Intentional is quite the buzzword lately. Be an intentional person. Have an intentional marriage. Live intentionally. We hear every day how we should be intentional every day to make the most out of life.
But what does that really mean?
Being married on purpose
Being intentional is not a difficult concept. Basically, it means doing things on purpose. Not letting your life just happen, but making an effort to steer it in a direction that will give you fulfillment and happiness.
Being intentional in your marriage means the same thing. Be married…on purpose!
Marriage can be like a boat. If you are in a boat in the middle of the ocean, you can either let the current direct it or grab a pair of oars and start paddling!
Creating an intentional marriage is not something you should wait to do until the boat has sprung a leak, or the sharks are swimming around you, licking their lips. Every marriage will benefit from this mindset of decisiveness!
How do you start paddling your marriage? How do you begin being married on purpose? It’s simple. You take responsibility for yourself first and focus a massive part of that responsibility on your marriage.
When you wake up in the morning, ask yourself what you can do today to make your marriage better instead of complaining about its condition. Make the deliberate choice that you are going to love your spouse today, even when they might not deserve it.
Fight for your marriage even if no one else, including your spouse, is. Being intentional in your marriage means that you deliberately, determinedly, and carefully continue in love, even on those days when it’s the last thing you want to do.
As much as I believe in prayer, you are not going to make any significant changes in your relationship if you just pray, get up, and proceed to do the same things you were doing before you hit your knees.
Do you need to be more intentional?
Does your marriage need you to be intentional? Every marriage does, but some may need it more than others. Take a look at some of these cues:
What is the atmosphere of your marriage? What is the emotional undertone running through your relationship? Is it easy and comfortable, or is it guarded with the both of you thinking twice before you say anything that your spouse could take wrong?
If you’re walking on eggshells, it’s time to get intentional.
Look at the choices that you are making daily in your interactions with your spouse? Are you saying and doing what you thought you would be doing and saying when you first got married? I doubt you expected to be yelling, demanding, giving the silent treatment, or withholding sex all these years later.
Every choice you make, not just the huge ones, makes a difference. Whenever you criticize your spouse or lie to them or use a harsh tone, you add to the cold atmosphere. If you are making destructive choices each day, you need to get intentional.
What beliefs do you have about your marriage? What do you tell yourself about it each day? If you see it as fulfilling, secure, and loving, your actions will bear that out, and you will have a better outcome for your relationship. But if you see it as hopeless, one-sided, and draining, your actions will make it more and more that way every day.
The way you think about your relationship makes all the difference. If you have that gloom-ridden mindset, it’s time to get intentional about making changes. Your marriage may depend on it.
How to have a more intentional marriage?
Are you ready to be more intentional? I’m not going to lie. It won’t be easy. You cannot just wake up one day and say, “Wow, I will be totally intentional today, and my marriage will be better by sundown.” But the small things you start today will make a difference.
Learning to be intentional is like exercising. You don’t lose 20 pounds by going to the gym twice. You have to do it over and over to build up a stockpile before you see a difference. It takes forming new habits, and it requires messing up sometimes and figuring out how to be better.
Being intentional means focusing your attention on new things while letting go of the things holding your marriage back from exponential growth. Here are a few things to give up and what to grab hold of to get you started.
Give up grudges for forgiveness.
I can’t stress this enough. Without forgiveness, your marriage will not survive. It does you absolutely no good to stew over things that happened last year or last week.
Instead, forgive them, even if you don’t want to, and move on like you have. If you think of the situation as resolved and forgiven, you will begin to feel that way, too. It means you have to remind yourself to do it each day. Forgive on purpose.
“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:18-19
Give up callousness for kindness.
Do you find yourself saying pretty much whatever comes into your head with your spouse, no matter how it sounds? If you are being harsh and speaking to them with no compassion, you are pulling blocks out of the foundation of your marriage, and soon, like a Jenga tower, the collapse will come.
A better way is to listen to the words that come out of your mouth and choose to say different things. Instead of nagging and being a martyr because of something they are not doing, recognize the things they do that you appreciate. Change how you talk to them. Say kind things on purpose.
Take control of what I say, O LORD, and guard my lips. Psalm 141:3
Give up knee-jerk reactions for active listening.
Often, we all hear something our spouse says and take it completely the wrong way. And when we do, we jump to conclusions and say things to make the situation worse. Knee-jerk reactions shut down communication. Who wants to talk if they are afraid their spouse will react angrily and have a meltdown?
Teach yourself to stop and think before you speak. You don’t just run across a busy city street because you want to get somewhere on the other side, and jumping and saying things you think you need to say without checking to make sure it’s really appropriate to the situation can have the same disastrous results. Listen carefully on purpose.
A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion. Proverbs 18:2
Give up worldly successes for marriage successes.
Where do you want to be in five years? Most people may think about their jobs when they hear this question, but take a minute and answer it in terms of your marriage. Once you know what you’d like your marriage to be like in the future, ask yourself if you are on track to get there. Are the things you’re doing today making that future possible?
People usually make goals at the beginning of something. At the beginning of the year, we make New Year’s Resolutions. At the beginning of a quarter, businesses make revenue goals for the next 90 days. Consider today a new start for your marriage and work toward those goals on purpose.
The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty. Proverbs 21:5
Give up over-scheduling for quality time
In today’s world, people are way too worried about being successful in the world. We want possessions or prestige that only pull us away from the priorities we should have. The time we give to your other pursuits has to come from somewhere, and unfortunately, it ends up coming from the time you could have spent reconnecting with your spouse.
So, be careful how much you say yes to. The world has plenty of worthwhile causes, and your kids can be involved in all kinds of character-building activities, but you can’t do it all. Learn to say no to yourself and your kids if you know that committing to it will make time for your marriage scarce. Dedicate time to your spouse on purpose.
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5:15-17
Striving for an intentional marriage means doing the work. It won’t just happen, but there is one thing that will make it easier. If you allow the Holy Spirit to work in you and you invite Jesus to be part of the process, you have a much better chance of success than someone who doesn’t.
God wants you to stand out in the world. He wants your marriage to be a light to the world and a way of feeling His love on earth. It starts with a change in the way you think. A better way of thinking starts a domino effect that results in positive outcomes for your life, and specifically, your marriage.
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2
So if you believe in God’s power, get on your knees and pray and then get up and take action!
For more ideas on how your thought life may be holding your marriage back, read How to Defeat Limiting Beliefs that Can Destroy Your Marriage.
We are passionate about helping couples like you get intentional and create mindsets and habits that will give your marriage a fresh start. You can succeed at marriage and we can help.
Get started by scheduling a free 30-minute marriage assessment call. We’ll work personally with you over video call and give you new perspective and some tips to get started! We offer these every Thursday evening (Eastern Time), but we can work with you to schedule another time if needed. Don’t waste time. Click here to apply for one today: Marriage Assessment Call