By Guest Blogger Robbye Schroeder
What is a marriage mission, and why do newlyweds need one? Amid staggering divorce rates, there are a number of steps you can take to make sure your primary relationship remains strong. Many couples today are opting for a marriage mission as a way to help define their lives and prevent consumerism and an elusive American Dream from getting in the way of their shared time together. Defining your mission is like defining what your life will be about besides spending money, building careers, and raising children; after all, money issues are the number one reasons that over 50% of Americans get divorced. Careers divide our time and often drive us apart. And, children leave the nest at some point. A marriage mission is like a religious mission in that it requires that you both toward something larger than yourselves. It is like a military mission in that it involves strategy and tactical steps to make it real. Finally, it is like a corporate mission in that in can be summarized in one statement. The key to making it work is that both partners must be on board with the concept and the mission you design together. Follow these steps to get started planning, funding, and living your mission:
- Make a list of your combined gifts, talents, interests, passions, hobbies, and skills.
- Make a separate list of your shared values. To figure out what you actually value, look at your bank statements, your checkbook, your ATM records, and your calendar. How do you currently spend your money and time?
- Pick a people group. Are you passionate about children, women’s issues, dance, or finding a cure for cancer?
- Reflect on your answers to number one, two, and three, and create a sentence full of action verbs putting all three together. For example, “Our mission is to provide free music and arts programs for homeless children in our city.” Now, you’ve got a mission for your marriage.
- The key to making this marriage mission a reality is eliminating the clutter from your budget and calendar in order to get everything aligned with this mission. Apply the “80:20 Principle” to your life—what needs to go? What are the activities that are going to get you and your spouse closer to making this mission a reality? Try to eliminate all expenses except the 20% of things that give your life meaning and purpose.
- Create and live by a budget, and build your mission into the budget. Even if you can only give $25 a month to it now, give something and make it your goal to grow your giving annually.
- Take major action steps to put yourselves in touch with people already living your mission early on in your marriage. For example, if a local shelter provides after school arts and crafts programs, volunteer a couple of hours a week to get involved immediately with your people group.
- Consider setting up a Donor Advised Fund, which is a custodian account, similar to your 401(k). A DAF allows you to make contributions to charities of your choice. The money you allocate toward this account is immediately tax-deductible, and the funds grow tax-free until you and your spouse decide to disperse the funds to your favorite charity. This is essentially like starting a foundation without the legal fees and million dollar starting balance. Minimum balances vary with different custodians.
- Celebrate minor and major milestones in reaching your goals, and allow the mission to evolve over time as your interests and experiences change.
10. Evaluate and reflect on your mission annually to make sure you and your spouse are on the same page. You do not want the mission to separate you, if one spouse loses interest.
Find out more about Robbye at http://www.themarriagepurse.com