What are your big picture marriage goals for 2017?
I’m not talking about New Year’s Resolutions. I just mean the big areas of your life where you’re going to laser focus so that you can grow.
Every Wednesday for nine years now I’ve written on the blog about marriage. It’s Wifey Wednesday! And for this first Wednesday of 2017, I want to take a big picture view and ask us to think about where we want to head this year.
Yesterday I was reading a speech that Newt Gingrich gave explaining the rise of Trump and how he believes Trump is going to be a transformational president (this sounds like it’s going to get political, but it really isn’t. Trust me.)
Anyway, I found the speech fascinating not because of what he said about Trump but because of the concepts he talked about regarding leadership and change in general. And there was one concept that really stood out to me that I can’t stop thinking about with regards to marriage.
He was telling a story about Ronald Reagan’s approach to the presidency. Here it is in a nutshell: Reagan understood something fundamental about what you should focus on. Take canivores in nature, like a lion, for instance. A lion can get nutrition from a whole bunch of sources–it can eat zebra and antelope, but it could also eat chipmunks, if it wished. The problem is that if a lion tried to catch chipmunks, that lion would starve, because the amount of energy that it required to catch a chipmunk was more than the amount of energy the chipmunk provided.
So for a lion to be successful, he had to ignore the chipmunks, and go for the antelopes.
When Reagan approached the presidency, he had three big antelopes: Defeat the Soviet Union. Build America’s economy. Restore faith in American civic society. So everyday, when he woke up, he would ask himself, “What am I going to do today? Defeat the Soviet Union. Build America’s economy. Renew faith in American civic society.”
He’d walk into the oval office, and a chipmunk would run in. We get $10 billion dollar federal chipmunks. Reagan was really a disciplined, pleasant guy, and so he would listen, and the chipmunk would explain the problem, and Reagan would say, you are a terrific chipmunk. Have you met Jim Baker?
Baker, as Chief of Staff, became the largest chipmunk collector in the world.
I don’t know why, but I LOVE that story. I told it to four different people yesterday. It works for me. If it wasn’t one of Reagan’s big things, he would pass it off so he could concentrate on what he was called to do.
And the apostle Paul had a similar philosophy. In 1 Corinthians 2:2, he wrote,
For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
The gospel was his antelope. And he ignored all the chipmunks.
In 2016, without really conceptualizing it this way, I had two antelope when it came to prayer, too. Every morning, I would wake up and pray for my two antelope. I would go to sleep praying for those two antelope. I would take prayer walks throughout the day, and while I also prayed for other things, I was praying 80% for my two antelope.
Can we use the antelope/chipmunk idea to make our marriages rock in 2017?
I think we can. Here’s how:
Let your marriage be an antelope.
At its most fundamental, let your marriage be an antelope this year. I’m not just saying that because I write a marriage blog and I want you to like the stuff I like. Marriage isn’t just another hobby or another thing you can improve. Marriage is really THE thing. Think about it this way: Would you rather your marriage prosper and your work suffer, or your work prosper and your marriage suffer?
In the short term some people may pick work. But in the long term, people pick marriage, because it’s only relationships that can feed our souls. You can always find new and different work; find a new and different marriage, and you lose so much in the process.
Or what about this: if you want your kids to do well, it is more important for them that you and your husband are rock solid than it is that they have tons of activities or even a big house.
What does it look like to have your marriage be an antelope?
It means everyday, when you wake up, you say a prayer for how you can grow your marriage today. It means that throughout the day, your focus is on “what can I do today to build my marriage?” Maybe you iron all your husband’s shirts, for no reason except to serve him. Maybe you plan a date night. Maybe you pull out the 2-player board games so you can connect without a screen.
Or maybe you rearrange your schedule so that you’re going to bed at a decent hour and you can have time to connect. Maybe you start flirting with your husband more.
But the point is that one of the big things that you consciously think about, all day, everyday, is “what can I do to build my marriage today?” And if something comes on your plate that would take away from your marriage, then you say no (because it’s a chipmunk!).
Take it one step further: What are your antelopes IN marriage? Make some marriage goals!
Some years I have decided to focus on building my sex life, because it had gotten boring, or we’d never quite figured everything out yet. Some years I have decided to focus on building our friendship, or our spiritual life and praying together more.
But there are also other kinds of antelopes: Maybe you need to focus together this year on how to get out of debt or start saving. Maybe you need to focus on how to raise a specific child. Maybe you need to focus on how to get retraining so that you can get a better job that provides a better lifestyle (like no shift work, for example).
Just as you make marriage an antelope, so it would be great to choose (together if possible) an antelope or two for you to work on together this year. Imagine if you could laser-focus on getting out of debt this year. If everything else was a chipmunk compared to that one big antelope, imagine the dent that you could make in your debt! Everything would be seen through that lens.
I’ve written a lot on this blog that can help you with various antelopes, and I’d like to end this big-picture idea post with some suggestions on how you can start capturing these antelopes:
Feeling more emotionally connected this year
Take my FREE 5-lesson course! Sign up right here.
Find a new hobby to do together
Start talking more using these conversation starters
Start a new daily check in with your husband
Go to bed at the same time
Seeing your sex life thrive
Try 31 Days to Great Sex with your husband! (the ebook is only $4.99. You’ve got nothing to lose!)
Flirt more with your husband
Figure out how to initiate sex
Get more sexy with him: ask him sexy questions, or practice new ways of saying “you’re going to get lucky tonight”
Help sex to feel better for YOU
Learn more about foreplay
Try spicing things up with the 24 Sexy Dares
Get out of debt
Try Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University
Try the Use What You Have challenge
Join the Grocery Budget Bootcamp (this is a great program; check out the free training she’s got!)
Stick around the blog–in two weeks we’ll do a whole week on finances in marriage!
Learn how to communicate your needs better
Pick up 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage–it helps you have way more productive conversations, feel more loved, and understand what a close, intimate marriage looks like.
Have those difficult conversations
Learn how to resolve conflict without blaming each other, and find the win-win
Be a PeaceMAKER, not a PeaceKEEPER
Decide to get some marriage counselling
Set more goals together and plan for the future
Dreaming Together printables–for developing a vision for your family
What to do when God calls you to wait for a season
What to do when your goals aren’t the same
Grow your marriage with God
Pray more together!
Get a new vision of what a spiritual leader looks like–especially if you don’t think your husband is one
Memorize Bible verses at the dinner table this year (here are 50 to get you started!)
Do you have a different antelope in mind?
Just leave a comment and tell me what it is, and I’ll try to point you to some posts!
But this year, remember: going after too many chipmunks won’t just cause you to miss your antelope. It will cause you to wither up and miss EVERYTHING. What are your antelope? Pray about it. Let God show you. Then pray for that antelope constantly, and throw your energy at figuring out how to capture it. Make 2017 a year that you actually do make a real difference in your marriage!