5 Ways to an intentional marriage
done on purpose; deliberate
Marriage is hard, and when life is passing us by at warp speed it is easy to switch on autopilot and phone it in with your partner. As easy as it is to switch on autopilot, times like these are when being intentional with your partner is most important. In the context of marriage, being intentional means you are proactively fighting for your partner. You are letting them know that your marriage is worth the extra step.
And trust me, I know that slowing down is hard. Last year I was running this business, working fulltime and in graduate school! I still get tired just thinking about it. I have been there! Having been there, I have learned the hard way, that it is in our busiest seasons of life, when it is most important to be intentional, because ultimately marriage is only as strong as we build it up to be.
To make being intentional a little easier, here are 5 tips to help you bring intention into your marriage:
Date your spouse
Okay, I know this is probably one of the most over used tips married couples get; however, this tip is doled out so frequently because it really is imperative to marriage. Be intentional when planning out your week and set-aside time for just the two of you. No elaborate dinners or move nights needed. All you need is the two of you with no distractions, no phones, and no talking about life’s stressors. Use this time each week to reconnect and build each other up.
Don’t be in emotional debt to your spouse
When the world overwhelms us, it is easy to think our problems are greater than anyone else’s; however, it is important that we pick up the burdens of those we share our problems with as well. Just as Christ picked up the cross to show his unwavering love for us, we should also pick up and share the emotional weight of worldly problems in order to show our partners love. And if your partner is quite like Greg, it may take you prodding a few times, but it is worth it. A marriage where one partner is continuously in emotional debt to the other, without ever asking them to share their woes can lead to greater issues and resentment.
Think before you speak
Thinking before you speak may be age-old advice for everyone, but it especially important in marriage. It can also be hard, especially in the heat of the moment, to think before we speak. And sometimes all you want to do is yell profanities at the other person. In marriage, we typically know each other’s weakest spots, making it especially important to think before we deal out low blows in a fight. Being intentional in our words in order to think before we speak allows us to fight with our spouse not against them.
Fights will happen; even in the healthiest of marriages fights happen. However, the true health of a marriage is how we handle those fights and the aftermath of them. If you spend an hour yelling at each other and tearing each other down, those words will stick and begin to grow in your partner’s mind, which illustrates the importance of fighting fair with your partner. It is important to remember that once we are married, we become a team, and there are no winders or losers after a row. Marriage is hard enough; we don’t need to add to the difficulty.
Understand your spouse
You are not going to understand your spouse overnight. Hell, Greg and I have been together almost 11 years and I am still learning new things about him! However, it is important to be intentional in learning how your spouse loves—specifically their love language. Personally, I think words of affirmation are sweet and I would never turn down a surprise carnation from Greg; however, my true love language is action. Nothing shows me he loves me more than when he takes a burden away from me. Each morning before work Greg would wash the bottles Makenna used overnight so I had fresh ones in the morning—this meant more to me than any bouquet of flowers ever would.
Understanding your partners love language can help you show greater affection and it also tells them that you took the time to be intentional in how you are showing love. I highly encourage you and your partner to take the Love Language quiz HERE. Share your results and then share a few ways your partner can fulfill this role. After all, none of us are mind readers and the best way for your partner to understand you, is if you share.
Recognize your spouse
Everyday your partner probably does something for you that you have come to take for granted. In the thick of daily life it is easy to take the everyday actions for granted. Does your wife pack your lunch everyday? Thank her. Have you not been to a gas station in years because your husband always fills up your tank? Thank him. Take time to recognize their commitment to you through this action and thank them. When you recognize your partner you are validating their actions and showing their efforts are not going unnoticed. It may be hard to see the everyday things your spouse does, which is why it takes intentions, but when you truly look at their actions in relation to you, you may be presently surprised.
Marriages don’t fail overnight they erode overtime. The best way to prevent the erosion is to protect your marriage with every tool you have—and intention is one of the most powerful in your toolbox. I challenge you this week to be intentional in your actions with your partner. Plan a date night, thank them, or recognize their action, you may be pleasantly surprised to see just how much being intentional can improve your marriage.