I was at a restaurant not too long ago and saw an older couple. Maybe in their late 70s or early 80s, there was an air of serenity about them that bespoke decades of life and love together. They ate in comfortable silence, but somehow I just felt they were conveying something beyond words. As they walked out holding hands, I couldn’t help but wonder. What’s their secret? We hear often about how difficult marriage can be, so love that lasts a lifetime must have a secret, right?
To find out what the secret sauce might be, I posed the question to a few of my married friends. I got some great responses including communication, respect, honesty, vulnerability, and friendship. But there was one answer that stood out – be intentional.
Let’s give this some thought. Regardless of arena, success is achieved through intentional behavior. It doesn’t matter if you’re an athlete, a doctor, a blogger, or an artist. And, marriage is no different.
When your intentions are pure, so too will be your success. Charles F. Glassman
The thing about marriage, though, is that it ebbs and flows in one area in particular – communication. How often do you get into it with your spouse over some misunderstanding, misinformation, misrepresentation, or miscalculation? Typically, all of those “misses” can be traced back to some aspect of failed communication with one or both parties claiming, “I didn’t intend to make you feel that way.”
So, let’s take a look at intentional communication and see where it leads.
Intentionally Respectful Communication
Every couple argues. Some have some knock-down drag-outs. Others prefer the passive aggressive method. But to protect the heart and soul of your marriage, it’s important to be respectful when speaking to or otherwise communicating with your spouse. Don’t hit below the belt. Don’t demoralize them. No matter the topic, make it your intention to be respectful.
Intentionally Honest Communication
If you start out with the intention of respecting your spouse and your marriage, then being honest should be less stressful. Honesty gives your partner the opportunity to really know how you think. But when you dip it in some respect, it teaches them to listen to you. The “I just tell it like it is” attitude is nothing more than an excuse to be mean. To have a mature relationship that lasts, it will serve you well to keep Ephesians 4:15 close to the heart and “speak the truth in love.”
Intentionally Vulnerable Communication
This is probably one of the most challenging things to embrace in a marriage. Why? Because society tells a man that being vulnerable means he’s soft. As for a woman, it means she’s being manipulative. However, to the successfully married couple, it means they are allowing their spouse to enter a space where only they and God reside. They then create a bond of trust that they have reason to fight and protect every day.
Intentionally Spiritual Communication
One of the deeper aspects of vulnerability lies in our spiritual selves. I have my own personal relationship with God. My husband has his. But taking the time to share with each other where and how God is moving our hearts is the only way to strengthen our chord of three strands. By being intentional, you and your spouse ensure that God keeps His position at the head of your relationship.
Intentionally Intimate Communication
This one is fairly simple. No one else gets to call you “Babe.” No one else gets to put it on you. No one else gets to send you sensual text messages. No one else gets to talk dirty to you on the phone. I could go on, but I’m sure you get the point. Your marriage is the only place this form of communication takes place if it’s to last a lifetime. Unless you are hot and ready teenagers with raging hormones, you have to be intentional about it. Period.
Now, I don’t know if being intentional is the secret sauce to a happy marriage. In fact, my friend believes that the secret is there is no secret. One thing is certain. If you intend to have a bad marriage, you will. If you intend to have one that lasts a lifetime, nothing will keep you from it.
BMWK, what do you think is in the secret sauce of a happy marriage?
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