Marriage Goals, Expectations and Values

Here are three separate exercises that will help you explore your marriage goals, marriage expectations and values.

You can do one of them or all three. They are all easy and fun.

Exercise 1: My Uncle Left Me a Million Dollars!

Its fun to dream and our dreams say a lot about what is important to us.

Let’s say your favorite uncle left you a million dollars!

  • What would you do with the money?

You might want to write out your answers separately, and then come together to discuss what you’ve written.

You can learn a lot about each others aspirations, values and hopes.

Exercise 2: My Best Family Vacation

This is a simple and fun exercise and one in which you can learn a lot about each other.

  • Each of you describe your favorite vacation and what made it so.

Aside note: Gary Smalley who writes and speaks widely on marriage and family topics has found in questioning thousands of people in his seminars that the one activity that seems to bring families close more than any other single thing is camping.

There’s something about camping. The adventure, the problems you encounter along the way but pull through as a family, and the lack of distractions are probably some of the reasons so many families report camping as a family activity that made them close.

Maybe camping is not your thing. That’s ok. But think about the principle here and how you can use it to make your marriage and someday your family strong and close.

It’s not necessarily how far you go, and how much money you spend. It’s what you do and what happens along the way. What are your thoughts?

Exercise 3: Take a Field Trip

Remember taking field trips in school? Now that was a fun way to learn.

Go to the mall or a restaurant (she says, “That sounds like fun!”) and observe couples.

  • How do couples treat each other? Are they in love? Can you really tell by looking?

This is not meant to judge people that we don’t really know, but is a way of exploring your own notions of marriage.

Your observations and answers will say a lot about your expectations for marriage (for instance, should couples show affection in public?)

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41 comments to Marriage Goals, Expectations and Values

  • Matt Jones & Shelli Johnston

    We have very similar goals, dreams, values, and expectations. If we would win a million dollars, sadly enough that is not that much money anymore, however, we would pay off all debt, buy a home, save, and we would show appreciation to our parents too.

    Family Vacation is easy! Both of us love to be outdoors and by the water.

    Just b/c people show public affection for each other, does not mean they are in love. Most likely lust – it reminds us of teenagers and some really inappropriate adults. However, when couples do show the sweet and simple affections for one another, we can see how a couple truly cares for each other.

  • Andrew and Anna

    We have actually talked about this situation before. Unfortunately, we have a bit of debt from student loans, so we would pay that off first and foremost. We would also put a significant amount of money towards a retirement account so that wouldn’t have to worry as much about that when we get there. Lastly, we would take some money and go on a nice vacation and relax.

    Its tough to observe other people and make assumptions of how they feel. Maybe a couple just got together and is in the honeymoon stage of their relationship. Maybe they had a rough day and its showing through on their expressions. Maybe they are in love but don’t express it in public, even with something simple like holding hands. Couples should know how best to express their love for each other. If its publicly, sometimes that is ok. Other times, it might be better to do so in the privacy of your home.

  • thomas king and rebecca shreeve

    We may not always have the same expectations but we are always accomodating to each other. We take each others feelings and opinions seriously. Even if we do not agree 100% we have each others back. We realize that we are a team working towards one goal, our marriage.

  • Sese Bennett and Heather Horner

    We have spent this time revisiting vacations in our personal and collective past. We both share a common enjoyment of family vacations that are spent building the bond between those spending time together. Being “together” but not engaged is not time well spent.

  • Heather and Alex

    We agree that the first thing we would do with a million dollars is to help our families. Once we take care of our families, we would donate some money to causes that we believe in. (education, cancer and AIDS cures, animals, etc.) Then we have a long list of places that we would like to travel to: South Africa, Galapagos Islands, scuba diving with the Great Whites…

  • K and C

    We discovered that our favorite vacations were not luxurious, but simple and with our families camping or being outdoors.

  • Connie Noward and Barry Thiessen

    My favorite vacation was when we went to Tennessee as a family. We invited some friends and neices to stay in our timeshare with us. When I am on vacation I feel the more the merrier, meaning family and close friends. We can enjoy vacation anywhere even if it’s just for a day as long as we have our family and friends with us.
    Barry’s favorite vacation is when we visit his family in NV.We love being with our family, to us that is what makes a perfect vacation.

  • Michelle and Jeff

    We would do the same things. We would pay off debt, invest, create a solid foundation for our family, and give some to charity and family members. We want to use the money wisely and put some away for a rainy day but Jeff wants “toys” (boats, bikes, guns, etc.) Toys will come after paying off debt, investing for the future, and charity.

    Vacations were the best because they were with family. We had great times and wonderful memories.

    Different couples do different things. Some are all over each other and some ignore each other. Some are preoccupied with kids or other people while some couples are in their own little world. I can’t tell if they are in love. Maybe they had a fight or a tragedy so they aren’t acting like they usually would. You can’t tell if people are in love just by looking at them. People face challenging things daily and the public does not always know. Couples interact differently and have different personalities. We aren’t going to act the same as everyone else and it is not for me to judge other relationships. I don’t know what is going on in their relationship, that’s between them.

  • Michael and Terry

    Fun to talk about having a million dollars. Since we are both pretty simple people, definately get a financial advisor that would help us put the majority of the money in the right places. Of course, payoff debt, put some towards a house and college fund for kids! Then plan a great vacation on a budget! 🙂

  • Joe and Tara

    We agreed (for the most part) about what we would do with the million dollars. It was a lot of fun talking about our family vacations in the past, and even favorite vacations that we’ve taken together!

  • Whitney and Collin

    We definitely agreed on what to do with a million dollars…pay off debt, invest, save, family vacation…all the practical things.

    We look forward to creating our own family vacation memories. We agree that our best family vacation was together…visiting his family in Montana and making a quick stop at Mt. Rushmore.

    We are both people watchers so we always seem to have this discussion about how people interact with each other on all our outings.

  • Tish & Chris

    We came up with the same thing should our long lost millionaire uncle leave us his stash of cash. We would build a reasonable dream home (reasonable to us is probably meager to others, we aren’t into big and flashy). Then we would take care of both our mom’s so they could live peacefully with no bills. Next we would get custody of Chris’ girls and move them in with us. And finally we would look into if we could have our own child (we both have issues that would require medical help to have a child) and look into adopting and then take the steps to expand our family.

  • John and Jessica

    Playing with the idea of having a million dollars was fun. We both agreed that we would want to pay off school loans and buy a new home, John would want to buy himself a new truck and I would love a tropical vacation. Whatever was left would be put into savings for the future.

  • Ashley Harris and Michael Frisbie

    We thought this exercise was really fun, although we haven’d done the third one we did the first two. We were very happy to find that with the million dollar question we would do almost the exact same things. We each thought about the question and then revealed our answers and were happy to find that we would buy a house, help our family and go to Europe! For the vacation question Ashley revealed that Disney World with her family was her favorite vaction and Mike revealed that a camping trip to Yellow Stone National Park with his grandparents and cousins was his favorite trip.

  • Jessica and Andrew

    We notice couples and families being distracted by technology so frequently. Kids and parents sitting at a table each engaged in their own separate activities instead of engaged with each other.

    We have a shared philosophy in our relationship regarding the winning the lottery question. If there is something you would do if you won the lottery that you wouldn’t do now, ask yourself why. We don’t ever want to think that money is stopping us from doing anything we truly want to do in life. The ONLY thing getting in the way is intention. We could pay off debt, buy a house, go on vacation, etc with the life we have now, earning our own money, if we set our minds to it and made it a priority. Being able to do those things because someone gave you a pile of money you didn’t earn is not our idea of a blessing!

  • Katie and John

    We have alot of the same dreams, values, and expectations. If we were to have a million dollars we would buy a home, pay off any type of debt, buy a car, and donate some money to needy children, elder adults, and animal shelters. John and myself have very compassionate hearts. We don’t like to see other indivudals hurting in any way. We go out of our way to help others.

  • Dustin and Katie

    We have both discussed before what we would do if we were left a lot of money. We actually both had the same plan; family, travel, and charity. We both have similar interests, so it is not a surprise that we would spend money the same. Although Dustin would probably have his own of armory of guns and Katie would shop stores out of business! The things we notice about couples is whether they do things together. Some couples have totally different interests while other do everything together. We also notice if the couples talk or look at each other often. Sometimes we see couples just eating in silence at the food court barely looking at each other.

  • Kimberly M. & Jeff L.

    We had very similar answers on each of these questions. With $1M we would pay off any debt (house, car, etc) and invest the rest of the money and use it as needed for travel or new vehicles. Both of our family vacations included going to a national park (both had some sort of stay at Yellowstone). We agree that it doesn’t really where you but who you are with. Also want to make sure that we get some relaxation and some fun activity or sight seeing.

  • Tammy and Duke

    Duke and I have talked a lot before about what we’d do if we were to win the lottery. First, we’d give 10% to the church we go to, then invest in our kids future, and ours as well, so that we could both have a way to expand on our true desire to help others.

    Vacation time is always important. Getting away and just relaxing, not doing a whole lot and finding some peace and quiet is what we both like to do.

    I have never had a problem with PDA, and,fortunately Duke is ok with that. 🙂 I hope that we are both in that same kind of love and affection when we are in our 70’s.

  • Lindsey and Rhett

    Rhett and Lindsey have previously discussed what they would do with an extra million dollars (even though this is unlikely, it is fun to think about!) We agree that we would pay off debt, including student loans and our mortgage and put some money into savings. In addition, Rhett would like to get a golf membership and Lindsey would like a European vacation.

    Our favorite family vacations have a two things in common: time away from work and spending time with the ones we love. It doesn’t matter where you go or how much money you spend, as long as you are spending quality time with the ones you love is all that matters!

    Rhett and Lindsey are on the same PDA page. PDA does not mean the couple has more love for one another but simple displays such as holding hands are nice, whether you are in public or private. Whatever you and your partner are comfortable with is the most important.

  • Kelly and Larry

    Million Dollars: We both agreed we would pay off our house, and car. We would donate money and set money aside for retirement. We would take a vacation to Italy because his family is Italian, and we would love to visit there eventually.

  • Mary Ann and Christoper Griffiths

    We decided we would spend a million dollars differently. I’d pay off debts and he would take a vacation. We did both agree on investing a lot of it for the future.

    Christopher is into public affection all the time which is sweet. He makes sure it is known he is proud to be with me which is awesome. My family was never very affectionate in public so I never am. It’s not because I don’t want to be, I just don’t think about it. We do not think PDA is a bad thing.

  • IF we were left a million dollars we would pay everything off like house cars ect…after that we decided that instead of just blowing we would put it into savings that way if something were to come up we would not be in a bind. Also we would set up a trust fund for our future children for college.

    We had a lot of fun talking about our favorite vacations. We both learned that we are thrill seekers and doesn’t care to get dirty but then likes to relax at the same time.

  • Maggie and Jason

    The first exercise told us a lot about our common goals. We completely agreed with how we would spend our million dollars, which is comforting. I’ve always heard that money is the number one thing that married couples argue about and it’s good to know we are on the same page about finances.

  • John and Meg

    We did the field trip exercise, though we observed couples when we took his kids to an amusement park for the day. We both found that the couples that seemed newer were all lovey-dovey and very PDA. The longer-term couples, especially those that had kids, were much more independent of each other. We both want to keep up the affection, the hand-holding, etc as our relationship ages. We both value that part of our relationship, more than either of us realized the other did. This was a really interesting exercise, watching throughout the day, and the discussion afterwards was very helpful.

  • Dawn and Mike

    We both agreed on what we would do with the new found million dollars. This showed our common and deeply rooted values and our balanced approach to planning and yet enjoying life.

  • Raychel and Peter

    We recieved a million dollars!!!
    Here’s what we’d each do.

    Raychel, “If we were left a million dollars, I’d have to say I’d like to be practical about what I’d use it for. First I’d of course pay off those pesky student loans and help my parents with their medical bills and other burdensome financial obligations. I would also like to donate a large portion to animal rescue missions. Then whatever was left I’d split between savings and treating our selves to something nice like a great vacation or new car/home.”

    Peter, “With a million dollars, I would invest some of they money in a nicer home. Then, I would put some into savings which seems to be a smart choice. Otherwise, what I think I would like to do would be able to spend a little more money in our every day lives buying nicer things for ourselves and taking nicer vacations. Essentially upgrading our lifestyle.”

    We both can see that we are fairly practical when it comes to finances. Perhaps one of the reasons being our constant need to watch our budgets simply to be able to see each other.

  • D & S

    We spent the million in the exact same way. Favorite family vacations revolved around family, esp. children and the ocean. As far as showing affection in public, we agreed that hand holding appropriate, but he didn’t think putting is arm around me was always appropriate. Found out that apparently I am a public hugger and he is not.

  • D & S

    We agreed on what we would do with a million dollars. Both of us talked about family vacations with the children and visiting the ocean. As far as affection in public, we agreed hand holding was appropriate. He didn’t always feel comfortable putting his arm around me in public. Discovered that I was a public hugger and he is not.

  • Brooke & Lucas

    We both completely agree on what we would do with a million dollars. Since buying a house and raising a family are both things that are important to us, that’s exactly what we would use the money on.

    It’s hard to judge other people’s relationships just by seeing them at a restaurant. Everyone may showcase their love differently, but it’s important that couples love one another in a way that works for them. However, we both agree that a couple that is overly into PDA may be making up for another area that is lacking attention in their relationship (ex: do not have that much in common, afraid the person will leave them).

  • Richard and Sarah

    We opted to for Exercise 1. We learned we both had very similar goals and dreams. If we were to inherit a million dollars from a favorite uncle, we both listed saving/investing majority of the money. The rest we both listed securing our family’s future through children’s education funds, retirement funds, and household living (if needed). Not to mention, we both listed traveling and family vacations.

  • Amanda & Nate

    Million Dollars: Amanda and I had essentially identical answers for what we’d do with a windfall of money. We would immediately wipe out all of our debts. We would invest in a modest home and vehicles (ours are less than reliable these days!). Next, we would do the same for our families to make sure they are debt free. We would donate a portion to church or charity, and invest the rest in a conservative investment. We are both very frugal and conservative with our money, and hope that having lots of it wouldn’t change that mentality!

    Favorite Vacation: Once again, we were in immediate agreement on our favorite vacation. Although we’ve been to many wonderful, fun and beautiful places, our very first trip to Nashville (we live in Ohio) was more exciting than we could ever have imagined! We’ve been there many, many times since, but seeing the neon and music of lower Broadway, the beautiful gardens of the Opryland Hotel, and just being away from home with each other for our first ever vacation together was so wonderful and memorable! We’re so thankful that we will be getting married in our favorite place on earth!

    Field Trip: One thing we’ve noticed is that although teenagers and college aged kids often exhibit lots of affection in public, most adults do not. Granted, extreme PDA would be inappropriate in public for adults, but we absolutely love when we see older couples who haven’t lost the love: holding hands while walking through the mall, saying “I love you” sincerely at the end of a cell-phone call, holding the car or a store door open for each other, etc. We both love these simple but powerful romantic gestures – it gives you hope that a strong feeling of love and mutual affection never has to fade with time.

  • Alan and Alyse

    We have many similar core values, as we would both put most of our “inheritance” in savings and then pay off debt. We also love being active and seeing new things in vacations, but family closeness was an overarching theme in my fondest vacation memories.

  • Rachel and Aaron

    When it comes to showing affection in public between couples, there are a few different kinds of affection. We see couples very open about their affection for one another, touching each other whenever they can and laughing a lot about really silly things, couples that hold hands and make inside jokes between themselves and are usually quieter about their affection but you still know it’s there, and finally couples that usually don’t seem very affectionate at all. The thing about it is, is there are many different types of people and types of affection and showing ones love for another. Perhaps this is the first night a couple has been out in awhile and they finally have a night away from their children, and they feel very giddy about touching each other and generally focusing on having a good time with one another. They feel young again and they resemble that young feeling they once had when it was just the two of them. Consider perhaps, the said couple goes out regularly with each other and they have found a comfortable routine in which they can hang out together and still show that young love they started out with but in a quieter way than the first couple. That doesn’t mean they are less affectionate or any less of a affectionate couple. Lastly, perhaps the couple that doesn’t seem like much of a couple to anyone else enjoys being at home on the sofa with their beloved and simply being there. They don’t enjoy being around crowds or openly displaying strong affection in public because they feel their love is sacred and only for them. There is nothing wrong with any of these couples. What matters is the love. Is it there? Can you notice it between two people never even knowing their backgrounds with one another? Do they notice it? If they do, then they probably have a love only between them.

  • Aleah & Brandon

    We would love a million dollars! We would invest in our future together, including a forever home, college funds for our future children, etc. We enjoyed family vacations growing up where there was a lot of family time involved, playing games and connecting with our siblings.

    We think it’s really obvious when couples are in love just by watching. A couple who one or both are constantly on their cell phone during a date is a really bad sign. Couples in love hold hands and look into each others eyes, maybe even sharing food!

  • Aaron & Chelsey

    In regards to the million dollar uncle, we both agreed that we’d get out of debt, buy a humble little farm, get some new-used vehicles without any mechanical issues, then invest for the future. This was the easier question to answer because we’ve had this conversation several times before. Typically the million dollar uncle is a 100 million dollar lottery ticket, but our answers are typically the same, except our lottery plan includes a small villa on St. John that we rent out as an Air BNB while we are stateside. Although the lottery plan includes a tropical getaway, our intentions of becoming financially secure don’t change. We use a lot of this reasoning with our current finances.

    I actually learned a lot about Aaron discussing family vacations. I remember going on several fun family vacations growing up, even though we did not necessarily have the means to do so. My parents did an amazing job of giving us the opportunities to build memories. I fondly recall these memories and the time we spent together. On the other hand, Aaron could not name a single family vacation that he enjoyed. Coming from a close family, it always surprises me that his family is not the closest. However, knowing this helps me to understand his family dynamic and be sensitive to his feelings in regards to family events. Luckily he also understands my family dynamic and adapts to our situations.

    We both agreed that sometimes it feels weird noticing other couples. We both find excessive PDA to be a bit much, but think quaint flirting can be cute. In regards to our relationship, we have our own ways of showing affection in public, typically teasing and making fun of each other, but every now and then we will hold hands. We both seem to understand the level of public intimacy each other enjoys and we respect the boundaries (for the most part. I push the limit every now and then, but he takes it in stride).

  • Tony & Tierra

    We have a few of the same goals if given a $1M. We both want to cover all debt and invest in the future of ourselves & our son both financially and educationally. Tierra is very interested in investing and finances to hopefully retire early. That makes since with her accounting aspirations, whereas I want to travel more since I haven’t been many places as an adult.

    Our favorite vacation was a cruise we took last fall and surprisingly for the same reasons. We were out in the middle of nowhere without cell service and just talking to each other…bonding without distraction.

  • Katie & John

    We really enjoyed sharing our favorite vacations, from both childhood and vacations we have stayed together. Luckily John and I both enjoy being active on vacations and look forward to a life of exploring together!

  • Caroline & Sam

    Money: Sam would invest it, Caroline would buy a new car.

    Favorite Vacation: Sam- Destin, FL- It is his annual family trip; Caroline- Europe: it was a once in a lifetime trip with her family

    Couple Watching: We think you can tell when people love each other just by the way they treat other but there is always things below the surface that the public does not know.

  • Jake and Maelee

    We agreed on how to use the money. First, we would tithe 10%, another 10% to charities, and then paying off debt. Whatever is left we would invest, with the exception for a small amount of fun money/trip money.
    Our favorite vacations have been together, and that’s obviously the goal of a vacation. But we both like going to places where we can be active and walk almost anywhere. Also places with historical buildings have a draw for us. No matter where it is, we want to experience the food, beer, and wine locally.

  • Bethany and Jesse

    Our million dollar question varied a little, but we were similar in that we would want to pay off debt first before anything. We’ve discussed dream vacations before. They are a little different destination wise, but Jesse and I both want to go places we’ve never been before. We both want to experience new things together. As far as watching other couples, we didn’t specifically go out and do this due to COVID-19, but we’ve done this before. We notice other couples a lot in restaurants. They will not be talking to each other and be just lost in their phones. Jesse and I are able to notice that because we aren’t on our phones. Dinner time at home or in a restaurant we like to stay off our phones so we can enjoy each other’s company and not worry about distractions.

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