My wife and I are big believers in “intentionality”. To define that, intentionality is being purposeful in taking actions to achieve an objective or vision. I have found that if I’m not guarded, there is so much that can happen in life by inertia. Just looking at the shelf at your local bookstore, you’ll find that many authors and self-help gurus are capitalizing on this dynamic.
But, it doesn’t take huge investments in self-help books or courses to be intentional, and it doesn’t take a lot to benefit from intentionality in your life. I’d like to share one key area where intentionality has been all but essential to success, essential to overcoming bad choices, and essential to living an above-average, joy-filled, positive life.
Love and Marriage
Marriage, and the underlying issue of “love”, are two of those essential, life-changing topics in life that Hollywood and pop-culture seem to be completely clueless about.If you watched any number of romantic movies, you’ll learn that there is a magical kiss that reveals whether someone is your “true love” or not. It’s a kiss or something to do with fate. Hogwash.
I don’t believe in the notion of “falling” in love, as if it was an accident or something you are helpless to. As men (I can only speak for my side of the gender aisle), we tend to allow cultural presupositions drive our thinking, which in turns drive our emotions and feelings. Hence, “falling” in love feels like something that happens to you, as opposed something you chose to believe in as a result of ideas you adopted. Here is how Wikipedia defines it: “a presupposition is an implicit assumption about the world or background belief relating to an utterance whose truth is taken for granted in discourse.”
I could go on and one about this, so I’ll just tell you that I have come to experience, see and believe that “love” is not a feeling. At least, not in it’s true definition when used in context of marriage. We often say, “I loved that movie” or “I just love Jon Acuff and queso”. But, those are just preferences or at best emotions. They can come and go. Love is a choice and commitment to the well-being of someone else. Love is sacrificial.
What is Love Anyway?
Here is what that classic book of wisdom and knowledge has to say about love.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails.
Of course, my love fails. All the time. But there is a model for the kind of love that never fails. You’ve probably seen the citation at a Football game, but here is what John 3:16 says, “16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” I hope you’ve had the opportunity to learn about the perfect model for love, and if you haven’t, I encourage you to search for it.
Making Intentional Choices
I am fortune that I was raised to believe love is a choice, and that I didn’t have to fall for it. When I met my wife, I saw in her qualities I has seen in other women who were experiencing long, successful marriages. I saw in her qualities I had come to appreciate in my own life. So, despite not having any feelings or emotions for her, I decided to pursue a friendship, get to know her, and spend more time with her. In the words of a wise friend, “Don’t worry about the feelings. Once you start spending time with her, the feelings will come.” They did. Let’s just say I’m crazy about my wife.
I don’t know if this is unique or not, but when I dated my wife, I intentionally chose to never use the word “love” with her. I explained it to her, so she would not be worried about it. I told her love was a choice and that I wanted the romantic, intimate choice of loving another woman to be long-term. So, we dated for 1 year as I got to know her, and as I got to enjoy long conversations about life, and about our core values. And when I made the decision that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her, I told her I loved her.
But, choosing to date my wife, and choosing to love her, and choosing to marry her was just the beginning. It set a healthy precedent for the many tough choices that come up every day in any marriage (or relationship for that matter). We choose to control our tempers, and engage in healthy conflict resolution. I have to choose to make her the focus of the relationship (it’s not about me). I choose to celebrate the everyday moments and to laugh after the tough days.
What About You?
So, if you’re single, you have two options: let life’s circumstances and events direct you to an eventual relationship and marriage, or you can consider that love is a choice, and as such, think about what choice would be best.
If you’re married, the choice has been made (regardless of how it happened). So, now you’re faced with two options: you can let the challenges, struggles and intense work that comes with all relationships determine the path you take, or you can accept that your choices will determine the success, fulfillment, joy, romance and happiness in your marriage.
Either way, it’s not going to be easy. But, if you take the intentional path, you won’t be wondering why things happen. You’ll be able to recover from your bad choices a lot better because you’ll be able to take ownership for them. And trust me, we all make bad choices.
Of course, not everything in life is under our control or subject to our choices. But I can choose to love. I can choose to forgive. I can choose to ask for forgiveness because she is of greater value than my pride.
What Are Key Areas of Intentionality For You
Share a comment and tell us your story of how an intentional choice made all the difference in your life?