Heeding my own advice about technology as a distraction, this weekend we unplugged the TV that has been in our bedroom since the birth of our 4th child late last year. Our original reason for the TV in the room, which was against our better judgement, was to give Stephanie something to do while she nursed in the wee hours of the night. That decision quickly bled into allowing the TV to be on at other times during the day and evening. Despite only having the local channels via rabbit ears, this turned into a distraction for both of us.
Our first night without the TV in the room, we laid on the bed talking about life. It was wonderful. One of the topics we talked about was the mission/vision of our marriage and family. We’d talked about this before, early on in marriage, but hadn’t revisited this topic in a number of years.
There have been a lot of books dedicated to helping businesses, and people, develop mission and vision statements. I’ve been through a few courses and programs to help me craft and create a mission and vision for my own life. As my dad would say “if you aim for nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” Most marriages have no mission or vision for where they are headed. If you ran a business, you would be forced to know where you’re going or risk running out of money or people. The same is true for marriages. Without a clear and communicated mission, many marriages struggle for meaning. This struggle often leads to blaming the other person for why our goals are not getting accomplished.
Playing the blame game, or cops and robbers as I like to conceptualize it, will always create diversions and division in your marriage. You cannot be safe when there’s blame to dull out. One of the ways to keep blame from entering a relationship is to have a common mission. This mission is something that you both create and craft together that keeps you on the same team.
Creating your marriage mission statement
The first step is to identifying your marriage mission is to brainstorm together. Brainstorming is like free-time on the playground — there are no rules, right or wrongs. Let anything that comes to mind be stated and not be judged (even by yourself).
Every mission statement (be it a marriage or business) needs to address the following questions:
1. What are the opportunities or needs we see that we want to address? (the purpose of the marriage) This could be an internal (in the marriage) need or an external (in the community) need. One of our favorite things to do together is hosting. This takes shape in having friends over for dinner, out-of-town guests stay for a weekend, or having other families come over and enjoy good food, drink, and conversations. We often dream about opening a Bed and Breakfast together once we are empty nesters. We see a need for fellow travelers to have a place of respite. We want to create a home that is a respite for ourselves, as well as others.
2. What are we doing to address these needs? (the business of the marriage)
More than likely you’ve already begun moving towards addressing these needs, but perhaps you’ve not identified it as such. This is the time to look at where and how you spend your time and identify what the purposes are.
3. What principles or beliefs guide our marriage/relationship? (the values of the marriage)
This is where your spiritual beliefs and ideas need to be discussed. What role do you want God to play in your marriage, and how will this impact the needs we answered in question 1?
4. What are your unique strengths both individually and together as a couple?
Answer this question separately, and then share your answers together. There are three parts of this question: My strengths, My Spouse’s strengths, The Couple’s strengths. Often times we see in others what they cannot see for themselves. This is a good opportunity to speak some truth into your spouse’s life.
5. What goals do you want to accomplish in life together?
Setting goals will help you to identify what your you want your marriage mission statements to look like (i.e., we want to take a big vacation every 3 years … the mission of this could be that we want to create memories and adventures together). If you are thinking of starting a family be sure to add what values you will teach them into your statement as well.
Now that you’ve answered these questions, you’re ready to write your marriage mission statement. Here are some guidelines that will help you to craft your statements:
- Short and sweet. Make sure that you can remember what your mission is without having to pull the dusty file folder out of your closet out to find your printed version.
- Avoid clichés.
- Mission statements do not need to shame or cause guilt-trips.
- KISS – Keep It Simply Simple
- Use proactive verbs that describe what you want to do/accomplish.
- A good marriage mission statement will provide vision and clarity when life happens.
- Keep it up to date. Review your mission a couple of times a year to see how you’re doing.
When you’re done, come back to this article and share about your experience, and what you’re newly created mission statement is.