What could happen if we taught people to seek God for a vision for their marriage? What could happen if we led by example?
Around our first anniversary, my husband T.J. and I spent some time together sharing our goals for the coming year. It wasn’t unlike New Year’s resolutions. We talked about where we were in our jobs, and our finances, about some trips we wanted to take and some hobbies we wanted to rekindle. We wrote it down and just kept living. But by the end of the year, we found we made progress on those things we’d discussed—more than I’d ever made on New Year’s resolutions as a single person.
Holding a Marriage Vision Retreat
At a marriage event, we learned the idea of scheduling an annual “vision retreat” for your marriage. The concept is simple:
- Take some time to get away alone together.
- Plan to do something fun together. It needs to be something you both enjoy.
- Spend time in prayer and God’s word.
- Talk about everything. Work through the tough stuff. Anticipate new challenges. Celebrate past wins.
What to Talk About
My husband, T.J., and I do this every year. For us, the “talk about everything” part of this yearly experience includes some broad categories that we think on in advance and then unleash when we’re together, including:
- family values (which should really come first; clarity on what you value as a family gives you a filter for all of the other conversations)
- spiritualand emotional health
- personal dreams and goals
- home projects
- parentingand relationships
As we discuss and come to agreement on different points—for instance, giving goals or people we want to intentionally invest in, specific fitness goals or challenges we anticipate in any area of life—we write everything down. We paint the picture of the vision for the year in front of us.
A few years ago we started noticing how that vision retreat date on the calendar kind of served as an “anchor” for all of these conversations. We talk about them more throughout the year, both in anticipation of the focused conversation on our upcoming schedule, or to follow up and expound on it after it happens. That was unexpected, but has proven incredibly fruitful.
Getting the Conversation Going
One key thing we’ve learned is that the environment for conversation is crucial. This isn’t a business meeting. It shouldn’t feel confrontational or rigid.
Where do you most naturally open up to each other?
For us, we have some of the best conversations in the car on the way to our destination, so we’ve learned to pick getaways that include a few hours of drive time. We’ve also found that casual outdoor environments fit us well.
Frequently Asked Questions
I usually get a few questions when this comes up around other married people:
- Don’t you nag each other about sticking to all those goals? God gives us grace for the vision. It’s not a step-by-step plan. It won’t all go like we dreamed it up. But we encourage each other towards the things God spoke to us. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in marriage so far, it’s that there’s no room for pride. More than goals, the win is clarity.
- How do you remember everything? We post it in our room. Yep, we make it plain. Every so often throughout the year, we’re drawn to it. We remember what we set out to do. For the things that require action, we get them on our calendar or to-do list. All year long, we let go of the failures and keep our eyes on the ultimate goal.
Setting the Example
There’s power in the accountability of marriage. There’s power in the common vision of two people committed to each other for life. It’s not for type A people trying to control every aspect of their time. Vision for marriage isn’t limited to the visionary.
Who should be able to encourage you more than your spouse? Who knows better when to push you and when to just pray for you? Who has more direct impact on your financial goals, your routines, your relationships and your paths?
Church people like to talk about vision—vision for the local church, for student ministry, for missions. What could happen if we taught people to seek God for a vision for their marriage? What could happen if we led by example?
“Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith.” –Habakkuk 2:2–4
“Where there is no vision [no revelation of God and his word], the people are unrestrained; but happy and blessed is he who keeps the law [of God].” –Proverbs 29:18
This article originally appeared on TheUnstuckGroup.com and is reposted here by permission.