Step 2 – Be Intentional
We saw in Step 1 that it is important to realize that marriages will erode if they are not focused on and maintained. In this step, we look at the importance of being intentional in a marriage and not letting the relationship slip into auto-pilot mode.
Take a look at your calendar. In a given week, you probably see time blocked out for Dr. appointments, business meetings, children’s sporting practice, piano lessons and volunteer commitments. In our culture, it is rare to have a day or an evening that is not fully booked several days (for some weeks) in advance. It is great to be organized, it prevents us from falling into stress-induced chaos. But our calendars ultimately show our priorities. How many items are on your calendar are specific to your spouse?
Many say “I couldn’t possibly reschedule the events I have this week – they are all critical”. That could be true, but there are exceptions. My father recently passed away. Within a few days of his passing, all four of his sons and most of his grandchildren were able to travel from all over the country to attend his funeral. I’m sure that each person there had a full calendar before his demise, but they were able to shift things around to make arrangements to be present. That’s because his funeral was a higher priority than the other events they had scheduled. So it’s apparent that we do have some flexibility in terms of our schedules, it’s just a matter of what we deem critical.
Scripture tells us that our most important relationship is with God, and our second most important is with our spouse. While many of us will put church events on the calendar, it does seem that #2 gets shorted in terms of scheduling time. It’s as if we’re saying that marriage happens in the non-scheduled gaps of time. The problem is for many of us, we have few if any such gaps.
So what does it look like to be intentional? This will vary from couple to couple, but in any case it requires setting time aside to do something with your spouse. Take date night for example. You may wait until you have a Friday night with nothing else scheduled to go out. The reality is, by waiting until the last minute your baby sitter may not be available, or the restaurant you’ve been dying to go to has no reservations available that evening. Giving date night the same (or greater) importance as other events in your life will prevent that from occurring.
Spontaneity is a great thing. In my marriage the things we decide to do on the spur of the moment are often times the most fun and memorable. We take advantage of that whenever possible. But these moments should be enjoyed in addition to scheduled time, not instead of. If growing your relationship is dependent of unexpected free time, you’re in trouble.
I’ve blogged about this before, but one simple thing that we did when our kids were young was to schedule something we called “martini Mondays”. Because our weekends were often so full with family and church activities we often struggled to find time alone where we could just be together to talk, plan and dream. So we chose Mondays, a day that otherwise could be somewhat miserable, to set aside an hour once I got home from work. We would enjoy a drink together (sometimes a martini, sometimes iced tea – we were beverage agnostic) and talk for an hour. The kids were home, but they came to respect that hour as “sacred’ mommy and daddy time and knew not to disturb us unless there was a true emergency. What was otherwise a rough day of the week became our very favorite because of this intentional time. An unexpected benefit of this was that we were modeling behavior for our children that we now see in them now that they have kids of their own.
Your marriage is the most important relationship you have with another human. Be intentional. Set aside time to make sure you are growing it and not just allowing it to erode. Your spouse deserves some calendar time…