If I had to pick one word to describe how I want to approach my marriage, it would be intentional.
In fact, it’s probably the best word I can find to describe the attitude with which we should all approach our marriages.
On a whim, I decided to look up the definition of the word. It’s an action word that means to do something deliberately, consciously, or on purpose. If it was intentional, it didn’t happen accidentally. Someone planned for it to happen and stuck with it until it did.
In the context of our marriages, it means that we are involved in and actively working to make our marriages the best they can be. It also means that we are not just standing on the sidelines hoping for the best. We have a plan and a vision for our marriage, and are determined to see it come to pass.
So…. Are you being intentional about your marriage? Do you and your spouse have a plan for your marriage which you are actively pursuing, or are you just going where the wind blows you with no real direction or purpose for your marriage. Having been there and done that, my wife and I can tell you from personal experience that an approach like that will not work well for long. Or at least it didn’t work for us.
How can I be intentional in my marriage?
Being intentional in your marriage means being proactive and working on your marriage each and every day. It involves taking responsibility for your actions and the effect they have on your marriage, and also making adjustments when things start to get off track.
Below are 5 keys that I believe are important if we desire to be intentional about our marriage.
1. Make your spouse a priority. When we said “I do”, our spouse was the most important person in our life. But over the years the pressures of life crept in and slowly overwhelmed us, dropping them from that exhausted position of importance to just another line on our to-do list. Over time this demotion can cause anger and resentment for the spouse that feels they have been ignored or kicked to the curb. Avoid this by making your spouse a high priority in your life and not making them take a back seat to your career, or even your children.
2. Date your spouse and spend ample quality time together. It was because of dating that we initially fell in love with our spouse. The time we spent together doing things we mutually enjoyed helped create the intimacy that eventually found us saying “I do” to each other. But sadly, after marriage most of us stopped dating our spouses and we rarely spend quality alone time together to connect like we did when we were dating. While we can all try to blame this on the fast pace of the lives we lead, the main issue is that few of us actually make dating our spouse and spending quality time with them a priority like we did when we were dating.
If this describes you and your spouse or you can’t remember the last evening you spent alone with them, take the time to do something about it. Commit today to taking time out of your busy schedule to bring dating back into your relationship, and to daily set aside one on one quality time for the two of you to reconnect and strengthen your relationship. Just 10-20 minutes of undisturbed quality time each day and a date night every other week will make a world of difference in your marriage.
3. Don’t underestimate the importance of sexual intimacy. Sexual intimacy in marriage is important to building a happy and healthy marriage. Unfortunately, one of the first casualties of our fast paced marriages is usually the loss of sexual intimacy in the marriage. The hectic pace of life can often cause one or both spouses to be too tired for sex, or feel that there just isn’t enough time for it due to schedules with work or children. To combat this and keep passion alive in the marriage, we must learn to make sexual intimacy with our spouse a priority, even scheduling time for it if necessary.
4. Build margin into your life. A margin is a blank space left on a piece of paper. Likewise the margin in our life is the space we leave blank in our lives to make way for rest and relaxation, time spent with our spouse and children, hobbies, etc. When we try to live our life with little or no margin, stress, frustration, and marital issues are usually the inevitable result. But when we work to build ample margin into our life at work, at home, and in our marriage, we find that we have more free time to relax, enjoy life and the time spent with our spouse, as well as having significantly lower levels of stress.
5. Love your spouse in their love language. Our love language is the way we receive and naturally express emotional love. If we want our spouse to feel the love we are showing them, we must discover our spouses primary love language and learn how to show them love accordingly. From personal experience I can tell you that getting this right can make a huge difference in your marriage.
The five love languages are:
Words of Affirmation
Acts of Service
For more information on the Five Love Languages and to take a test to find out what your love language is, go to www.5lovelanguages.com
What my next step?
I challenge you to make the time to discuss them with your spouse to see which of these areas are in need of improvement in your marriage, and what you can do individually, and as a couple to move toward a more intentional and lasting marriage.
Your marriage and your spouse will thank you.
Re’ Schlitt is a husband of 22 years and a father to two wonderful children. He is a Certified Christian Life Coach as well as being the voice of I Heart my Marriage, a marriage blog devoted to helping couples take their marriages to the next level. When not working Re’ can usually be found with his wife Cheryl relaxing at a campsite.