Planning for the Future

I am a planner. Organization is medicinal for me, and it’s also imperative for my day-to-day functioning. In my defense, my slightly obsessive compulsive planning impulses were birthed out of necessity. Because of some high expectations and aspirations I have placed on my life, I have always juggled way too many tasks in too little hours, which is why I learned pretty quickly that organization and careful planning were my two best friends.

Planning is an acquired skill. Not everyone is great at planning, and in fact, a lot of people aren’t even good at it, but the good news is that the skill set needed for planning can be developed with a little practice and guidance. Always having everything arranged may sound like a drag, but never having a plan isn’t ideal either. I’m a firm believer in the saying, “Fail to plan, and you plan to fail.” At the same time, there is definitely a need for balance.

When it comes to relationships and planning, most people plan for their engagement and their wedding day, but all too often that is where it stops. What about after that? Not thinking about and planning for your future together beyond the wedding day can cause problems in a marriage.

Focusing on just the engagement and wedding day could mean that the relationship itself isn’t being thoroughly examined. Excitement for an engagement ring and a big wedding can sometimes blind couples from objectively and realistically inspecting their relationship. Are they the best for for each other? Are they really compatible for all the days and years together after the wedding day? Do their lives, interests, desires, passions, and plans align well? Did they seek confirmation from God?

It can be easy to get caught up in planning for a wedding day and forget all about the days to follow. Those days to follow, however, are what make up a marriage, and it’s essential to give it some thought.

Like with anything in a relationship, it is important to dialogue with your spouse over your future plans together. Take some quality time together to really think through what you both want out of your future as a couple and as individuals. Give each other space to share thoughts, feelings, and aspirations.

Planning for your future can be a really fun conversation to have. It clues you in to what is important to your spouse as well as what is important to you. Ask questions of one another. Does he/she have any specific goals? Do you? What would you like to accomplish together and individually? It is an interesting and vital discussion to have with one another.

It can be really interesting to write down what plans you and your spouse have. In a journal or safe place jot down a bulleted list and/or description of your five, ten, and fifteen (you can come up with any increments that sound appealing to you) plans. You can always add or subtract from it. When those time periods come around, sit down and take a look at what your plans were, and compare them to where you now. It’s a really fascinating and helpful thing to do together.

A word of caution about planning: plans are great, but you have to be flexible with them. For me, I was always so plan-oriented with my life neatly laid out before me. Then God stepped in and turned my plans upside down several times.

My plans were completely foiled and taken over by God’s plan for me, and it was the greatest thing that ever happened to me. It was difficult to see some of my aspirations and expectations overshadowed, but I learned the valuable lesson that plans can only take you so far, and then there’s faith. I quickly discovered that God’s plan is always the best plan!

While plans are important and helpful to have as a couple and as an individual, it is that much more vital to be willing to turn on a dime should God have something different in mind. God is the master planner, and He never makes mistakes. He can see what’s best for us when we can’t. Trust Him, have faith in Him, be obedient to Him, and always be willing to answer His call.

It’s easy to think that life will sort itself out and view planning as something that cramps the spontaneity of life. While there is a place and time for spontaneous action, there is also value in prudency. Take time to think about your future, especially as a couple, and aspire, plan, and dream about your life together.


Ashley McIlwain, M.A., is a Marriage and Family Therapist, speaker, and writer. She is the founder and C.E.O. of the non-profit organization, Foundation Restoration, and blog, which are comprehensive resources committed to restoring the very foundation of society – marriage. She is committed to and passionate about helping relationships thrive. Ashley holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Palm Beach Atlantic University and a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology with a specialization in Marriage and Family Therapy from Azusa Pacific University. Ashley previously served as Managing Editor for where she helped launch and develop the website into a hub for premarital preparation. Currently she and her husband, Steve, reside in Southern California.

  • mark

    Thanks Ashley for thegreat words of wisdom. My life is being changed and I feel God is directing me to become a marriage and family coach. Just starting the journey be also excited to see where it takes me. Thanks again for what you have written. Have a great weekend! Its almost here. 🙂

    • Mark, it is wonderful to hear that God is at work in your life and guiding you to make a difference. May He bless you along your journey to become a marriage and family coach! I appreciate your kind words of encouragement; it’s always thrilling to hear when someone enjoyed something I have written, so thank you for your feedback! You have a wonderful weekend too 🙂

  • Mary

    Hi Ashley,
    I’m a planner too, and I always have things laid out far in advance. How do we handle relationship struggles when our partner is not a planner and like things more spontaneous? Sometimes (a lot) I end up frustrated that I am the only one planning or seems to be concerned with things in the future.
    This contrast of planner/spontaneous always seems to bring up problems in my relationship.
    hope you have some suggestions,

  • runelle

    i have been swooshing in my life…met my husband in 2009…he was great..self made, disciplined…but no passion, plans for us, and not over the top went on with ups and downs and in mid 2012 i met someone else…had an affair one year before my marriage which continued almost 2 years after my marriage…he asked me out, wanted to marry me, spend his life with me..there was passion, love, intimacy, the best moments, the best love…i was confused or sitting on the fence…stress, strain, conflicts, finally he had a second child with his wife and i came to know almost months later. i was im with the first guy and dunno what im doing in life,…we have no plans together in life. we are just being.

    • Buff Stud

      In a case like this; no kids yet; no love; no passion; obviously no real respect… Yeah, HE NEEDS TO DIVORCE YOU.
      Nothing personal…

  • Buff Stud

    Lose weight before your marriage, and then WORK HARDER to lose weight AFTER… = A staple to success.

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