Getting to "I do" isn't enough, your marriage needs a mission!
As a now retired corporate veteran of several Fortune 500 companies, I’m well schooled in the reliance on a solid corporate mission statement – something that embodies what the company stands for. In fact, the companies that I support the most, that I’m most loyal to and that I find myself most often praising, have, in my opinion, the most well-thought out, meaningful mission statements. Take for example, one of my all time favorite brands: Ben & Jerry’s.
Ben & Jerry’s is a company that began with 2 guys: you guessed it, Ben & Jerry. They took a $5 ice cream making class back in 1963 and fell in love with the fun of making ice cream. When they perfected their craft they opened up shop in Burlington and became an instant success in the college town that before they invaded, were ice cream parlorless. Always sticking to their mission of inventive flavors, a family corporate culture, philanthropic ideals (long before it was in vogue to do so) and an environment (in packaged pint or in parlor) that makes customers joyful is what has made Ben & Jerry’s the success that it is today, nearly 50 years later. And yes, Ben & Jerry to this day, remain one happy couple, which is very unique in the corporate world.
So what does this have to do with marriage? Well, if you want to reach your Gold Anniversary, like B&J are about to, or even something close to that, you need to have a solid and binding mission. You and your spouse, like Ben & Jerry, need to be on the same page, following the same roadmap. Don’t worry, it is easier than you think. You just need to create a marriage mission statement and you can start by following these basic tenets:
1. Just like any good business plan, your mission statement should be adaptable. While much of it will likely remain for the tenure of your marriage, you and your partner should both remain open to revising it. This will make it easier to create knowing that nothing is set in stone.
2. Work together on this mission statement. This should not be two individual processes smashed together. This is a unity project. This may take many revisions to get it to a place where you both are overjoyed with it. Don’t rush this process and have fun with it!
3. Focus on the big picture here. This is not an exercise in role definition (who takes out the trash and who cleans the toilets). Instead, this is about the philosophy of your marriage; it’s about clarifying your marriage’s purpose and priorities.
4. When completed, commit the mission statement to memory. This statement should be integrated into every way you live your marriage. This is helpful for the up times as it will be a reminder that you are carrying out what you all committed to and a great reminder when the going gets tough, for how to stay on course. You can even print it on pretty paper and frame it!
Your mission statement should stay simple and focused. A good mission statement is not lengthy; 5-8 sentences should do the job. This guideline of ingredients can help you:
1. Determine what your marriage strengths are. What is it about your bond that makes you two uniquely fit for each other and uniquely strong? What is it about your marriage that will carry you through?
2. Determine what you want your marriage to be. Thinking forward, what do you seek in your marriage? What 5, 10 and beyond years from now will you be proud of if you have done or become?
3. Determine what you want your marriage to do. This part focuses on the purpose of your marriage. How do you want your marriage to impact each other, your family, your community, the world?
4. Identify the values and principles for your marriage. What does your marriage stand for? What doesn’t it stand for? What separates right from wrong to you?
Creating your mission statement is an incredibly powerful and beautiful experience between a couple. It goes beyond your altar vows and really solidifies the union between the two of you. Remember, it is a road map, one that can, and should be revised as time goes on and life for you two evolves. Enjoy the process of creating it as you will undoubtedly have the opportunity to get to know each other better as you build this foundation of your love.
Live and love largely,