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Q&A: How do you set goals if your spouse isn’t a goal-setter?

How to Set Goals When Your Husband Is Not a Goal-Setter

How would you go about setting family goals if your spouse is not a big goal-setter? It’s not at all that he’s lazy or doesn’t care about improvement or seeing our family grow, he’s just not a planner by nature and doesn’t enjoy the process where you think through last year and think about the coming year. -an anonymous reader

What a great question — and I think it’s one that many people wonder about. Here are some thoughts I have:

1. Don’t Nag

If you want to ruin your relationship, start trying to nag and drag your spouse along with your latest and greatest ideas. It’s a recipe for disaster — and discord.

2. Don’t Compare

It’s so easy to see other marriages and wish ours could be like theirs. Or to hear someone else talk about how great their spouse is and to wish our spouse would be more like that.

But here’s the deal: no marriage is even remotely perfect. All marriages have struggles. All spouses have flaws. Spend your time looking for things to be thankful for about your marriage instead of wasting time wishing your spouse would change.

How to Set Goals When Your Husband Isn't a Goal-Setter

3. Do Communicate

I encourage you to sit down with your spouse and share your heart. Gently communicate your desires to be a little more intentional as a family.

However, when you sit down to discuss this, it’s vitally important that you come with an open mind. Don’t have everything all mapped out and badger your spouse into signing off on your plan.

Listen to your spouse’s thoughts and concerns. If your spouse sees that you genuinely want their input, they are going to be much more apt to considering joining you in the journey. But they will likely resist from the get-go if you don’t seem to care about their desires and or have any willingness to hear them.

4. Do Focus on YOU

Communicate your desires, but leave your expectations for your spouse at the door. It’s wonderful to be working toward things together as a couple, but if your spouse just isn’t interested in goal-setting right now, you can still set goals that don’t require the involvement or participation of your spouse. (For instance, if you look at my 12 Goals for 2014, you’ll see that most all of them don’t require any participation from anyone but me.)

You are the only person you can change in a relationship. So invest your efforts in improving YOU instead of spending time frustrated that your spouse isn’t changing.

Related Post: What Do You Do If You’re a Spender Who Is Married To a Saver?

What advice and suggestions do the rest of you have for this reader?

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9 Comments

  • Kim says:

    My husband was not a goal setter a couple of years ago and I tried to pull him into the process but he wasn’t going for it. So I pushed on for me and set my goals and would include him in the process and would ask him what I needed to work on for myself. Then eventually he started to set his own goals and that has morphed into specific and concrete goals for our family!

  • Tanya says:

    My husband isn’t a goal setter at all and I had racked my brain trying to get him to see my way. Finally I just started setting goals that affected the family on my own and then once I completed one of them showed him. This helped him see that my obsessing was actually paying off and now he has started to realize how great meeting those goals feels. Our big one that I started with was financial as is most peoples it seems. When I showed him that in 7 months with small changes and determination I was able to pay off $11,000 worth of debt that had been haunting us he was amazed. Now he isn’t perfect but he doesn’t laugh at my little lists that are always laying on my desk anymore. Good luck!

  • Lety says:

    Excellent recommendations. My husband is not completely there with me on the goal setting, so I had to rethink my goals to make sure I am tracking my actions and not my husband’s. For example, my chores list (that I am currently aiming to fully complete at least a few times a week), had chores on it that I am not physically able to do. I took those off of my list and only track the ones I can. I’m no longer pressuring him by asking if he completed a chore so that I can check it off on my goals list. It is working out much better for both of us. 🙂

  • Michelle says:

    I wish I had learned earlier in my marriage this concept.I spent years being a nag! Now that we’ve been married almost 17 years, I’ve learned a lot about guarding my words and allowing him to lead our family. You’re right, I can only set goals/ expectations for myself, and I’ve been really surprised at how much it encourages him to do the same. Thanks, Crystal!

  • annie says:

    BINGO
    OGNIB
    whatever it takes 🙂

    my spouse is also not a goal setter. Funny how I never wrote down my own goals or had a written plan to reach any of the goals swimming around in my head. If anything they were more like wishes. guess my spouse wasn’t the only one who doesn’t set goals.

    Reading this book with an open heart gives me the courage to change.

  • Laura says:

    A very timely post – I’ve been increasingly frustrated with my husband as he seems stuck in a rut. He’s at a job he hates and that continues to demand more and more of his time with no additional compensation (for February he will work every day including Saturday and Sunday). On the flip side he has been offered a job at the same pay with half as many hours – but he has to go back to school again for a second Masters. He won’t do it – I know part of it is that he hates change, part of it is that he’s indignant that they want him to have more education, part of it is that he’s been out of school for 10 years now and doesn’t know if he can cut it. I have done every one of the “don’ts” on this list. What can I do? I need him to do what’s best for his family, what’s best for me, what’s best for himself. At a total loss.

  • Laura says:

    My husband is the same, works hard and wants to improve his life, but not a goal setter. This has been so frustrating to me because I want someone to be spurring me on in my goals, and I want to be inspired by his goal setting ambitions. Last December, we were in a marriage Bible study and one of the topics was goal setting. This was really helpful for us because it helped us have a really good open conversation about goals and it helped him work through many of the negative connotations he had about goal setting. The marriage book we were studying had a chapter on goal setting and gave specific areas to set goals in. Is your husband open to talking about goals and setting goals together like household or financial? If so, maybe a book on goal setting as a couple would be helpful to get a conversation going and help him work through some of his angst over goal setting, and then a book could also give some step by step advice on setting goals together. This worked for us since my even though my husband had zero interst in goal setting, but was at least willing to have a conversation about it. Hope that helps. And like the others have said, prayer, prayer, and more prayer!

  • Cassie says:

    My husband isn’t a planner either. If I want to set goals he sees it as me being dissatisfied with how things are. If I want to increase our income it’s because he doesn’t earn enough. If I want a bigger house one day, I don’t like our home.

    He’ll say things like “you are bored of our home, bored of your job, bored of our life. One day soon you’ll get bored of me and divorce me for someone who has a better paid job and can give you a big house where you’ll never have to work.”

    I’ve tried to explain, and that isn’t my view on it at all, to me it’s about working and growing together to build a better life for ourselves. Together. As a family. But to him wanting to change means not liking what you have, and as he can’t see it ever changing that means I’ll leave him.

  • Ana says:

    I’ll start setting my goals with what I have or can now . Bills get paid and all but when it comes to saving is his money and my money not our money n equal parts to blame . I give up doing the grocery shopping as when it came the end of the fortnight there was lots of noggin about what we had n didn’t have for meals. He can deal with grocery shopping although he is able to follow my grocery shopping pattern 80 percent of what I would buy is still hard for me as I’m not in control of this . He is not one to waste money but we can’t seem to have the right language to talk when it comes to setting goals together n is not just about money well I believe this will change with a lot of learning patience and prayer

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