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Intentional Marriage

Updated: Nov 9, 2019

"The day we realized our marriage was in a deep pit was the first day of our redemption... God gave us a new perspective. We began turning our struggles from different directions into striving together. Now we're striving together for more than we could have been on our own before..."

🌹If you haven't listened to this week's episode of my podcast for Intentional Moms, I hope you'll listen today to episode 8 on having an intentional marriage. This episode will gives you specific action items to transform your relationship.

This week on my podcast, I introduced listeners to my husband, Rich. It was so fun to have him join in this episode! I would have enjoyed him being there no matter what topic it was, but this particular topic is very close to our hearts so it was an extra special episode for us to share with all of you.

My husband Rich singing the lyrics we wrote to introduce the "master suite" section of our podcast. (The guitar music is our oldest son, Nathan, who wrote the music score.)

We've been married 27 years and we've packed a lot of life into each one of them.

Our most recent family picture when our son, Nathan, married Katelyn. We have seven children. The three oldest are married and we have two grandsons. That's a lot of life packed into 27 years.

If you'd like to hear a four minute overview of our family, listen here.

I'm sure you know that every marriage experiences some hurdles and some hills and some valleys. Ours definitely has been no different.

The good news is that we "woke up" in one of those valleys one day and realized it was actually a pit. We didn't know that's where we were headed as we made choices in our marriage, but it was those choices that put us there. Why is that good news? It's good news because we woke up! We realized that it wasn't the marriage we wanted nor the marriage we wanted our kids' to learn from. We'd hit rock bottom and that was the beginning of redemption!

Getting Out of the Pit

Our struggles in different directions

*We took a weekend away from the kids. That was the first step - to make our relationship a priority even over the kids. Now that's not a popular perspective these days (putting marriage above kids) but it is actually a big key to having a healthy family and one of the things our kids need most is to be a part of a healthy family. Your kids will find safety in knowing that Mom and Dad's relationship is solid. I've come to experience that my kids actually WANT Rich and I to put our marriage as a higher priority than family time. Their security increases as mom and dad's relationship strengthens.

*We also began keeping a notebook of what we were doing wrong and what a better way would have be as we dug into many marriage books and especially studied the Bible to see what we could find. We found that many of the stories God put in scripture was to show the consequences that happen when people make poor decisions. We would keep track of what we discovered and these records were helping us shape a new set of principles for our transforming marriage. We were doing this to make changes in our marriage but also to save our kids' marriages from some of the heartaches we had brought on ourselves. This notebook chronicled our journey out of the pit and on the road to redemption.

Re-Calibrate, Getting a New Vision

Turning our struggles against into striving together

*That weekend get away was the first of many times in many years that we've come to treasure as a time to RE-CALIBRATE about our family's priorities. We evaluate our family values, examine how we're doing at prioritizing them, and set some goals and actions items for being more focused in these areas. I know that sounds like a lot of work, but we spend a lot of time relaxing and enjoying each other and then we are ready to focus on our road map of hope!

(Don't have the money for a trip away? See if someone would watch your kids for the weekend and have a stay-cation with your spouse instead).

What are your family values?

Taking some time together to re-calibrate our focus, making sure our efforts are continuing to align with our values

It's now been many years since we decided that the strength and health of our family was going to be above career advancement, above our own hobbies or entertainment or adventures, above wealth, and above our individual pride or comforts. We wanted something that doesn't come easily. We wanted a miracle-level life of abundant family life together! Here's our list of top values and goals that we use to monitor the strength of our family:

*We want to make God our top value, both knowing and following Him - we want all of our kids to have a real relationship with the God who made them, to believe in Him, trust Him, and listen to His leading in their lives.

Since God made us, knows us better than we know ourselves, knows the future and we don't, then it makes most sense to us that we should be moment-by-moment seeking to hear his leading in our life. We're going to choose His way over our own. We'll do this as individuals and corporately as a family as well. What a great adventure, to be following God's specific leading for our family!!

Ephesians 2:10 says that we are God's artwork created in Christ Jesus to do good works that God prepared in advance for us to do. This means that our family, with all of its unique personalities, imperfections and scars, is God's masterpiece in the making as we live the adventure of the good works that He prepared for us to do!

*We want to nurture ONENESS in our marriage - here's our podcast episode that explains what oneness is and a few ways we nurture it. We realized that one of the greatest gifts we could our kids was parents in a healthy marriage.

Now if you're no longer to married to your child's other parent, there are still ways you can add stability to their view of marriage AND simultaneously let them know you value healthy marriage.

If your child marries some day, you want them to have a strong marriage and a healthy perspective about marriage and you can influence that even if you are not married. No matter your situation with your child's other parent, you can honor them in your attitude, actions, and words.  You may not be able to respect them or trust them or condone their actions, but you can be honoring about them for your children's sake.

*We value healthy family relationships - we were created for relationship with God and relationship with others. If we really want to thrive in our family, we need to do whatever it takes to learn how to bring our relationships to as healthy a place as possible. This includes learning healthy communication habits, having bonding opportunities, and being careful to value one another - giving both love and respect.

*We value healthy bodies - I'm sure you've come to realize, intentional mom, that your health affects your attitudes and actions and experiences and.... so much more! Maintaining good health or restoring health is a big, constant challenge, I know, but it is worth it! I neglected my health for far too long as mom and I and my kids suffer for that. Which is why I am lazer-focused on improving that now.

*We value our kids' education - One of the responsibilities of intentional parents is to make sure that our child's education is happening in the the best, most effective way possible for that child, that they're being taught truth, and that they're learning how to think for themselves and dig deeper for more knowledge. This will require some time and some sacrifice, but our kids deserve our continued effort for their academic strength. (This will look different for every family and often for every child within a family. I'm not pushing a particular education type, but simply the role of parent in our child's education).

The Six Rooms of the Intentional Mom's Home

The above values are how I formulated the six rooms of the intentional mom's home. If you're familiar with my ministry, The Practically Speaking MOM: Intentional Mom, Strong Family, then you know about the six rooms of the intentional mom's home. On my website, all my blog posts are divided into these six categories. In our private Facebook group, Intentional Mom Strong Family (I hope you'll click through and join this group of intentional moms, the posts are tagged by these six categories, and on my podcast introduction episode it describes all of these six rooms that all of my podcast episodes are divided into.

The Six Rooms of the Intentional Mom's Home (as seen on my website

Family Room - family relationships and parenting

Master Suite - marriage topics

Kitchen- healthy family, healthy mom

Laundry Room - household management (this one isn't a value, directly, in our family. But the systems we have in place determines the level of chaos vs peace in our home and that means that household management plays a big role in the overall strength of our family.

School Room - navigating the education of our child, discovering their strengths and helping them overcome their weaknesses

Front Porch - this is the "room" I've chosen to represent your "God time" your "alone time" and your "friend time."

After our most recent weekend get away, Rich and I came together on the podcast to share some marriage insights that God had laid on our hearts to share with our ministry followers. Here's a few of the main points, but I really hope that you'll click here and listen to this episode on Intentional Marriage.

Some main points or quotes from our Intentional Marriage podcast episode:

"I had to care enough about the strength of our marriage to set aside my emotions that I wanted to have and replace them with what is best for our marriage.  If I do that, then in the end that's best for me too - to be in the middle of a strong marriage is of course more blessing-filled in every possible way than if I just stand on my end of the tug-of-war rope and pull with all my might." ONENESS, a pinnacle philosophy that shaped several principles that we are very committed to now in our marriage. We'll be sharing these principles with you in marriage moment segments in future podcasts.

ONENESS is... *a mini picture of what the Trinity is (Father, Son, Holy Spirit)  three separate personhoods with unique personalities yet completely one. Nothing separating them. Fully aligned. It's a mystery. *Oneness is... a healthy marriage, a little mini Trinity, of husband and wife and God all working together to be more than we would be on our own. *Oneness is a new entity that needs to be nurtured and cared for with intentionality- complete truth, openness, honoring my spouse, honoring oneness, tenderness, sensitivity,  vulnerability, faithful physically, mentally, and emotionally, accountability (wife & husband).

Action Steps: 1. Identify in your marriage what nourishes this marriage and what safeguards do we need to protect it? 2. If we want our family to be Uniquely United, that begins with our marriage first.  How can we better honor the unique qualities that each of us bring to the betterment of our marriage? Are we allowing that blend to produce something greater than we could be on our own?

We also shared a short song with you, a theme song for our master suite segments of our ministry!!

"We are learning a different perspective. Turning our struggles from different directions into striving together. Now we're striving together for more than we could have been on our own before. Still you. Still me. With a new Entity of One."

Instrumental music written by Lyrics by rich and val harrison

Resources we mentioned from this episode Every Man's Battle

Preparing Your Son for Every Man's Battle (these are affiliate links)

Value Cards (not affiliate link)

NOTE: While we only talk about the husband's accountability in this episode, it is something for BOTH spouses to do.  I'll share more about that in a later episode!

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