Planning is being intentional. Intentional about the different aspects of life. I am intentional because
I have been given one life and it is precious. I had to learn to be intentional in my marriage. Most
people probably think they are intentional when they are married, but it is not always the case.
Planning in marriage is a place where I want to partner with God who planned marriage in the first place. He is a God of covenant and the marriage covenant is compared to the greatest wedding and marriage of all time – The marriage of Jesus with His church. God is therefore very interested in marriage and has a good plan for it.
Song of Songs 2 v 7 (NKJV)
I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
By the gazelles or by the does of the field,
Do not stir up nor awaken love
Until it pleases.
Years ago I started studying the book in the Bible called Song of Songs. I was at a desperate place in my marriage and needed God to intervene. This whole book is dedicated to the love between a man and a woman, including sexual love in marriage. When I read this part it really stirred in my heart and I realised that in this verse the unmarried woman is asked not to stir up love yet because the time is not right, she was not yet married. In reading that, I suddenly realised that when you’re married, then the time IS right to stir up and awaken love, that was a part of Gods plan. That’s the active, intentional stirring! That was an eye-opener for me!
My marriage had been stale and the enemy tried to creep in and obscure my vision of my husband. Everything was irritating about him, and his shortcomings made me hopeless and angry. It was as if it was all I could see. I was obviously blind to my own shortcomings, but even if I had realised how weak and sinful I was, change felt hopeless.
One day I reached rock bottom and I cried out to a faithful God to help ME to change! I realised I
could do nothing about what my husband did or didn’t do, BUT, I could do a lot about what I did!
Thus began a journey of healing and empowering up to today where we are happily married.
God’s plan for marriage is a joyful, loving environment of health and unity and I had to come in line with that plan.
In this journey I realised the importance of being intentional. Some ways of being intentional include planning. I will share some of the things I changed and implemented, that helped me on a path of victory.
I think the most important to start with is to be intentional in your thoughts. You have to take thoughts captive and bring them in line with the truth. It is a divine exchange – exchange the lies the enemy keeps whispering to me, with the truth of what God says. 2 Cor 10 v 3-5
1 Peter 4 v 8 says: And above all things have fervent love for one another, for "love will cover a multitude of sins. I had to learn to look at the right side of the page. If I was to right all my husband’s negatives on one side of a paper and all his positives on the other, I had to learn to turn the page and intentionally look at the ‘positive’ page.
I had to be intentional about my sexual relationship with my husband and how I perceived it. My thoughts had to change from sex being a chore when I was tired, or sex being a tool to give me a release when I needed it, to sex being a glorious coming together and fun. A place where I was free to give love and sow living seed into our marriage. I read Songs of Songs as well as Christian books about sexual love in marriage and gleaned whatever I could, training my thoughts and bringing them in line with the TRUTH that God loves it when we have sex with our husbands! In Song of Songs there is a profound scripture where God stands beside the lovers and encourages them to drink deeply of sexual love. Sex within marriage is HIS plan and not just for procreation! Song of Songs 5v1b
I had to be intentional to make time with my husband. (As the wife and mom a lot of the planning of the household falls on my shoulders). I had to learn to create spaces where my husband and I could just ‘be’. That included making friends and swopping out sleepover dates for the kids so that we could have time alone. It doesn’t always have to be an expensive date, even toasted sandwiches at home are good if you make it a special time.
I had to learn to be intentionally positive in what comes out of my mouth. For me that included learning to affirm anything positive about my husband – physically, emotionally or spiritually. Look for the positives and verbalise them! Make sure that the ‘thank-yous’ and compliments flow more than the ‘you didn’ts’ and ‘you aren’ts’. The world breaks our husbands down enough. Be intentional in making your home a safe space for him where he can feel appreciated but not mothered.
I learnt to pray first and ask God to prepare my heart and his if I needed to broach a difficult subject. I had to learn to wait for the right moment and then never to accuse or break down, but to use ‘I’ messages. ‘I feel….’, ‘I don’t like….’. It’s always better than the ‘you’ messages… ‘you are…’, ‘you failed me... ‘etc.
These are just some of the things God taught me on my journey. As you become intentional God will lead you in line with His heart and His word. It is up to you to allow God to take you on that journey. I believe that many marriages today are not experiencing the depth of intimacy that God intended. Be the instrument in your marriage to build and not break down, the one whose love covers his sins and doesn’t expose them. Be focussed and intentional. Every positive thing you sow into your marriage is living seed, that God can grow to bloom.
Read more tomorrow in #3 Planning & Intentionality in raising my kids
Liesl is a regular contributor at Women of Reverence. Read more about her here