What Are Your Big Picture Marriage Goals for 2017?

by | Jan 4, 2017 | Marriage | 6 comments

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. Marriage New Year's Resolutions! Let's not just resolve, let's make some big picture marriage goals to make your marriage rock 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.” Gingrich explains:
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 tonightHelp sex to feel better for YOU Learn more about foreplay Try spicing things up with the Deck of Dares

Get out of debt

Try Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University Try the Use What You Have challenge

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!

Written by

Sheila Wray Gregoire


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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. TBG

    What a great post. And a great way to encourage us to focus our hearts, minds, and energy on those things God is calling us to do. It is so easy to keep saying we need to do something, but we need to really focus and make it our priority and that starts with prayer and being daily intentional with our time, energy and efforts.

    And, I agree, marriage is such a major area of attack right now and it is so foundational in our witness, in influencing children for Christ and in preserving our communities, that all of us should be looking at how we can continue to strengthen our marriages.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you, TBG!

  2. Flo

    I think friendship in the marriage is so importnat… Spending time together having fun, talking stupidities and laughing, playing chess or anything else… Feeling (mutually) that the other is your best friend. That’s such a good antelope 🙂

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      It is indeed!

  3. Sarah

    Love this post!!

    For this year, our “antelope” would be support. My husband is venturing into the world of self-employment in about two weeks (!!) and I know more than anything he needs my support. And, as a working mom of three (ages 4, 3 and 2 months), it’s safe to say I’ll be needing his support too!

    Thanks for this post!!

    -Sarah http://www.thefrugalmillionaireblog.com

  4. Melissa

    Hmmm…so if marriage and career are our two antelopes, but they’re kind of combined, does that make it, like, a water buffalo??? 😉

    We had a big change when two of my husband’s employees quit last week. So I have jumped in and am helping my husband run his business and getting some things sorted out that were kind of messy. It’s an adjustment for sure! We had the opportunity to go on a date the other night and it was like we have GOT to talk about something besides work!!! Then we stared blankly at each other for a good minute or so because work is kind of all-consuming at the moment. It won’t always be so all-consuming. This is just a season, and in the meantime we do our best to have healthy boundaries between work and home. I have a wonderful mentor mom from my MOPS group who has been a business owner along with her husband for a couple of decades and she is a huge support for me during this time!


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