Vision Drift in Marriage


I visited my son’s church yesterday and heard their senior minister give a message on Vision.  It was an inspiring sermon of the importance of not only setting a vision, but ensuring that you continually pour effort into it to keep it on track and alive.  As he alluded, this is as true for a marriage or a business as it is for a church.

That got me thinking.  While no one really discusses it in such terms, a couple that decides to wed is clearly setting a vision for their future relationship.  It probably contains spending valued time together, birthing and raising of children and ultimately growing old together.  No one sets the following goals as part of their vision:

  • We will one day live independent lives in the same house, barely speaking when we bump into on another
  • We will sit at restaurants in silence only conversing with the waitress
  • I will spend all my free time on the golf course (substitute fishing, video games or any other hobby here), and you will spend yours with your friends.
  • We will each take a child into our confidence and keep secrets from one another (e.g. “don’t tell your mom…”)
  • I will complain about my spouse to anyone that will listen

How is it that these points are so real, for so many marriages?  And these fall in the 50% that don’t end in divorce.  It’s Vision Drift.  If a couple doesn’t revisit the Vision that they initially set for themselves it will over time veer off track.  It’s not obvious that it is happening at the moment, but it happens.  The minister used the analogy of playing in the ocean.  You spend enough time out there and you look up to realize that your beach chair and cooler have moved (or so it seems).

My counsel to couples would be this.  Take some time each year to revisit your Vision.  See how you’re doing compared to where you thought you’d be.  (Visions can be adjusted over time, and there’s many good reasons to do so.  But letting them erode due to inattention is a tragedy.)  What do you need to change?  Is your focus in the right areas?  I’m convinced that an occasional revisit could go a long way toward building a sustainable (and fantastic) marriage.  Just like a leaky bucket, if you don’t continually pour into your Vision, eventually it will run dry.  And that’s certainly not where you intended to be when you started out.

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