Does Your Marriage Have a Mission Statement?

I am mostly offline, attending a business conference. I have asked several bloggers to post in my absence. This is a guest post by Dr. Ann, who is a doctor, wife, and mom. You can visit her blog (which is syndicated on Crosswalk) or follow her on Twitter. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

The YMCA has a mission: to improve lives by strengthening spirit, mind and body. Coca Cola has a mission: to refresh the world. Star Trek even had a mission: to boldly go where no man has gone before!

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/LivingImages

What about you and me? Could we do with mission statement for our marriages? Yes, and here’s why: Many of us enter into marriage somewhat blindly.

Perhaps we are full of passionate ideals and we feel that love alone will carry the day. But sooner or later, we realize that marriage is a much bigger deal than that.

To actualize love (I realize this doesn’t sound romantic at all) requires intentionality, discipline, and focus. It is a lifetime’s worth of work.

God has called us to this marriage commitment: minister to another by actively loving them, constantly look out for them, and make their best interests your best interests. We can get there with the help of a mission statement.

A marriage mission statement helps us to focus on how we want our marriage to bear fruit. Even when day-to-day living is mundane or difficult, a mission statement keeps our eyes focused on a greater prize. And it strengthens the teamwork between you and your spouse.

Here are three steps to making a marriage mission statement:

  1. Identify your “big picture” mission. Ask, “What kind of spouse does God uniquely call me to be within my marriage?”

    Example: “I feel God uniquely calls me to support my husband’s gifts and career drive by being flexible about my own work for a season. This allows us to keep our marriage in balance while the kids are still at home.”

  2. Break this big picture mission into do-able chunks. Ask, “What can I do within the next two months to get closer to the big goal? What steps can I take within the next six months?

    Example: “In the next two months, I will meet with three key colleagues and research viable ways to work in my current field from home. In the next six months, I will identify three enjoyable options. I’ll also approach my current boss about working part-time or telecommuting from home.”

  3. Find another person to share your marriage mission with. Share your two-month and six-month goals with them. Offer to be an accountability partner for them as well. You’d be amazed at how much more on-task you are when you know someone expects you to show up!

    Example: “I have two accountability partners. The first is my husband. The second is my closest friend and prayer partner. We meet over coffee monthly to discuss progress with my goals, and re-adjust if needed.”

In a nutshell, love and marriage requires work. A friend of mine and fellow psychiatrist summed it up well when he told me: “I work to create my marriage every day.”

It is an on-going journey. A marriage mission statement provides a valuable road map.

Question: Have you ever thought of making a marriage mission statement? What ideas come to mind? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

    Great topic.

    I wonder how many more marriages would survive and thrive with this type of mission statement.  I can’t say that we’ve deliberately created a mission statement, but we’ve been fairly intentional in discussing where we want our marriage to be centered and in how we intend to keep it growing.

    Our marriage has been bolstered by scripture – particularly Proverbs 3:5-6.  While this isn’t a mission statement as you state above, it’s a foundation we can return to whether times are great or times are tough (we’ve experienced both).  Making Christ a priority in our marriage has been essential.  As we come up on 16 years of marriage this summer, we have found that getting away for marriage conferences and for simple weekend getaways are so important to refueling our marriage tanks.

    • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

      Jon, the idea of refueling your marriage is great. Congrats on 16 years together!

      • http://runningwithhorses.wordpress.com/ Steve Hawkins

        A few years ago, my pastor interviewed a couple who were married for 55 years. The pastor asked the husband how he was able to stay married to the same woman for that length of time. The man thought about it for a moment, and said, “Good exercise.”

        “How is that?” the pastor asked. 

        “Whenever I got upset with my wife, I took a walk around the block.”

        • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

          There is a kernel of real wisdom in there.  Plus it’s just funny! Thanks for sharing this.

        • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

          Funny – but also wise!

    • http://www.kellycombs.com/ Kelly Combs

      Happy upcoming Anniversary! My husband and I will celebrate 16 years in May.

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

       Jon, I would say I’ve never gone to a retreat focused on marriage and not returned refreshed, refueled, and excited about life with Ellen. Those events help guide me into conversations with Ellen that I normally wouldn’t consider (similar to what Ann’s article probably will do today).

      Congratulations on anniversary #16. My heart’s desire is to dance with Ellen on our 50th (which is still a ways off, but one dreams early and often).

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Proverbs 3:5-6 is the life verse my husband has established as our family’s foundation. :)

      • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

        What an important idea – a life verse for our family.  Love it – thanks for sharing Michele!

    • Jim Martin

      Congratulations Jon, on being married for 16 years this summer!  How encouraging to hear about the investment you make in your relationship.

    • http://runningwithhorses.wordpress.com/ Steve Hawkins

      Congratulations Jon!

  • http://www.michaelnichols.org/about Michael Nichols

    Yes! My wife and I have both included our marriage (and the outcomes we desire) in our life plans. We used Michael’s eBook, Creating Your Personal Life Plan (http://michaelhyatt.com/life-plan) to develop our life plans. This one exercise has yielded dramatic improvements in our life our work, and our marriage.

    Every life matters. And every marriage matters. I wrote a post about why they matter here – http://michaelnichols.org/your-life-matters.

    Thanks so much for the thoughtful post!

    • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

      That’s awesome Michael!  Encouraging to see that your on-purpose approach to life and marriage has made such a difference to you and your wife.

  • http://www.alslead.com/ Dave Anderson

    My former Pastor Pete Briscoe once said:  “The definition of a good marriage is two people living under the same roof trying to out-serve each other.”

    That sound like a great vision statement:  Why –To out-serve my spouse.
    Then comes my mission statement:  What–In What Ways Will I Serve My Spouse.

    The Vision is the End.  The Mission is the means to that End.

    I like the post Ann.  I’ll be praying about applying this to our family as well and developing one with our 9th grade twins.

    • Kim Hall

       Dave, I love that definition! Thanks so much for sharing it.

    • http://darensirbough.com/ Daren Sirbough

      I really like these thoughts. One day when I do eventually ‘Get married’ or even ‘Get a girlfriend’ these are qualities that I will need. Thanks for sharing that thought of trying to “out-serve” each other.

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

       Dave, you pass along some great stuff. I often read your comments and think, “Wow! That’s clear.” Today is no different. Thanks for helping me see my own marriage through a different lens.–Tom

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

       Love that quote — powerful!

    • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

      Great definition and way of framing it!

  • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

    I’ve thought of creating a mission statement with my wife but it seems so cold and uncaring at times. So I put it on the backburner and never get around to talking to her about it. But thanks to your post today Ann, I  will be talking to my wife about it.

    • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

      Dave, “A vision statement leading to a mission statement” is a wise way of approaching this.  Blessings to you and your family – 9th grade twins!
      Joe, I bet your wife will be thrilled when you talk to her about creating a mission together. Give us an update if you can!

      • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

         Will do Ann. Thanks for the encouragement.

        • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

          You’re welcome!

        • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

          You’re welcome Joe. Blessings!

    • http://rise365.com Michael Good

      Joe, 
      Claudia and I want to do this too. It’s just that it’s a lot harder than one might think so we really need to block out the time and prioritize it. 

      I’d love an update too!

      • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

         Michael!

        Good to see you over here at the blog. Yeah, this is something that can be tough. But at you and Claudia seem to be on the same page regarding it.

        If Pam and I do get around to doing one, I’ll give you an update.

        • http://rise365.com Michael Good

          Yeah Joe, but the challenge is carving out the time. Needs to be done, though.

    • Rachel Lance

      Do you know what it is about the idea that seems cold and uncaring? Perhaps work that into some kind of filter that will help you know when you’ve landed on ‘the one’.

      • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

         I’m not sure Rachel. The idea really intrigues me and I desire to do it but then I get to thinking about it and it fizzles out for me. It might be my fear and anxiety or something else but it’s there and making me think this way.

        • Rachel Lance

          That’s an interesting lthought to wrestle with. For me it’s analysis paralysis that keeps me from putting anything on paper. It feels like such a weighty thing – I guess I’m afraid to get it “wrong”.

  • http://missionallendale.wordpress.com/ Joey Espinosa

    I love the idea of a mission statement.

    It was just over 2 years ago that my wife and I got away to discuss the “adventure” that God wanted for our family — what we were to be about. It was clear that it was about children (our own, in the church, in the culture and the world).

    We were already working in the first 2 groups (own kids, in the church). But in less than a year, God showed us the next step.  We now work with “at-risk” children and families in the 10th poorest county in the nation.

    I wrote about us being “on a mission” here: http://missionallendale.wordpress.com/2011/01/06/on-a-mission/

    • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

      What an exciting and beautiful adventure God has placed you both on, Joey!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Such an important mission, Joey. Reminds me of the following proverb I read just this morning:

      “He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.” ~ Prov. 14:31

      It’s beautiful to see you and your wife doing this together.

      • http://missionallendale.wordpress.com/ Joey Espinosa

        Thanks for the encouragements. The best part is that it’s not just my wife and I, but our 3 kids are a part of this, too.

        • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

          Which helps set them up for success in their future marriages and families.

    • Jim Martin

      Joey, what a great way to approach this!  I like the idea of approaching this as an adventure for both of you.

  • Pingback: A Mission for Our Family « Mission: Allendale

  • http://rise365.com Michael Good

    Dr. Ann,
    This is something that my wife and I have been giving a lot of thought and really want to clarify and get on paper. We’re going through a LOT of change and personal growth right now and documenting it all on our blog. However, I think doing something like this would give us an added purpose and ambition. 

    Thanks for the challenge and the tips!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      A time of significant change and challenge is prime for a mission statement. Without a mission statement, circumstances can seem random and drain the vitality of a relationship. With a mission statement, the challenges become opportunities to live out the mission in a powerful way — and can actually energize the relationship. Go for it, Michael.

      • http://rise365.com Michael Good

        I like that perspective, Michele! “the challenges become opportunities to live out the mission.”

        Well said.

        • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

          Thanks, Michael.

  • http://www.rebeccaetc.com Rebecca Eaton

    I love this. We’ve been married just under two years and we have a great marriage, but I’m always open to learning ways to be intentional about our marriage to keep it great. I already started answering the questions to this post while reading it.

    Which brings me to my next comment, for MHyatt&Co.: Often Michael (and guests) use action points throughout the post, like this one, or writing down a business vision, life plan, etc. On more than one occasion I’ve copied the post into a new Evernote note, erased everything but the points and questions, and set to filling it out for myself. I know Michael loves Evernote, so I’m wondering how easy it would be with each post to include a fill-in-the-blank-type Evernote note readers could open, save to their own Evernote accounts, and fill in. 

    It might take more time per post than to be worth it, but if the points are already there in bold, it might only take about 30-60 seconds per post. And I’m not sure if Evernote provides an option to share notes like that.

    Yes, I’m a nerd. But I love posts like this that not only challenge me to go further in some area of my life, but show me HOW to go further. And I was about to start a new Evernote note for this particular post this morning, I suddenly thought maybe others would benefit from that as well. 

    • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

      You’re on the right track Rebecca – and early in your marriage. Good for both of you!  Love your Evernote idea and hope to hear from Michael and his pro moderators on the topic.
      Michael, it sounds like an exciting time for you and your wife.  Keep going!

    • http://cherionethingivelearned.blogspot.com/ Cheri Gregory

      Rebecca — excellent idea! A handout/worksheet so we can immediately apply what we’ve learned!

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    Great post, Ann. My wife and I have attended numerous Family Life Marriage Conferences put on by Campus Crusade over the years. As part of these conferences, each couple creates a marriage covenant. It’s a great exercise and has definitely helped us in our 30 years (this year) of marriage.

    Actually talking through problems and coming up with solutions has really helped us focus on creating a stronger marriage. I remember our first conference. There were a lot of differences and a lot of things we had never communicated before. Working through the weekend was tough at first. But once we were able to see our marriage from the other person’s viewpoint, a breakthrough happened. I can honestly say we probably would not be married today if it weren’t for that event. 

    When we returned home, we joined a small group at church, and this helped with number 3 above. Having accountability and being able to communicate with other couples has strengthened our relationship through the years. Marriage isn’t always easy, but it is worth working through to become “completers,” rather than “competers.”

    • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

      30 years – what an accomplishment John! The idea of creating a marriage covenant and holding a conference on your lives together is wonderful. And so is your accountability with your small group.

    • Jim Martin

      John, like you I can remember being a part of a marriage conference early in our marriage.  I think it was a significant weekend.  The persons who lead the seminar gave many practical suggestions.  Maybe just as important, however, it helped me see that I had a lot of work to do.

  • YMCA Employee

    Minor correction: The YMCA’s mission is to put Christian principle into practice that promote a healthy spirit, mind and body for all.

    Sincerely,
    A YMCA Employee

    • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

      Thanks for the correction!

  • http://cavemanreflections.blogspot.com/ Michael Mulligan

    Thank you, Dr. Ann, for a post that hits me right in the center of my heart.  This summer, my wife and I will celebrate 23 years of marriage.  I must admit I’m still at the beginning of the learning curve on marriage.  Your points are valid and it’s a great investment to follow your three-step plan.  I would like to add one more point directed at the husbands.  Take the time to discover what it is your wife prays for every day.  Avoid fighting her prayers.  Instead, ask God to join her prayers with yours and find common ground.  This will yield peace and happiness in a world filled with turmoil.

    I was once a stubborn fool who thought I had all the answers.  God has the answers.  Listen to your spouse and discover what’s in her heart; write a marriage statement.  It’s good for the soul.  

    • Jim Martin

      Michael, I love your additional point!  (“Take the time to discover what it is your wife prays for every day.)  I have not done this but will.  I can see how this could be so valuable.

      • http://cavemanreflections.blogspot.com/ Michael Mulligan

         Jim, thanks for the reply.  My wife was hesitant to share her silent prayers at first because she knew they were in conflict with my plans.  Silent prayers trump individual plans.  I’m sharing this to help others who may be in the same position I was until I learned this important lesson.  Let me know how this goes for you.

    • Rachel Lance

      Michael, I love your additional thoughts on joining with each others’ prayers. What a powerful way to build and strengthen a marriage. Thanks for sharing.

      • http://cavemanreflections.blogspot.com/ Michael Mulligan

        You’re welcome, Rachel. Today’s post was well done.

    • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

      Michael, My earlier reply to you somehow vanished, but thanks for sharing your insight.  Praying what our spouses’ pray for is just a wonderful way to grow together. Blessings!

      • http://cavemanreflections.blogspot.com/ Michael Mulligan

        And blessings back to you, Dr. Ann. I will be following you for additional pointers. Have a great day.

        • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

          Thanks so much.

  • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

    Love and marriage requires work? Oh boy. I’ll stay single then. Having to work at work is work enough. 

    • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

      Smile – I give you full credit for being realistic!  But most of us will say it is worth it.

      • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

         DEFINITELY worth it.

      • Jim Martin

        Our marriage is absolutely worth it!  I often tell younger couples that marriage is often better than you ever dreamed and harder than you imagined.  Yet, having said that, it really is worth it.

        • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

          “Harder than you imagined…better than you ever dreamed” is spot on, Jim!

        • Rachel Lance

          Well said, Jim!

  • http://www.kellycombs.com/ Kelly Combs

    To me the do-able chunks are key. Creating a mission statement is great, but if you create it and then do nothing to achieve it, there is no point.  My husband and I participated in Family Life’s Weekend to Remember several years ago, and it really helped us learn to be better focused on each other. Between work, kids, and life, it’s easy to slip apart.  It is critical to, as your friend said, create your marriage every day. 

    • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

      Kelly, The combination of marriage, kids, and work is the biggest challenge I’ve met so far!   Great that you and your husband went on the Family Life weekend – I’ve heard really good things about those.
      Michael, What a lovely point about joining in on our spouses’ prayers.  That is so wise.  Congratulations on 23 years together!

  • comstock827

    My husband and I have been working on and adapting our marriage/family/ life mission statement for some time now.  It’s been greatly beneficial to help us establish goals and realize things that we may not have otherwise.  

    I would encourage anyone who may not be “the type” to sit down and put something like this on paper to at least discuss and consider the ideas – work through the process in a bit more abstract manner and you will still experience some of the results.
    There really is something about putting it down on paper, but I think people tend to get caught up in making sure it’s “just right” – you need to start somewhere!  

    • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

      Just start and don’t feel intimidated – so true.  Any progress is worth it!

  • http://www.thegeezergadgetguy.com/ Thad Puckett

    I think there is so much value in this post.  Too many people do enter marriage without thinking of a larger picture, or have a larger purpose in mind.  

    We just celebrated 25 years of marriage this past December.  It has been a wonderful journey, and one I would not change.  

    I do think a periodic relook at what our mission in our marriage is, and where we are in fulfilling that mission is very important.  We left the mission field 6 years ago to care for an aging MIL.  It was the right move, and we believe God lead us in it.  But it seems that His mission for us at the current stage of life we are in is getting clear again (after the transition away from cross-cultural ministry).

    Thanks for a very stimulating start to my day!

    • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

      Wonderful story, Thad, thank you for sharing it.

  • http://marktdutton.com Mark T. Dutton

    Great Post. Of all the things we can excel at, this is one worth pursuing with all we have. What a blessing marriage is, and how deserving it is of the work it takes to make it wonderful. Thanks for the encouragement!

    • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

      Mark, I love the idea of marriage being something we can strive to excel at.  Thanks for sharing.
      Thad, it’s lovely to get a glimpse of the various mission fields you have been called to.  This makes for a rich and blessed life. Congratulations on your 25 years of marriage!

  • Kim Hall

    Our lives have been undergoing a great deal of introspection over the past year as we strive to find our purpose and  to work within the strengths and gifts God has given us. Part of that has been setting goals for us as individuals, as a couple, as part of a family and a community as well. It has taken lots of conversation and examination, and we are not done yet, but have had a wonderful time looking afresh at possibilities we had never considered and paths we would like to follow.

    However, we did not create a mission statement as part of that effort. After reading your post, I think it will be added to our list to make our marriage even stronger, as we head joyfully towards our 30th anniversary next year.

    • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

      Kim, I can see you have a thoughtful and purposeful walk with God.  Wonderful! And blessings for your upcoming 30th anniversary.

  • http://darensirbough.com/ Daren Sirbough

    Now this is some foreign territory to me since I am single again, and no I’ve never been married. These are great ideals for anything worth pursuing though in my ministry, my work and anything entrepreneurial that I do. If I can sum up the vision in one short sentence, that may really direct our focus to the things most important.

    • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

      I agree with this point Daren.

  • Kathryn Howard

    Sorry to disagree but marriage is not a mission.  A mission has a specific goal, or target, with an implied end-date.  How could you pronounce a marriage “mission accomplished”?

    Marriage is about the journey.  A journey of love, respect, support and companionship – not necessarily in that order.  Your life partner helps you with the missions and goals you set within both your joint and individual lives.

    Having survived 23 years of a happy marriage, I think I’ve got a recipe that’s working.

    • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

      Kathryn, No need to apologize. I agree that marriage (and life) is an on-going journey.  I see the mission statement as a way of shaping and directing that journey.  Glad to hear of your 23 happy years together!

    • Rachel Lance

      Definitely no need to apologize! I think I have to challenge your challenge to Dr. Ann’s post though. I like your comparison of marriage to a journey, however without an idea of where you want the journey to end and a map to get you there, the journey can be frustrating, aimless, exhausting. Perhaps “mission statement” isn’t the right term for the type of approach that works best for you, but I think some type of intentional approach to marriage is vital.

  • http://deuceology.wordpress.com Larry Carter

    Thank you for the encouragement.  I have procrastinated developing a mission statement for our marriage.  I want to have a plan, mission and goals for the next 30 years or so.

    • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

      Wonderful, Larry. 

  • http://cherionethingivelearned.blogspot.com/ Cheri Gregory

    “Many of us enter into marriage somewhat blindly.”

    somewhat?  My husband and I had an exceptionally clear vision for our marriage when we tied the knot between our junior and senior years of college!  Then we lost our rose-colored glasses. The reality of two arrogant children trying to work out a marriage was not a  pretty sight!

    In his Simple Marriage Manifesto, Dr. Corey Allan says, “a marriage works more on the people involved than the people involved work on the marriage.”  (http://www.simplemarriage.net/ASimpleMarriageManifesto.pdf)  This was certainly true for us. 

    I wish, for the sake of our children, that we’d had greater maturity, accountability, and sense of mission. We learned the hard way that approaching marriage as anything other than a ministry quickly devolves into two love-starved beggers quarreling over crumbs.

    We are grateful for God’s grace…and 23+ years of growing up together!

    • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

      Cheri, I so appreciate you sharing your story with a down-to-earth perspective and humor.  There’s a lot of learning-on-the-job in marriage, isn’t there? Thank you, Lord, for your grace!

      • http://cherionethingivelearned.blogspot.com/ Cheri Gregory

        Learning and re-learning. Sometimes I look thru my prayer journals from five and ten years ago and wonder, “If I figured this out way back then, why didn’t I remember it?!?”

        • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

          Too funny!  I know exactly what you mean.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      My husband & I were a little bit older when we go married. But there’s a certain amount of maturity that can only come from the rub of living day-in and day-out with another person. That’s my way of saying that we were two arrogant 29 and 34 year old children, too — and it wasn’t pretty for us either!

      • http://cherionethingivelearned.blogspot.com/ Cheri Gregory

        LOL! Thanks for the reality check. I’ve been so sure that our issues were due to our age. The one advantage we did have is that we’d never lived on our own, so we weren’t set in our ways!

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

       “Somewhat?” made me laugh. Read it to Ellen and she said, “Totally!” We grow up on “Princess Bride” movies (which I love; a top 10 lister) and observe our parents–desiring the former, dreading the latter (because, as children, we’re stupid and, as you say, Cheri, arrogant). Even as a Christian believer, I didn’t have a clue as to how poor a vision I had of marriage. God’s grace through tough times helped shape our marriage into something I marvel at. God blessed me with a wonderful life partner. It just took a whole lot of time and commitment to see the beauty emerge.

      • http://cherionethingivelearned.blogspot.com/ Cheri Gregory

        Princess Bride!!!  My. favorite. thing.  My AP Lit & Comp class is planning a Saturday Night Princess Bride party, with extra credit for coming in costume…and also for making the longest list of satirical elements/examples!

        Fascinating how holding on to an ideal – which starts as a rather lovely, optimistic “vision” for marriage – twists into arrogance and even contempt. 

        (P.S. Your wife and you look like a wonderfully matched pair!)

        • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

           Sounds like fun. As for matched pair, I told a friend a few weeks ago, “Jim, you and I are fine examples of God’s grace. We married better than we deserved.”

    • Rachel Lance

      Cheri, I love your line “We learned the hard way that approaching marriage as anything other than a ministry quickly devolves into two love-starved beggers quarreling over crumbs.” Thanks for sharing your story & congratulations on 23 years of growing up together!

      • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

        I once heard a pastor describe a wrong-headed approach to marriage as “two tics, no dog.”  Ouch!

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

       Cheri,
      I love that quote by Dr. Allan!

  • http://www.struggletovictory.com/ Kari Scare

    Not really sure how I feel about creating a marriage mission statement. I mean, we created one basically when we took our vows 19 years ago, right? To me, my vow is my marriage mission statement. This is the covenant which I adhere to in my marriage. Not sure why, by the idea of formally creating one now doesn’t feel right to me. That’s not to say it’s a bad idea, but I do need to pray about why this sits funny. Don’t get me wrong, I have a great marriage now, so it’s not a resistance because of that. Not really sure…

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      I might have had the same questions a year ago, Kari. Recently, my husband and I took in three more children. The added chaos has made it easy to slide into maintenance mode in our marriage. We’ve had to be intentional about coming up with daily do-ables. The overall mission of our marriage is the same as when we made our vows: to love, honor and cherish. But how that works out on a daily basis with 6 children requires practical planning.

      • http://www.struggletovictory.com/ Kari Scare

        We definitely do planning on a regular basis. My husband read the post too (after I forwarded it to him), and what he said fits with my thinking. He said, “I think like with many things if you put a focus in front of yourself, you will accomplish it.  The real question is will it be sustained over the long term.  I think it is a good point, but not sure it is necessary to have a 2 month and 6 month goals.  I think a marraiage is something that needs to be worked on and developed daily.” We definitely live by what he is saying. We are definitely intentional, and we make adjustments as our family and our relationship changes. I think we do what is suggested in this post, just not formally as in writing it down. We try to keep short accounts (deal with issues as they arrive), and we integrate a lot of preventataive maintenance. What we do is working well for us.

        • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

          I like the idea of developing your marriage daily, Kari. And you’re right – there is no “must” in terms of creating a written statement.  But for many people, writing it down/formalizing it helps a whole bunch!

          • http://www.struggletovictory.com/ Kari Scare

            I agree that writing it down/formalizing it can be an important step for some people. We definitely do not feel obligated to follow any prescribed method for developing our marriage. We have learned what works for us, just like people learn what goal setting methods work best for them. More than one way to do them. And, we do sort of write them down in that we do a lot of chatting and brainstorming via email since my husband travels a lot. Just another approach. Of course, we don’t rely on email, but it is a great resource, that’s for sure. We are definitely able to communicate more than we would otherwise with his schedule.

          • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

            Can’t live without email!

        • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

          Sounds great, Kari. I don’t think we’ll sit down and write up 2 and 6 month goals, either. But we discussed this morning that we probably need to be proactive and more specific about our marriage desires and plans, or they will get lost in all the daily tasks of our current family situation. Thanks so much for sharing your experience and expertise. Helpful!

        • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

          Sounds great, Kari. I don’t think we’ll sit down and write up 2 and 6 month goals, either. But we discussed this morning that we probably need to be proactive and more specific about our marriage desires and plans, or they will get lost in all the daily tasks of our current family situation. Thanks so much for sharing your experience and expertise. Helpful!

      • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

         I suppose, being in empty-nest mode, Ellen and I don’t feel the hectic pressure of kids (or one kid in our case) but enjoy life together in a different phase in life. Out of necessity, we travel twice a month to see her mom and sister (3 hours round trip) and quarterly to Texas to see our son and my side of the family (16 hours one way). We’ve also enjoyed hours together working across the table from one another (her editing, me writing) at a local restaurant.

        I did read Ellen today’s post title and she laughed. I think that pretty much ended any further discussion on the subject for now. Maybe on our next trip to Texas …

        • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

          Hahaha. I’m glad Ellen got a good laugh. My husband and I were on the verge of empty nest a few months ago (two down, one to go), when God threw us a curve ball. Now we’re trying to navigate new territory. Haven’t figured it out yet. And I’m slightly envious of your quiet road trips and “hours together working across the table from one another.” ;)

          • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

            There are definite “seasons” that God brings us in parenting and marriage!

          • http://runningwithhorses.wordpress.com/ Steve Hawkins

            Four years ago, I had a colleague at work who spent a week with his spouse in Breckenridge, CO to celebrate the last of their two children out the door and on their own. Today, they have a three-year-old and he loves it. 

          • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

            That’s great! Love it!

  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    Okay, Ann, you got my attention with the title. We’re coming up on our 29th anniversary and I would say that, no, I’ve never considered a mission statement for our marriage. The basic principles you share though are consistent with how Ellen and I choose to live our lives as a married couple. Before I even knew my wife, I studied Paul’s instructions to husbands and wives in Ephesians 5. I focused on my future role, “Husbands, love your wives,” more than her role, “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands” (although, as a young husband, I think I had a change of focus there for awhile).

    You’ve given me something to think about and that’s a good thing.

    • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

      Kari, Sure, this may not be the right fit for everyone.  Congrats on 19 years!

      TNeal, Thanks for sharing your decision to focus on your own role more than on your spouse’s.  This is something I am always working on!

    • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

      And congratulations on your upcoming 29th anniversary!

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      You make a great point that the responsibility for our marriage relationship is not to be split 50/50.  It’s 100/100.   If I take full accountability for everything I can control, I don’t have to worry about my wife doing her part.  I really believe that more marriages would last if everyone took this approach.  

      Thanks for sharing that!

  • http://twitter.com/lynda_rva Lynda Thompson

    Years ago we made a Biblical-based mission statement for our family. My husband and I set time away yearly to evaluate our marriage and family relationships. It was very helpful. As we have gotten older and are married for over thirty years, persistence through aging, health and the “sudden-lies” in life have guided the process. Our mission now would be summarized in Hebrew 12:1.

    My husband’s grandparents were married for 75 years, his parents for 64 years. I didn’t have that legacy in my family. I think having that legacy has helped us to endure regardless of what has happened in our lives.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (Heb 12:1) Such a great foundation for a marriage/family mission statement, Lynda!

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      What a great way to be intentional about your marriage, Lynda!

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

       75 years! What an amazing legacy!

      • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

        It truly is!

  • http://www.robsorbo.com/p/welcome-from-disqus.html Rob Sorbo

    I know in my marriage, we are currently making some sacrifices until my wife finishes graduate school. It’s understood that we’re holding off on kids, newer car, and buying a home until she’s done.

    How much of a couple’s mission is the understood goals and how much of it is establishing new goals? I think we have a mission now, but I can see how easy it’d be to get off of that when she finishes school.

    • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

      What a beautiful legacy for your family, Lynda!  I love Hebrews 12:1 as well. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” 

      Thoughtful question, Rob.  I think the answer is that both immediate and longer term goals can make up your mission.  But I agree – it’s definitely easier to focus on the immediate and urgent!

  • Miranda

    This can work if in the first place we understand that marriage is first of all spiritual before physical. Unfortunately, not many people understand that. It is an institution by God that is supposed to show and teach the kind of love that exists between Christ and the Church. To first of all reason that your marriage should have a mission statement, you’d have to agree that its first purpose is to serve God, and that it therefore has a mission. This is why the choice of a marriage partner is very important, hence the reason that two people that walk very different paths find it hard to get along for long in a marriage. ” How can two walk together except they agree?”Knowing your purpose on earth, plays a major role in choosing your life partner. Choosing a life partner whose purpose can grow alongside yours, allows both of you to have a mission. Then you can actually proceed to having a mission statement that works and thrives.

  • robclinton

    What a great post! My wife and I have never really approached the mission statement from a marriage standpoint, but from a family. We’ve discussed the family mission… But how much more of an impact this might have on our family to be able to demonstrate our marriage through the power of a statement or creed. 

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      I keep thinking of the impact a marriage mission statement could have on the kids. Imagine how secure you’d feel knowing your parents are collaborators on a mission together!

      • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

        Great point.

      • Rachel Lance

        Love it – this will definitely help us shape our mission. Thanks!

        • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

          You’re a good mom, Rachel. :)

          • Rachel Lance

            Thanks, Michele, I needed this today!

      • robclinton

        Absolutely… I can see so much power behind this for our kids… It would give them so much hope and comfort witnessing that bond as the foundation of our family, and this perspective on marriage will carry on for generations. I was talking to a client this morning about this post, and we both agreed that for married couples that their should probably be a marriage statement before the family statement… 

        • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

          That’s true Rob.  It helps us to “live out” our belief that our marriages, after God, are the foundation of our families!

    • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

      Thanks for sharing your wisdom Miranda.

      Rob, it’s great that you have already thought through a family mission.  Your marriage mission can’t be far behind!

      • robclinton

        Thanks Dr. Ann, that’s very encouraging… I’m excited to put this together with my wife…

  • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

    With dual careers and a busy house full of kids, it’s easy to become reactive rather than taking the time to be proactive. But a marriage mission statement would be less work in the long run. Rather than spending our time/energy putting out fires, we could prevent most of them in the first place. Thanks for sharing, Ann!

    • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

      Can I just say “Amen!” to that, Michele? Even though I have to overcome some initial inertia, it helps so much down the road.  

      Thanks for all you do for the community here!

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

      Good point, Michelle.

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  • Pjbogear

    Love this. A new book is scheduled to come out later this summer that speaks directly to the vision and values of marriage. What is the mission, vision, and values for your marriage? Great thoughts here by the author. Intentionality must happen. We write business plans and mission statements for organizations, corporate and church, but neglect the home. So good and thanks!

    • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

      You’re welcome!  Great point about all the other places we look for mission statements.

  • http://talesofwork.com/ kimanzi constable

    I haven’t until now but it makes sense. I especially like how you describe love, too many people think love is something you feel, it’s not!

    “Perhaps we are full of passionate ideals and we feel that love alone will carry the day. But sooner or later, we realize that marriage is a much bigger deal than that.
    To actualize love (I realize this doesn’t sound romantic at all) requires intentionality, discipline, and focus. It is a lifetime’s worth of work.” 

    This was an awesome and true definition of love, I shared this on all my social media pages because there is a great deception going on about true love. Great post Ann

    • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

      Thanks Kimanzi.  I’m also a fan of your writing!  I don’t think it’s an understatement at all to say that there is a great deception about love and marriage – and many of us are affected by it.

      • http://talesofwork.com/ kimanzi constable

        I hope by sharing your post we can make a dent in that deception! Thank you for this post and for the kind words about my writing!

        • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

          You’re welcome!

      • http://runningwithhorses.wordpress.com/ Steve Hawkins

        How about couples with blended marriages? Would their mission statement be a little different?

  • http://www.livesimplylove.com/ Merritt

    What a great topic…I’ll be sharing it with the readers of my newlywed blog today (www.livesimplylove.com)! We don’t have a marriage mission statement. Though I’m learning more and more about what it is to have a sacrificial perspective of marriage rather than a me-focused perspective. We’ve been married for a little over two years and have learned a TON! Thanks for this idea. I’m sure I’ll continue to mull it over for at least the next week!

    • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

      Merritt, I’m sure you are way ahead of where I was after two years of marriage! Blessings, and thanks.

      • http://www.livesimplylove.com/ Merritt

        Though it was a long wait, I think getting married at almost 40 had a lot to do with it! Thanks again for the great post!

        • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

          You are welcome! 

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  • Macamaniac007

    This year we celebrate our 2oth and it has been great, but I can see where a mission statement for our marriage would have made it even better.  Even though my grandparents celebrate 68 this year and my parents 45 we can always find ways to strengthen our marriage and be a role model for others.  I like the idea of creating my marriage each and every day, although we probably subconsciously do this, I would like to consciously do it.  I wish I had known about this, oh, say 21 years ago.  Thanks for posting this.

    • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

      What I’ve seen is that it’s never too late (or early) to start, and that every step counts.

      20, 45, and 68 sound like fantastic numbers to me!  

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

       68 years is AMAZING! Did you ever ask your grandparents to share any words of wisdom with you on marriage? If so, please pass it on!

      • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

        Agreed – that would be a priceless story for others to hear!

  • Olawunmi Fajobi

    I’ll keep this in mind when I get married. Good stuff.

  • http://twitter.com/CoachTheresaIF Theresa Ip Froehlich

    Great post. My husband and I have been clarifying our mission during the last few years, since our children are now more independent.

    Not only “love and marriage” takes work. All relationships take work. It always help to ensure that the people in those relationships are rowing the boat in the same direction.

    • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

      I agree with that insight Theresa!  All relationships need thought and direction to flourish.  This could apply to family life as well as marriage.

      Has anyone done a family mission statement?  What has the outcome been?

      • http://beckfarfromhome.blogspot.com/ Beck Gambill

        I agree Theresa that all relationships take work. Thirteen years ago as a rather naive young bride I wish I had understood more clearly!

        My sister first mentioned the concept of a family mission statement to me. My husband and I have agreed to partner together to raise our children as disciples of Jesus and to set an example of love by prioritizing our marriage. 

        Thank you Dr. Ann for giving us the opportunity to be more intentional in our marriages and families.

        • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

          Love your marriage and family mission. And isn’t it funny (and telling) how we all really started out so naively? Blessings!

  • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

    Excellent post, Ann!  In your example of a mission statement (#1), you surprised me with a mission statement based on your current season of life.  I had not thought about a marriage mission statement that changes periodically.  During the marriage ceremony, we take vows of character that never change.  Though, a mission statement left open to revision during different seasons of life would provide much more intentional focus for both individuals and the family through life’s many seasons.

    This thought was spread through some of the comments below and it was my biggest take-away.  Thanks for writing!

    • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

      A key observation you’ve made John – that the vows of our marriages never change.  And then that the seasons of life lend themselves to “interim” missions.  Thanks for your insights!

  • Banibenjamin11

    thanks for this piece

  • theoldadamlives

    Yes.

    “Hold on to your hat and enjoy the ride!”

    • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

      “Hold on to your hat” captures it some days!

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  • AuthorAmandaBeth

    I’ve been following Dr. Ann’s posts for awhile now. I love her messages! I’m so happy to see her on your blog. Blessings to you both:) 

    • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

      Thanks Amanda – I feel the same about your work in strengthening Christian marriages!

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  • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

    I like the idea of applying the mission statement of the Enterprise to every part of my life. 

    In all seriousness this is a great idea. My wife and I had an amazing couple who did premarital counseling with us and we truly felt ready for marriage. It was 12 sessions based on Bruce Wilkerson’s “A Biblical Portrait of Marriage.” It was awesome. We saw where we were and discussed where it was we wanted to go. We laid out our “mission.”

    • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

      This sounds great Brandon.  And I’m sure that you and your wife are boldly going where neither of you had gone before!

  • Kris

    I really enjoyed your blog. I was able to really sit back and think about my goals, my husband;s goals and see them with the ability (finally) to mesh. I am my husband’s God given helpmeet, but I am also an individual with God’s leading of my own. Thanks so much

    • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

      I like the way you describe your roles (and goals!), both as a wife and as a woman following Him.  Great, Kris!

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  • http://www.drmarisfaithstop.com/ Dr Mari

    Love these practical ideas to help us become more intentional in creating a Christ-centered, vibrant marriage that endures! Thank you so much for this inspiring piece. I plan to discuss it with my hubby.

    • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

      Glad to hear it Dr. Mari!  I hope the discussion is fruitful.

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    Thanks for the tips to people who are single like me. Great advice to those who are on their way to marriage.

  • http://twitter.com/WilliamJSpencer William J Spencer IV

    This puts a great spin on an institution layed out by God.  We will work on our statement. Our tag line is “Restore God’s People”

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  • joan kenneth

    Hello My name is Joan Kenneth, I have been frustrated for the past 4 years with my two kids living without my husband who surprisingly left home with a girl named Mercy, One faithful day a friend of mine came visiting and I told her about the situation I am in for the past four years, she then told me about Dr omamen. That he is a very powerful man, at first I never wanted to believe her because I have spent a lot going to different places but she convinced me so I had no choice because I really need my husband back. So we contacted Dr omamen who told me all I needed to do which I doubted. But the greatest joy in me today is that Dr omamen was able to bring my husband back to me and now we are living happily as never before, thanks to you Dr omamen. If you have problems of any kind I will advice you to contact him with this Email (omamenspiritualtemple@GMAIL.com) and you will never regret it. Once again Thanks to you Dr omamen