A Life of Intention

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“IT REQUIRES A GOOD DEAL OF THOUGHT (AND DETERMINATION) TO CONTINUE CELEBRATING YOUR LOVE LONG AFTER THE BEAUTY, EXCITEMENT AND NEWNESS OF YOUR WEDDING DAY DISSIPATES.”

As a young woman in my early twenties I had a very idealistic view of relationships. I wanted the exciting dates to exotic locations, packaged gifts and constant flattery. Instead I was drawn to this man who was so much more intentional about how he loved and showed love. Our love languages were different. One could even argue that perhaps I hadn’t developed one as yet.

The years passed and slowly I grew into my own skin. I became a lot more confident about who I was and what I actually wanted my life to look like. Now at thirty, and almost 10 years into our relationship I feel like we are both incredibly conscious of who we are as individuals and as a couple and are in tune to the ebbs and flows of our relationship.

It hasn’t been ‘work’ to get to this point, but rather more deliberate practice. We’ve been married 2,477 days. I know this not because I calculated it but because we started a joint journal the day we were married. Day one of our married life, we each wrote a line about how we were feeling. And it continued. It survived living in different countries, extensive travelling and the general busyness of life. Our stack of plain black journals is growing. We weren’t sure we would be able to keep the practice up but we have.

One deliberate practice towards being present, mindful and intentional in our marriage led to many more intentional practices. We have Wacky Wednesdays to reconnect in the middle of a week often overtaken with work, parenting and life. There’s also a nightly gratefulness practice where we share what we’re grateful for and what didn’t go too well in our day.

It’s an opportunity to celebrate with each other but to also support and encourage each other through things that might not be going as pleasantly as one would hope. One of my favourites is the way we thank each other for what we have, for each other and for our son, just before falling off to sleep. While being deliberate and intentional, these practices may seem structured and I suppose they are. The structure however doesn’t mean it’s simply a routine. It requires a good deal of thought (and determination) to continue celebrating your love long after the beauty, excitement and newness of your wedding day dissipates.

Intentionality in marriage isn’t simply a way to strengthen a relationship but it serves as a means against which to measure the health of a relationship.

Engaging in these practices forces us to be present and to think about what we’re saying, why we’re saying it and what we’re doing. They also serve as a powerful indicator as to when we’re letting life get the better of our relationship. I was the type of person who held onto things—words spoken in anger, mistakes and other unpleasantries. These days I find myself getting over disagreements quicker and when disagreements get in the way of loving, intentional practices, which sometimes they do, we have over the years come to understand what the other person needs. I need space and my partner needs to know I still love him. This allows us to remain cross if that’s what we need but at the same time acknowledge the genuine love we have. Besides, if I find I’m too stressed to say, “Thank you for you and thank you for Rafa,” I know I need to re-prioritise things, people and events in my life. We all have the option
to build intentional practices into our marriages and lives to strengthen our relationships or we can let our lives be overwhelmed with practices that contribute to its demise.

Many of our intentional practices have emerged unintentionally, though a few were deliberately put in place to ensure we came first. Amidst the mundane moments of life, we were able to cultivate moments of magic that centred on our relationship. Having an understanding of our relationship, its strengths and weaknesses, also allows us to better engage with the world and people around us. Boundaries around our time are especially easy to set and only the activities and people which bring great value and joy to our lives are allowed in. This intentionality then extends to other aspects of our lives.

On this journey a once naive 20-year-old with such a limited view of marriage evolved into someone who had a greater appreciation for what a truly dedicated and love-filled relationship required. It required effort, a desire for growth and a confidence to ignore what everyone else was doing or saying about their marriage.

An intentional marriage requires you to think deeply about your values and your character.

It insists that you focus on the core of who you are in your marriage instead of being distracted by the messages about who and how you and your marriage should be. In being gentle and true to myself about how I really felt about my marriage and partner, I opened myself to a journey of true discovery. Is he my soulmate? He is, but I didn’t know that when I married him. It was a realisation I came to years after our marriage. It came as we grew into our love and our partnership. It came with time and space. It came with the mindful conversations which at times emerged from spontaneous reflections on life, the deliberate moments spent together and the commitment to do what it took to honour the “I dos” we uttered at our wedding. It came because we set out to intentionally grow not just individually, but together.

Credits

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