Want to watch a group of women swoon? Tell a story about a husband who was completely spontaneous. There is something about the mystery and surprise of impromptu romance that fills women with passion! Anything from randomly picking up flowers to a last minute road trip "just to get away together." Romantic comedies and chick flicks have picked up on this desire in women- for a man to be so overwhelmed with love that he can't help but do the outrageous and unexpected for his woman. Sometimes that even means having sex in the middle of cooking dinner!
Well, I didn't marry a spontaneous man. He is a planner who loves a good schedule. He is intentional about every decision he makes, every meal he eats, and every pair of pants he buys. I learned very quickly that I cannot go clothes shopping with him because I will end up screaming after he tries on the 10th pair of work pants that "just don't seem quite right."
For the first few years of our marriage, I started to wonder if the passion and excitement other couples had just wasn't what I would experience. Caleb would never randomly skip work to have a date, he isn't much of an improviser, and he definitely doesn't stand up in a crowded area and say "I LOVE THIS WOMAN!" (Although that does sound like something I would do). However, as we have gone through hard seasons and walked through challenges, I realized my husband has a quality far greater and more important than being spontaneous. He is intentional.
Caleb is intentional with conversations we have over dinner. Each year he sits down to ask what our goals are as a couple for the next year. He says “no” to other commitments and important opportunities because he knows we haven't spent much time together. In every decision he makes, he is intentional about building our marriage.
The Lord has been slowly teaching me that what I am craving in my relationship (intimacy, passion, and closeness), doesn’t come with the impromptu decisions I’ve wanted Caleb to make, but with the sweet secret of being intentional. Caleb was right all along. While an unscripted plan may feel a lot more fun at the moment, long-term growth comes from being intentional. As I have realized this important difference, it has given me a thirst and desire for things planned together on our calendar more than an impulsive night of sex before dinner.
Not quite sold on this idea? Here are a few things I’ve learned about the importance of being intentional.
Construction of a building, becoming a professional athlete or starting a business... Nothing grows and builds into something significant because of a spur-of-the-moment decision. Building require plans and measurements, athletes must be disciplined and train for years, and business requires sacrifice, projections, and goals.
I want to stay married, have a strong marriage, and hope to glorify Jesus through our relationship. So how do I do that? Previously in my “fly by the seat of my pants” kind of living, I would just have fun along the way and hope we would end up with something great. However, my planning husband has shown me the value of making goals and working towards them.
Just like a small business, take the time to sit down with your spouse and map out your goals. Where do you want your marriage to be in five, ten, or twenty-five years? What are you doing to get there, or are you just hoping growth will pop up along the way? The road to that relationship of sweetness, intimacy, and friendship is paved with planning.
When I have been hoping for my husband to be spontaneous, I find myself waiting. I’m not working toward something, but waiting for Caleb to romance me away. When I instead crave intentionality, I feel like a player in the game. I’m talking WITH Caleb about decisions we are making, I’m planning date nights to get them on our calendar, and I’m a part of building something together.
Can you treat your marriage like a home project? Pull down the old wallpaper, get a new rug, or maybe even tear down an entire wall. View your relationship as something you have the honor and privilege of working on.
Biblical principals clearly teach that where you are is a direct result of the decisions you make. Here is just one verse that shows the concept that what whatever you plant is what you will harvest. It’s from Galatians chapter 6.
Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
For a while, I wasn’t sowing anything. I felt like marriage was just supposed to happen, our love was just going to grow on its own, and my prince charming would always know how to love me. I was walking around the field just looking for fruit to pop up, and was confused when I couldn’t find anything. In His grace, God saw my confusion and handed me some seeds. He said “Hannah, you can’t reap a strong marriage if you’re not intentionally doing the work. Throw those seeds down, water them, take care of them, and growth will come up from the ground.”
Plans, goals, and being intentional isn't quite as sexy as the unplanned surprise, but over the past few years, I’ve been able to witness how beautiful it truly is to pursue a strong marriage together, on purpose. Instead of dreaming of an overly romantic, spontaneous spouse, start to grow your love through the work of intentionality.