A shared vision for your marriage helps you make the most of your life together.
A major turning point in our marriage came when my wife & I sat down and completed the “Creating a Shared Vision in Marriage” exercise — you can find a link to the exercise below.
We had been struggling to find time together. We worked different hours and our calendar was filled with all kinds of random obligations.
Making matters worse, we didn’t often agree how to spend the little time we had together.
We were drifting apart. I realized — if we were going to enjoy the long stretch of marriage before us — we needed to be proactive in making time for each other.
We also needed to do a much better job of identifying activities we could enjoy together.
Enter the “Creating a Shared Vision in Marriage” exercise…
Writing down our goals — all of them
We each got out a piece of paper and wrote down all our dreams for ourselves, for our married life together, and for the family we would be starting. We also wrote down our dreams for each other.
My wife wrote she dreamed of quiet time with me — no television, no cell phone, no sports, no family, no friends. “Peter, I am married to you… I dream of having you in my marriage” are words I will never forget.
I had written I dreamed of our home being a social center. My wife said that would be her worst nightmare.
We often had stubborn stalemates. I would tell my wife, “let’s have friends over this Friday,” and she would respond, “no, let’s have a quiet evening together.”
I didn’t get the time with friends I dreamed of, but my wife didn’t get to enjoy the evening either. How could you enjoy spending time with a husband upset he didn’t get his way?
The Creating a Shared Vision exercise helped us both get what we want.
I asked my wife how much quiet time with me she needed. She said two dates per week — the dates didn’t have to involve leaving the house — and four weekends per year.
She even said I could pick when this “us time” happens.
I told her these were reasonable requests, and I committed to them on the spot.
I then told her I didn’t need friends over all the time, but just once a month I’d like to have a party and not have her complain about it. She agreed to be cheerful about a party once a month. I agreed not to ask her twice!
An opportunity to broaden your horizons
One of the great outcomes of the Shared Vision exercise is it challenged us to diversify our life together. In considering her dreams, I asked my wife to write down not only the things she enjoys doing — but things she might enjoy doing.
One of the surprise joys of our marriage is how much theater has enriched our life together. We discovered through the exercise seeing a show together was something we would both enjoy — and we made a commitment to go to theater once every two months.
This single inspiration from completing the Creating a Shared Vision exercise 18+ years ago has led us to enjoy more than one hundred shows together.
We took in a performance of The Fiddler on the Roof several years ago that was filled with such intense feeling the memory of show still warms my heart all these years later.
The Creating a Shared Vision exercise led us to adopt these additional goals:
I agreed to cheerfully spend a week at the beach every summer with my wife — something she enjoys.
She agreed to embrace my annual football trip with my brother. This year we’ll be going to the Notre Dame-BYU game in Las Vegas’s new Allegiant Stadium — the game is still seven months away, but the anticipation of attending it fills many of my days with joy.
We agreed to make a tradition of visiting a new and different city each Memorial Day weekend. Once we had visited all the obvious destinations, we found we had to get out the map, and we’ve discovered many new places worthy of an extended, return stay.
My favorite outcome from the exercise is we embraced the goal of doing one new thing every month we’ve never done before — my biggest fear, I had shared with my wife through the exercise, was getting bored.
Be sure to make a return visit to this blog as soon I will be posting “101 things my wife & I have done to keep our marriage and family life interesting.”
And, yes, as this is a marriage blog — but we will keep it PG — the exercise led us to discuss our dreams for our love life, and how we’d like to keep passion alive in our marriage through the years.
Our dreams for each other
The Shared Vision exercise also encouraged us to share our dreams for each other.
My wife is a homebody — there is nothing wrong with that — but I dreamed she would go out more often and spend more time with her friends, something that would be undeniably good for her.
My wife dreamed I would stay home more often! Her hope for me was I would learn to relax — we don’t always have to be doing something — and she was right about that.
Over the years, thanks to the exercise, my wife has cheerfully embraced our more frequent “outside” adventures, and I have learned to enjoy the quiet time with her she so loves.
The Shared Vision exercise was also a vehicle for us to share the big dreams we had. I was surprised to discover my wife dreamed of us having “children who would make the world a better place to live.”
I had no idea she was thinking so deeply about the kids we hoped to have — and here I was dreaming of us having parties!
Keeping life interesting during a pandemic
We first completed the Creating a Shared Vision in Marriage exercise not long after our wedding day — when we noticed the growing distance between us.
We’ve made it a point to update our answers every year since then — and after major life transitions.
Early in Covid, with everything in lockdown, we realized our lives could get real boring, real quick. So we drafted new goals appropriate for the circumstances.
We turned our living room into a home theater so we could still take in plays together. Like so many, we tried our hand at baking bread. We even managed to visit Tokyo — virtually.
Being limited in our ability to travel to other states, we decided to get to know New York better, and we visited more than a dozen towns and cities, some of which we had never heard of — and we loved it.
Marriage is long. One of the most important things couples can do is keep it interesting.
The Creating a Shared Vision in Marriage exercise continues to be an invaluable tool for us in our effort to do so.
Schedule a time to discuss your answers to the Creating a Shared Vision in Marriage exercise.
Be sure to have a shared calendar up and running. Our calendar is the “scoreboard” that holds us accountable for keeping the commitments we made to each other.
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