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.

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