marriage goal that all couples should be setting.
For example, you may be providing acts of service — doing the dishes, cleaning the house, gardening, etc. — but what your partner really wants is for you to spend quality time together.
The 5 Love Languages demystifies how your partner wants to feel loved and valued. This goes a long way in showing your commitment and companionship.
Having the marriage goal of speaking your partner’s Love Language daily could be as simple as turning off your phone during dinner, making the bed, complimenting your partner, or giving them a massage.
Yet, it could make a world of change.
3. Take a sex MasterClass this year
Want to spice up your marriage? Well, I think everyone does.
Last year, Ryan and I signed up for the MasterClass: Emily Morse Teaches Sex and Communication. And no, it’s not weird or like pornography at all. It’s more like sex education.
Cultivating intimacy and prioritizing your pleasure are good places to start. Learning more about sex communication and understanding your intimacy needs is the first step in having a better sex life and a stronger marriage.
In addition to this sex MasterClass, we also recommend taking this online couples massage course.
4. Even out the housework
One reason why a partner may feel unsupported is due to lopsided household responsibilities. Changing this is an extremely underrated relationship goal for married couples.
Did you know that full-time working mothers handle 6 more hours of chores a week than their husbands? Last year, I ran an informal study and logged how many hours of chores Ryan and I both did.
I found the same thing. Ryan was indignant and angry, saying it was an off-week.
Well, the data spoke and studies show that increasing perceived fairness over housework increases relationship satisfaction.
So, for this marriage goal, brainstorm ways to divvy household work (from managing finances to unloading the dishwasher) that makes you both happy.
5. Check off a Couple’s Bucket List item monthly
A couple’s bucket list is exactly what it sounds like: the bucket list items you want to check off together.
Psychologists recommend making bucket lists, as it promotes creativity and long-term goals.
This marriage goal will fulfill your and your partner’s self-expression needs!
From swimming in all five oceans to volunteering monthly, we share the 50 items that make up our couple’s bucket list.
6. Get creative with monthly date nights
A lot of people talk about weekly date nights, and while those are great, the science says that monthly dates may be better.
A study conducted by the Marriage Foundation and the University of Lincoln found that one date per month led to the biggest increase in happiness and the highest chances of staying together.
The 10,000 couples polled were monitored for 10 years and those who went on monthly date nights were less likely to get divorced than the couples who went out weekly.
While this seems counterintuitive, couples reported that too many dates added financial stress to their relationship while taking away from the personal time needed for self-care.
For this marriage goal, we recommend you strive to reinvent your date nights. Who even says they have to happen at night anyway?
Put some extra effort into making them meaningful, and know that you can also have some epic dates while keeping it simple with our list of at-home date ideas.
At-Home Date Ideas Menu
With our at-home date night ideas menu, a memorable date night is just a few dice rolls away.
Utilize the main event, dining, and accessory at-home date night ideas list to wow your partner, take the stress out of planning, and elevate your date nights at home to rival any that you've had elsewhere.
7. Show your gratitude daily
Connect with your spouse on a deeper level by making adding this marriage goal to your list.
Research out of UC Berkeley found that after 30 days of practicing gratitude, the emotional benefits can last for months.
And when it comes to expressing gratitude as a couple, pairs rank higher happiness levels with their relationships and also feel more confident in expressing any concerns.
Daily gratitude could be as simple as leaving love notes around the house, sharing what you loved most about your partner before bed, or making your partner’s favorite meal for dinner.
For more ideas, follow our 30-Day Gratitude Challenge calendar.
8. Respect and protect your partner always
We have a rule in our marriage that we would never speak ill about each other — even to our friends and family. When there’s a disagreement in the house, we keep it in the house.
Of course, letting off steam and venting can be healthy, but only under the right circumstances.
This was one of the first pieces of marriage advice for newlyweds that we received, and follow it to this day.
Remember, your marriage is sacred, and having a marriage goal of always respecting and protecting your partner will lead to fewer arguments and show your commitment.
9. Work out together weekly
Two-thirds of people worry more about their spouse’s health than their own.
So… why not just exercise together?
Aside from the added benefit of having an accountability buddy, Kansas State University shows that when you work out with a buddy, you increase work time and intensity is as much as 200 percent!
Plus, a study out of Stony Brook University found that couples were “feeling more satisfied with their relationships and more in love with their partner” after exercising together.
We love to work out with each other. Not only does it force us to try new workouts, but it’s also a way to spend more quality time together. Plus, it’s pretty sexy!
We believe in the health benefits of working out as a couple so much that we recently released a Couples Yoga Program. No matter what you do, make it a goal to start working out together.
10. Go on a marriage retreat annually
What better way to celebrate your marriage than going on a marriage retreat? Luckily, you don’t have to dish out thousands of dollars to get all of the benefits.
A few years ago, we made a 1-Day DIY Marriage Retreat At Home based on science. Could you put aside a full day to focus on nothing but your relationship?
If you’re looking for a time and place to reconnect and even set up more marriage goals, this would be a perfect time.
At-Home Marriage Retreat Agenda
Download and print our DIY couple's retreat itinerary and preparation checklist.
Our couple's therapy ideas bring in practical science along with mental health, nutrition, fitness, and reconnecting relationship activities. Plus, we're just an email away for questions or support.
11. Start couple’s therapy or relationship coaching before you need it
Marriage counseling experts recommend starting marriage therapy when things are good, not bad. The average couple waits six years after the going gets tough before seeing a therapist.
And then, 38% of couples who sought counseling get divorced two years later anyways.
Instead of thinking of marriage therapy as therapy, think of it like relationship coaching. Nowadays, this is easier than ever.
There are many resources online that cater to this. We even offer a 1-year couple’s health program called Just Duo It.
There are also apps, such as our favorite, Relish, that gives you access to live coaches and therapists. All done from the privacy of your phone.
If you’re looking for marriage goals that will keep your marriage in top shape, consider coaching… and early.
According to our experience and research, these are the best, most productive marriage goals to set. We hope you implement and see one (or all) of these goals of marriage strengthen your relationship.
Of course, these aren’t the only marriage goals to set. If there is something that we need to add to our marriage goals list, please let us know in the comments.
We love learning about new tips and tools to continuously improve our marriage.
Just Duo It
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Hey we're Ryan and Alex
The creators of Ryan and Alex Duo Life. We are a husband-wife duo and “lifestyle engineers.”
After eight years working in the corporate world as engineers, we left our high-powered jobs to tackle our true passion — helping couples engineer their best lives.
The synergy of our engineering minds and ten years of health coaching experience produced Ryan and Alex Duo Life. Our mission is to help you transform your bodies, minds, and relationship as a couple.
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