Four Goals For a Happy Marriage

One night on our honeymoon (4 1/2 years ago), my brand new husband and I went out for
dinner. My sweetheart had brought along his notebook and promptly pulled it out after we were
seated. With his typical boyish glow, he said “I think we should set some goals for our marriage!” I
thought he was cute (and that it was a good idea), so we did.

We talked about how our relationship was important to us and that we wanted to keep it that
way. We also wanted to qualify for Heavenly Father’s blessings. So the foundation was laid and
the goals fell into place. They are small and simple goals, but “by small means the Lord can bring about great things”(1 Nephi 16:29).

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These are the goals we came up with:

1. Go on Weekly Dates. My husband brought this up and I thought it was a great idea, but I
suggested that we define a date. I said “I can just see me in a few years and a couple of kids
later. We’re sitting in front of the TV, maybe on the same couch, watching a movie for our
date and I’m folding mountains of laundry” (why not double-task, right?).

So to prevent that, I suggested the rule that our date be out of the house. Also, if we go on a
double date, that doesn’t count as our date, because we wouldn’t really be dating each other,
we would be dating (strengthening our relationship with) the other couple. So double dates are
OK. . . but we also need a date for just us that week. Another rule is that once kids came along,
most of our dates would have to be without the kids (we have two little ones now and probably
only bring them with us once every two or three months, so I feel alright about that). We’ve had
dates every week of our four years of marriage so far; and I tell ya what, when life gets hard with
the kids, I look forward to those dates like Christmas!

Many couples permit their marriages to become stale and their love to grow cold like old bread or worn-out jokes or cold gravy. These people will do well to reevaluate, to renew their courting, to express their affection, to acknowledge kindness, and to increase their consideration so their marriage again can become beautiful, sweet, and growing. . . .[R]eal, lasting happiness is possible, and marriage can be more an exultant ecstasy than the human mind can conceive.
-Spencer W. Kimball [i]

2.  Attend the Temple. My husband and I aimed for a temple wedding,
but it wasn’t just because we wanted our wedding pictures outside of a beautiful building–we
wanted our family to be together forever! To have such a blessing though, it takes more than
just exchanging wedding vows, it’s a life-long process of keeping our temple covenants. By
attending the temple often, we can remember and recommit ourselves to live the covenants we
made there.

As I said, we wanted to attend the temple “often”. Since we live within 20 minutes of four temples,
we decided that “often” meant to each attend three times per month. Growing up, I lived 3 hours
away from the temple, my ward members often attended once per month. This is something that
differs based on individual circumstance. It’s something that can be decided after prayerful
consideration.

So 3-6 times per month our cute little family car is parked outside of the Mount Timpanogos or
Provo temple. Why 3-6 times per month? Let me tell you! I remember being a young teenager
and sitting with my family on the pew at church. A high councilman was speaking that Sunday
and although I was way too young to be endowed and/or married, for some reason what he said
has never left me. He told the congregation that too many of us aren’t going to the temple often
enough because couples are waiting until it’s convenient to go together as a couple. . .and that
time never comes (or it rarely comes). As nice as it is to go as a couple, the priority is to
remember (and in effect, renew) those precious covenants and to do work for our dead. With
that in mind, there are many months that my husband and I don’t get to go together as a couple
at all, instead we go six separate times. The blessings are still evident!

“Frequent participation in temple service and regular family scripture study nourish a marriage and strengthen faith within a family.” -Russell M Nelson [ii]

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3. Read The Book of Mormon Together Every Day. When we married, the man
who performed the ceremony (the sealer) talked about the sacredness of temple marriage and
gave us some marriage advice. He promised that if, in addition to our personal study, we read a
chapter of The Book of Mormon together every day, our marriage would be strengthened. Our
3-year-old has joined with us now and will repeat phrases after we read them until she finishes a
verse or two. This can be a little wild with a preschooler and a toddler and it’s not always super
spiritual, but I feel like the Lord is pleased with our efforts. Even though it’s a “small and simple
thing”, we’re nearing our seventh time completing the Book of Mormon since we got married; and
we feel that the blessings have been great.

I feel certain that if, in our homes, parents will read from the Book of Mormon prayerfully and regularly, both by themselves and with their children, the spirit of that great book will come to permeate our homes and all who dwell therein. The spirit of reverence will increase; mutual respect and consideration for each other will grow. The spirit of contention will depart. Parents will counsel their children in greater love and wisdom. Children will be more responsive and submissive to the counsel of their parents. Righteousness will increase. Faith, hope, and charity—the pure love of Christ—will abound in our homes and lives, bringing in their wake peace, joy, and happiness. – Ezra T. Benson [iii]

4. Pray as a Couple Together Every Night. This is another item that our sealer recommended
to us. Praying together helps to bring the Spirit and unites us as a couple. I love hearing my
husband thank Heavenly Father for me–it gives me warm fuzzies. I also love praying for
specific things for him–to express my appreciation or ask for special blessings for him.

“I know of no single activity that has more potential for unifying our families and bringing more love and divine direction into our homes than consistent, fervent family prayer.” -John H Groberg [iv]

These four goals have blessed our marriage. They have bonded and united us. They have
helped us hold on to the things that matter most–each other and the Lord. Our temple wedding
day was great, but with these goals, our temple marriage has been incredible!

What are your goals?

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After growing up in the bitter cold of Alberta Canada and serving a mission in the scalding heat of Tucson Arizona, I finally settled for the “moderate” climate of Utah. I met my best friend and love of my life at BYU where I received my degree in Marriage and Family Studies. I stay at home with my two little girls, teach marriage classes with my husband, and run an alumni Facebook group. I love to write, bake, travel, teach, and feast upon the words of Christ, but my favorite happy thought of all is going on weekly dates with my husband!

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  • Thank you Courtney! I LOVE this post.
    I love setting goals, and I love it when the hubs and I do it together.

    Right now, we’re working on the small and simple ones, that are often the hardest! Nightly prayers together, daily scripture study and pondering, and showing our affection in more small physical ways – i.e.: hand holding, stroking the back of the head, loving gazes… etc.

    • Thanks Kelly! I love your goals–I heard that one thing busy couples of children can do to connect during the day is to touch each other every time they pass each other in the hall. It could be touching their hand/shoulder/back, whatever! It’s just a good way to let the other spouse know you love them. And simple things like that can contribute toward helping a spouse feel loved whose “love language” is touch! I’m so glad you’re doing that! So fantastic!