I have to admit, reluctantly……very reluctantly, that at my age I probably have fewer years left to live than those that have already passed. That means I’m on the downward side of life. During my time on earth I have learned that life is precious, precarious, —and short. My understanding of this fact of life stands in stark contrast to the often held belief that there is an assurance of tomorrow. This phenomenon is easily observed, just bring up the subject of death with someone and listen to his or her comments. Maybe this someone is you right now, perhaps a tingle of uncomfortableness is present when reading about death. If so, I urge to read on because there is a life-changing benefit to such contemplation.
To the wise, recognizing that the days of this earthly life are finite should lead to a sense of urgency and a demand for intentionality. A sense of urgency is a desire to do something or experience something sooner rather than later. Urgency comes with an understanding that something might be missed if action is delayed. Intentionality is about conscience effort, thinking through and planning ahead. Although urgency and intentional living influence many areas of life, it is vitally important when it comes to relationships, particularly the marriage relationship.
Urgency in marriage, then, means to begin now, to do it now, and don’t wait. The idea of urgency in marriage is undertaking action now for the benefit of the marriage relationship. Experiencing the joys of marriage requires a “living in the moment” attitude while, at the same time, intentionally striving to build a deeper relationship. When the thought of giving flowers comes to mind, urgency moves heaven and the other place to buy flowers. When something doesn’t feel right in the relationship, urgency takes steps to figure out the issue and takes steps for improvements…now. The opposite of urgency occurs when couples postpone relationship building in the marriage. Sometimes there is a faulty belief that when this happens or that is completed the relationship will automatically improve. Thoughts such as “I’ll be a better husband when after I get the next promotion” or “when the kids are in school then we’ll have a better relationship” are simply wrong and short-change the relationship. Your spouse deserves the best possible relationship now—not when it is believed to be more convenient.
Let me be clear, urgency does not conflict with planning or preparing for future marriage events but it does bring balance. To illustrate the extremes, allow me to share the true story of two brothers. The first brother and his wife scrimped and saved for decades. The couple rarely ventured out for an evening, agreed to never exchange gifts at Christmas, worked many evenings and weekends for the overtime pay, and never experienced a family vacation. The couple was always postponing. As the couple neared retirement they realized two things. First, they had built a significant nest egg for retirement and, second, they didn’t know each other. To make matters worse, the brother died less than a year after retirement. The second brother worked hard and moved up the ladder of success. However, everything that came in went out. While they had a good time while it lasted, it didn’t last very long–remember, life is short. In the end, they couldn’t do many of the life activities to build a satisfying marriage relationship. The balance between urgency and planning is somewhere in the middle of these two life stories. Keep in mind, a couple who postpones present joy for future adventure may not have enough tomorrows to enjoy the sacrifices while a couple who never sacrifice for a future adventure may never have the adventure.
Being intentional in marriage recognizes that there is always room for improvement and never accepts “good enough”. Being intentional means purposefully and deliberately assessing the relationship then taking steps to improve one’s strengths and manage one’s weaknesses. It means learning your spouse’s strengths and weaknesses. Being intentional means attending marriage conferences, reading and discussing together Biblical truth and other Godly articles and books about marriage, and seeking Godly advice. It also means setting relationship goals and having a strategy to meet them. Being intentional means planning time to be together as a couple such as date nights, get-away-overnights, and time for physical intimacy. At the same time, being intentional leaves room for spontaneity, for those moments of opportunity to enjoy being a couple.
Life is short. Each of us has only one lifetime to share. Choosing and being chosen to share life with someone is an honor. Urgent and intentional living will ensure that at the end of life your marriage will not say, “I wish I had been a better husband or wife.”