When I ask couples why they are getting married or why they chose their partner, they typically reply with phrases such as “because I love her,” “he’s my best friend,” “she’ll make a great wife and mother,” and “he has a great sense of humor.” These personal attributes and feelings are all wonderful ingredients for a happy marriage. When I ask the next question, “What is the purpose of your marriage?” the answer comes in a quizzical look. Many couples have not answered this second question for themselves, having been captivated by their “in love” feelings for each other. Helmenstine (2017) claims that oxytocin and endorphins fuel feelings of love for 18 months to 4 years. When the love chemicals dissipate, what will excite and sustain your marriage?
Keeping the marriage alive!
Those who enter marriage blindly typically do not fare as well as couples who seek premarital coaching. Parrott and Parrott (2016) share that ~ 40% of divorced couples claim that lack of pre-marriage preparation contributed to their divorce. The unfortunate statistics are that 20% of first marriages end in divorce within 5 years and 32% by 10 years (Avvo, 2010). The statistics are even higher for couples who marry more than once. For the average couple the love chemicals are replaced with feelings of attachment and comfort. Couples who thrive typically do so by adopting behaviors that love their spouse and reflect their marriage purpose. Chapman (2015) asserts that love is not a feeling but a verb in which spouses should intentionally love their partners in ways that speak to them. I propose that intentional love can be taken to a higher level by co-creating a marriage mission statement.
What is a marriage mission statement?
God has designed you for a purpose, and He has also called our marriages into a purpose? If you are married, are you living out your mission? Companies, ministries, and even individuals have mission statements, so why should your marriage be any different? The purpose of a marriage mission statement is to get clarity on what is important to you, help set a direction for your marriage, and provide grounding and guiding boundaries by which to live.
Now if you are saying, “It’s too late for us, because we’ve been married over 20 years,” I would respond that it is never too late to invest in your marriage. Why? Because a marriage mission is not about the past or present but entirely on a future vision. What do you want your marriage to become? Creating a marriage mission statement together is fun! Plan for a series of dates where the two of you spend quality time asking each other questions and sharing your deepest desires.
How do we write a marriage mission statement?
Your mission statement is as uniquely created as you are with the freedom to design its content, length, and style. The only criteria are it should excite you, align you as a couple, and give you sufficient clarity to know that you are living it. A recommended approach to build the content is to answer and discuss a series of questions intended to help you define a vision and explore values. If your marriage mission does not reflect your core values, the statement will likely be empty words on a piece of paper. Common elements in a mission statement may include a vision, values, dreams, goals, and actions that support its purpose. When you discuss your marriage vision and values, your mission and goals will tend to fill in the gaps to bring your statement to life.
Below is a sampling of questions to stimulate your thinking and conversation. Do not let this list inhibit you from exploring other questions. Your answers should reflect your passions and feelings involving God, family, community, and others.
- Describe your ideal marriage. What elements, conditions, activities, and behaviors would describe it?
- What do you dream of accomplishing? How would a marriage union help achieve that?
- How has God spoken into the future for your life and marriage?
- If your children were asked to describe your marriage, how would you want them to be able to answer?
- What causes are you willing to fight for?
- What are some of your core values?
- What are your non-negotiable behaviors?
- Where do you invest the best of your time, energy, and money?
- What Scriptures speak to your heart? How does God fit into your marriage mission?
- What are you excited and passionate to share alongside your spouse?
- What activities and accomplishments would describe your ideal marriage?
- What do you want to teach your children through your marriage relationship?
Living out your marriage mission!
Once you have a mission statement that reflects and excites you as a couple, think of short- and long-term goals that reflect that mission. What actionable steps can you take to move into your mission? Take time to pray to God to ask Him what he would like you to do. Ideally, you may want to select a Scripture that speaks to your marriage!
How will you share your marriage mission?
I pray that you have fun creating a marriage mission statement, but I would suggest you do not stop there. Your statement is a living and breathing manifestation of your future dreams. Could you use an accountability partner? I suggest you share your mission statement with other couples. Find those who are equally passionate about their marriage to join you, or perhaps be a mentor to a couple who wants to take the same journey. Get together twice a year, review your mission statements, and share how you are or are not realizing your goals. Make it a double or triple date, share your successes and challenges, and be sure to ask for support.
When should we refresh our marriage mission statement?
Life and marriage are a journey of unexplored roads. Your marriage mission statement may need to be tweaked when you reach major life milestones such as having a child, changes in career paths, and empty-nesting. With many couples spending more on their wedding ceremony than they do investing in their marriage, I pray you will take the time to plan for the glorious purpose of your marriage. What do you want to accomplish with your soulmate? What do you want your marriage to reflect back into the world? Your choices will decide!
Avvo. (2010). Marriage and divorce statistics. Retrieved from https://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/marriage-divorce-statistics
Chapman, G. (2015). The five love languages: The secret to love that lasts. Chicago, IL; Northfield Publishing.
Helmenstine, A. (2017). The chemicals of love: Love chemicals and chemistry of love. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/the-chemistry-of-love-609354
Parrott, L. & Parrott, L. (2016). Saving your marriage before it starts assessment: Facilitator training manual.
About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and mentor with an extensive background in leadership and ministry, which provides her with the experience and relational skills to move individuals and couples to higher levels of personal awareness, effectiveness, and goal achievement. She coaches in a variety of areas including life purpose and plans, premarital/marriage, and finances.