Avoiding & Solving Marital Problems
Part 1 - Discovering Your Goals

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(Jesus said...) "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.'' (Mt 19.5-6)


Two Parts

Bible Bell gets lots of messages with questions about marriage. Accordingly, we have published a two-part essay on this vital subject...

Part 1 (which you are now reading) discusses the need for you and your spouse to establish and discuss goals for your marriage.

Part 2 discusses methods for improving communications between you and your spouse.

Introduction to Part 1

In following paragraphs, we discuss the need for you and your spouse to set goals for your marriage.

Then we provide you with a Goals-Setting Form, and instructions for using it.

Jake's tale

To define what we mean by marital goals, we will start with Jake's tale. Although Jake's story has nothing to do with marriage, it teaches a valuable lesson on the problems of "hidden goals."


Jake is a young architect, just starting out in business. Although he has a very tight budget, Jake knows he needs a computer for his work.

  • Jake visits a computer retail store. When the salesperson asks Jake how he will use the computer, Jake answers, "Just simple stuff. I want something that's inexpensive."
  • Jake buys a basic, low-priced computer. Then, over the Internet, Jake buys a powerful Computer Automated Design (CAD) program.
  • To his dismay, Jake quickly learns that his cheap computer is unable to run the CAD program.
  • When Jake returns to the computer store he discovers that upgrading his low-end computer to do CAD will cost him a bundle. The store refuses to take his computer back or give him a trade-in.
Upshot? Jake is not a happy camper.  

What went WRONG?


Jake made at least two mistakes...

  • He didn't clearly reveal his goal to the computer store.
  • His goal of using a cheap computer to do Computer Automated Design was UNREALISTIC.

The three lessons illustrated by Jake's tale...

  • Lesson #1 -- All through life, people are glad, sad, or mad depending on how well events fulfill their goals.
  • Lesson #2 -- People sometimes set unrealistic goals.
  • Lesson #3 -- More often than not, people fail to clearly communicate their goals to one another.

Marriage expectations

When you get married...

  • You expect certain things of your spouse.
  • Your spouse expects certain things of you.

Marriages most often get in trouble because spouses fail to meet each other's goals and expectations.

In many cases, spouses fail to meet each other's marital goals for the simple reason that they have not honestly and clearly communicated them to one other.

Louise and Calvin's Tale

  Louise married Calvin, a hard working carpenter. They lived on a tight budget in order to put every possible penny into a savings account.
  • As the savings account grew, Calvin dreamed of being able to buy a house.
  • On the other hand, Louise dreamed of returning to college and becoming a nurse.
  • Three years into the marriage, and after the birth of two children, Calvin and Louise were shocked to learn that they were saving money with two altogether different goals in mind.

What went wrong?

  With neither of the two spouses willing to sacrifice their respective dream, Louise and Calvin decided to divorce.

Notice that neither of their expectations was out-and-out unreasonable. The problem was that...

  • Their expectations DID NOT MATCH.
  • They never clearly stated and discussed their respective goals.

When they divorced, Calvin and Louise spent many hours working out every little detail of how their money and property would be divided. They also made careful arrangements for child custody, child support, visitation rights, and so forth.

Isn't it ironic?
If Louise and Calvin had expended as much time and effort on discussing marriage goals as they did on making divorce arrangements, they might still be married !

Let's Get To Work!

Inventory of Marital Goals

  • The Inventory of Marital Goals is designed to get you and your spouse into a clear and productive discussion of your respective goals, expectations, and dreams for the future.
  • You should find it useful (perhaps even FUN) to complete this inventory -- whether you are engaged, newly-weds, or have been married for many years.
  • Many couples have found this effort to be extremely beneficial to their relationship.

How to do the Inventory

  • On a separate page, Bible Bell has provided a suggested form for you and your spouse (or intended spouse) to use in making an Inventory of Marital Goals.
  • You can use this form to get you and your spouse started on exploring your respective goals and expectations for your relationship.
  • Print out separate copies of the form for each of you.
  • Each partner should fill out the form independently.
  • The form is NOT perfect. You may have expectations or goals in other areas. If so, by all means feel free to add items, delete items, and edit the form as you see fit.
  • Answer each question based on what you want for the future. The objective is to reveal how you want your marriage relationship to be, NOT how it actually is.
  • Answer each question honestly. Do not use abusive language. Do not use the form to spell out your gripes and frustrations.
  • When completed, exchange forms with each other. After several days, get together and discuss them.


If your marriage discussions often lead to arguments, Bible Bell strongly recommends that you and your spouse meet with your Pastor to discuss your respective forms.


Form for Setting Marriage Goals

Marriage Study Part 2 - communicating with each other

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