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  • Oct 24 / 2015
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An Intentional Marriage

 

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
  • Receiving Gifts
  • Quality Time
  • Physical Touch

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

So now you have 5 keys to building an intentional marriage. 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 towards a more intentional and lasting marriage.

 

Your marriage and your spouse will thank you.

  • Oct 20 / 2015
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I Love You

I Love You. No three words in the English language are remotely as powerful. They not only do they have the power to start a whirl wind romance at the drop of a hat, but over time the lack of these words can also tear a relationship apart. But given that the majority of communication is non-verbal, these three words are far from the only way at our disposal to tell our spouse of our undying love for them.

Below are 15 extremely easy ways to tell your spouse “I Love You,” without ever moving your lips. I recommend that you use them frequently in your marriage for best results.

1: Leave a note or card for your spouse anywhere they will be sure to find it.

2: Short calls, texts, or even emails during the day to let them know you’re thinking about them.

3: Take your spouse’s car to get washed and fill it up with gas for them.

4: (Husbands) Have dinner ready for her when she gets home.

5: (Husbands) Do chores around the house that she normally does.

6: (Husbands) Take the children out with you for the evening to give her some “me” time.

7: Give her a body massage with no expectation of sex.

8: Cuddle on the couch and let your spouse pick what show to watch on TV.

9: Completely plan a date night, including child care if necessary.

10: Turn on a favorite slow song and ask her to dance with you in the living room.

11: (Wives) Surprise him with mind blowing sex.

12: Hold your spouse’s hand when you’re out in public.

13: Introduce your spouse to someone with a compliment.

14: (Husbands) LISTEN to your wife, engage her in conversation and be genuinely interested in what she has to say.

15: Respect your spouse’s opinion when you disagree on something.

When looking for ways to convey your love to your spouse, I recommend that you be aware of your spouse’s love language so that you can choose acts of love that resonate with them and make them feel special. If you don’t know your spouse’s Love Language, I recommend reading about the 5 Love Languages HERE.
 

  • Oct 12 / 2015
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Stop Trying in Your Marriage

 

Before you start thinking that I’ve lost my mind and suddenly started advocating that we all leave our spouses and give up on our marriages, let me explain where I’m going with the title of this post. 

When my marriage almost dissolved in late 2013, it caused me to reexamine everything I thought was true about myself, my wife, and my marriage of over 20 years. During the many discussions my wife and I had during the restoration of or marriage, God brought to my attention a single word that I was using in nearly every conversation with my wife. A word that while it promised everything, ultimately committed me to nothing. That word was the word “try.”

At first glance, the word try seems full of promise and change, a statement such as “I will try to love my spouse more selflessly” looks like a promise to do better. The problem is, the word “try” leaves us an easy out, or a convenient back door should we decide to use it.  It’s also a readymade excuse for not accomplishing what set out to accomplish in the first place. 

Instead we must work to eliminate the word “try” from our vocabulary and commit to replacing it with the word “do”, changing the above statement to “I will do whatever it takes to selflessly love my spouse.” 

If you were the spouse that heard both these statements, which would make you feel better? While both signify an intent to change, only one says that I am all in, and will except nothing less than achieving the goal of becoming more selfless in the way I love my spouse. It represents a commitment to succeed at all costs. The first statement; not so much. 

The shift from trying to doing

The change from trying to doing is much more than simply exchanging a word in a sentence. It represents a state of mind that is present at the time you set goals in your life and in your marriage. It’s a 100% commitment to a goal that will inspire and create confidence in yourself and often those around you. And though success is never guaranteed, it’s much more likely because the commitment you’ve made to stick it out causes you to get creative and seek alternatives to quitting when the going gets tough. 

As an added bonus, when you go all in and fully commit to achieving the goals you’ve set for your marriage. Without saying a word, you will often inspire your spouse to do the same. 

What to do:

1: State your goal clearly. Create a statement that defines your goal that uses terms like “whatever it takes”, “no matter”, or “until I see a change.”

Make the goals about you and NOT about your spouse. It goes without saying that the only person that we can change is our self, so it only makes sense to set goals for ourselves and not our spouse. Even goals for your relationship should be directed toward your part of the outcome. 

2: Clearly define the desired results and make a plan. Often life and especially relationship goals can be tricky to define. Goals like better communication, more or better intimacy, or less selfishness are wonderful goals, but they lack clarity and probably won’t lead you to the necessary steps you must take to accomplish your goals. 

To make sure you accomplish your goals. Take the time to write out a clear definition of your goals, going into detail as to what it would look like when you have accomplished your goals and the results you expect to see from it.  Ensure that you include results that are specific and can be measured. Remember to focus on your part of achieving the goal and to avoid putting expectations on your spouse. 

3: Pray about it. It’s a fact that prayer changes things. Regular prayer on behalf of your marriage toward meeting your goals helps you know that you are not alone in your pursuit of a better marriage. It’s important to realize that God is on the side of you and your marriage. 

4: Take daily action. Never miss an opportunity to take a step toward meeting your goal. Small action steps, taken consistently will get you where you want to be faster and more reliably than large steps taken occasionally. While large steps and even leaps do happen, they are rarely taken deliberately and usually occur when you are faithfully taking small steps toward your stated goal. 

While you’re deciding what you’re going to focus your attention on “doing” in your marriage, I’ll leave you with my favorite Star Wars quote from Master Yoda.