Have you ever wondered what would happen if a couple spent as much time, money, and effort in working on their marriage as they did on their wedding? I remember first asking myself that question when a young couple we knew separated and divorced two years into the marriage. I remembered how beautiful their wedding had been. Every detail had been perfect, and the stress levels in the two families were high as everything had to come off as planned.
“But what about the marriage?” I thought. Did they even do pre-marital counseling? (They didn’t.) I remember wishing they would have made an appointment with me before divorcing so I could ask them some of my questions, but they didn’t. My guess is they looked at the marriage and assumed it would just happen. After all, they were “in love.”
We looked at a description of the intentional family, now let’s look at how intentionality can be a marriage builder. Let me start with a personal illustration. Some years ago, our family went through a very troubled time with one of our kids. It could have been a real strain on our marriage, but were intentional as a couple. Every Friday morning, we headed to the beach for breakfast. We had a special restaurant right on the sand and we were there every Friday morning.
Sometimes we just sat there after eating, soaking in the sun and the salt air, barely talking. Other times, we talked and problem solved–or attempted to do so. We got to know some of the waitresses and they would talk with us after the rush. But we were there every Friday morning! If someone wanted to meet with either of us on a Friday morning, we had to say we were sorry, we already had a commitment. That’s how we survived a very dark and difficult time in our family. We intentionally faced it together.
I often suggest that couples intentionally plan some time like that on a regular basis. For some, it can be the 15 minutes you sit just the two of you at the table after dinner. It’s your time, and the kids know it. I’ve seen couples who repaired their marriage just by spending that 15 minutes together 5-6 nights a week. One couple said that the 15 minutes stretched into an hour and half one night, and it was wonderul.
What did they talk about? I told them to talk about things friends talk about. After all, research has shown that the foundation of a healthy, satisfying marriage in the quality of the friendship the couple share with each other. Friends talk about anything and everything, and friends can also sit together comfortably in silence.
Check out the other rituals you have as a couple. What do you do when one leaves the house, or when that one returns home? Attending church together, praying together, a week-end getaway just for the two of you–all these are examples of ritual and intentionality.
Jan and I are involved in a New Life Marriage Weekend in Dallas coming up on October 19-21. We’d love to meet you there. Steve Arterburn, Milan and Jan Yerkovich will also be on the program. You can get the details at www.newlife.com.