Why Should We Make a Plan?
A Plan is a statement of desired future outcomes and the steps necessary to move from the present state to the desired future state. A proper plan considers the resources available, and if additional resources are necessary, how they can be obtained. Everyone makes plans. Perhaps the most relevant example, is the plan couples make when they are planning a wedding. But, a plan can be as simple as a list of items you intend to buy at the grocery store. Your Collaborative Marriage Plan can be as detailed or as generalized as you wish. It is rare for a couple to make a Plan for their lives together once the wedding and honeymoon are over, despite how common and essential planning is in our daily lives.
It includes both individual and joint goals, and sets initial priorities for moving forward toward your goals. A Marriage Plan gives your relationship a direction and focus, and provides a means of measuring progress and monitoring changes in objectives over time. A marriage plan is there to serve the two of you, not the other way around.
It requires thinking about near term objectives for moving toward your goals and describing the strategies you expect to use to achieve your objectives. It may be that despite a maximum amount of effort you are unable to reach your objectives for the term of the plan, or it could be that your objectives change along the way. It could even be that your objectives were not difficult enough and they were achieved early in the plan term. In all these cases the Plan objectives can be changed to keep up with and adjust to reality as it unfolds.
We set a three to five year term for the plan in recognition of the fact that circumstances change over time. Regardless of how often the plan needs to change, having a plan is an important factor in giving the relationship direction and purpose.
If it seems that way, you are right. Couples have systematically avoided making plans for their lives together because life seems so uncertain, and because of the romantic idea that people should enter into the life-long adventure and journey of marriage with little more than a compass and a promise to face the unknown future together. But, while the image is romantic and contains elements of truth, the reality is that there are things about which couples can be relatively certain for the near future and beyond. For example, we make education and career plans, plans for a family, as well as retirement plans, even though events and circumstances sometimes interfere. Planning is a basic and essential life skill.
So, it is possible to Plan a life together, especially, if the Plan is done as a series of relatively short term steps. Collaborative Marriage Planning uses 3-5 years as a practical planning horizon. The Plan may be serviceable beyond then, or need to be revised sooner, or a new plan might be called for, but that doesn’t change the importance, or the benefit, of having a Plan.
Developing a Plan is an exercise in arriving at a common, agreed upon, vision for the relationship and its goals. A Plan gives the relationship agreed upon objectives to work toward. It gives the relationship focus and direction, as well as a reference against which to measure progress.