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Q: I heard a speaker say recently that we should set goals for our relationships. I understand setting objectives for your career, health, finances, etc. But I'm not really tracking with how this could improve my marriage. What are your thoughts?

Jim: My wife, Jean, and I often talk to our sons about their goals. They usually mention things like grades or what they hope to achieve in sports. Those are great. But we like to encourage them to think outside the box. Like, what can they do to develop their character as well?

And that prompted Jean and me to do some thinking: setting goals for our marriage is a great idea, too.

We tend to discuss our relationship in terms of a theme. It could be "forgiveness" or "grace" or maybe "patience." Then we try to weave that theme into every part of our marriage. So not only will we actually try to be more patient with each other, but we also make it part of our conversation with each other for that season of life. And we talk regularly about how we see each other improving in that area. We cheer each other on, which brings us even closer together.

Of course, for a happy relationship you need something a little more inspiring than "staying together." So find ways to keep your interest in each other alive. Read books or watch movies you can discuss afterward. Have a common goal, like saving for that dream vacation. Even better, intentionally build character into your marriage. Be more considerate, more patient or more forgiving with each other. And share positive feedback as you each see the other grow.

Your marriage doesn't have to be an endless string of mundane days. Set some basic goals and work them into your relationship.

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