“Planning is bringing the future into the present so you can do something about it now.”
It’s not the plan that is as important as the planning and connecting together as husband and wife TO plan. Otherwise it’s as if you are two separate people occupying the same house who do their own thing and sometimes bump into each other. That’s not what marriage is intended to be!
As Jim Elliot said, “Wherever you are, be all there.” That’s especially true when it comes to marriage and interacting and planning together as a family.
Alone we can do some things… and sometimes even do them well, but together we can do so much more — if we come together with intentionality and cooperate as a team to plan for the future and look back at what was.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend [spouse] can help him up! But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!“ (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)
On that note, we’d like to share something with you that has helped us in our effort to live in loving partnership together that may benefit your marriage also.
Every week or so, it’s good schedule a “planning time” with each other. We’ve personally found that it’s important to schedule it because if we don’t, life will slide right between us until soon, not only aren’t we on the “same page” with each other, we aren’t even in the same chapter!
We pray the following guideline will be a wonderful help to you. Please feel free to adapt this to best benefit your own marriage:
PLANNING TIMES WITH YOUR SPOUSE:
Look at your calendar as a couple every week or so to be in one accord with what is happening (or needs to happen) in your life together. Make this time a priority and protect it from interruptions. You can even have a “Planning Time Notebook” with this guideline and other important information in it to use your planning time most productively.
Make sure you both talk AND listen to each other (without interrupting), giving your undivided attention and eye contact. These planning times are to benefit your relationship.
“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another…“ (Hebrews 1-:24)
If you find that they’re causing tension between you, work on this communication problem together at another time. You’re to work as a team, not as opponents. “Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved” (Barbara Johnson).
If you’re having trouble communicating and resolving conflicts in healthy ways, make it your focused mission to improve upon that issue in your marriage to be UNITED with God and with each other.
FOR EACH PLANNING TIME TOGETHER:
Coordinate your calendars.
Decide if you’re in or out of balance on activities you have scheduled. Ask yourselves: “Do we need to change anything?” (Work towards agreement on commitments that will affect the family before you say, “yes” to anything.)
Schedule fun dating times with each other.
(You dated each other before marriage which helped you fall in love. Date each other now to help STAY in love.) Make sure your dating times are reserved for doing fun things together. This is not to be a time to talk about serious matters. It’s a time for you to enjoy each other’s company.
Here’s a link to an article explaining why this is so important:
Discuss your family goals and ministry goals.
Have goals that you’re mutually in agreement with and working on together as husband and wife. This keeps your relationship alive and growing together rather than apart.
Share with each other your “80/20” goals for the month.
These are goals, which will improve your life by 80 per cent. But they will require only 20 per cent of your time and effort. (This could include organizing or finishing a project that’s been bothering either of you for a long time.)
Share with and encourage each other in your hopes, dreams and personal goals.
(They could be self-study, dieting, reading, exercising, hobbies you want to pursue, pursuing further education, or just having some “Rest and Relaxation” time that’s important to you.)
Plan a “House Task” update:
Divide tasks in the house so you’re both in agreement. Decide together who is going to be in charge of what responsibility.
Have a quick budget review and ask yourselves:
- Where are we?
- Are we off balance in any area of our finances?
- Do we need to make any adjustments and if so, where and how?
- What’s the next major household expenditure we need to make?
- And what do we need to do now to make sure we have the money for it?
Discuss future vacation times.
Talk about what arrangements still need to be made and who’s in charge of doing what.
Decide when you’re to have your next planning time.
Work on other concerns that need your attention.
This is important so you’re on the same page as a couple. Bring up major discussion points that need to be talked through.
During Your Planning Times, Remember:
“Don’t let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.“ (Ephesians 4:29)
This can be a great time for a SANDWICH DISCUSSION. Each of you is to:
… Say some thing(s) you appreciate about your spouse.
… Tell your spouse some thing(s) that are bothering you. (You should limit this to no more than two as it can be overwhelming to your spouse if you’re giving them a “laundry list” of concerns.)
… Tell your spouse (again) something you also appreciate about them.
Sandwiching During Planning Times
The objective is to sandwich the “tougher meat” of what needs to be said in between appreciation. Appreciation is also important to communicate. If you don’t the other spouse may never know what you appreciate about them. Keep in mind that we’re to “Speak the truth in love.“ (Ephesians 4:15)
- Ask each other what you can be praying about for them in the upcoming days.
- Close your time by PRAYING TOGETHER. Try to work at getting comfortable praying aloud with and for each other. (You may feel awkward at first but eventually you’ll be blessed by it. This is too important of a part of your relationship to neglect.)
We hope you find this template helpful. We know it can be daunting at first. But trust us, if you can implement only a portion of this plan —especially to begin with, it will help de-stress your marriage and help you keep focused on things that truly matter.
“Good plans shape good decisions.”
“May He give you the desires of your heart and make all your plans succeed.“ (Psalm 20:4)
Cindy and Steve Wright
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