Intentional Love

Learn how you can be more intentional in your marriage, not only for Valentine's Day but every day.

by Travis & Stephanie Armstrong on January 31, 2023

 Have you made plans for Valentine’s Day yet? Depending on how you feel about it, you may have already secured a special reservation, ordered flowers, and picked up a card, or you may bristle at the pressure and commercialization of it all. According to recent statistics, 53% of Americans aged 18 and older celebrated this romantic holiday last year. Whether you love it or loathe it, why does Valentine’s Day continue to hold its popularity?

Although grand gestures of love are fun, and surprising your spouse is always a worthy goal, what is it behind the candy, cards, and surprises that make us feel loved or forgotten? The magic of Valentine’s Day isn’t really in the gifts or extravagant displays of affection, but rather in the intentionality.

When a couple is dating, intentional acts of love come easily and frequently. But often as the years go on in marriage, those once deliberate choices to invest in one another begin to fade or become less frequent. We tend to grow complacent with one another, and we forget the importance of demonstrating our love. In our experience in Marriage Ministry, we like to refer to this gradual slide as “the marriage drift.”

For example, have you ever been to the ocean and ventured into the waves only to realize thirty minutes later that where you entered the water is not where you find yourself swimming? The currents of life (work, busyness, distractions, family obligations, etc.) can pull us in different directions from our spouse, and if we don’t swim against it, we can find ourselves on opposite ends of the ocean. In order to combat this drift, we must be aware of it and look for ways to move toward one another rather than apart.

The good news is we have a wonderful example of how to love intentionally in God’s pursuit of us. His love is not passive or conditional, but it is active and sacrificial, and if we ever doubt it, we only need to look to the cross where it is continually demonstrated.

In our marriages, we don’t need an annual holiday or an extravagant budget to express this kind of love. Daily touch points, weekly connections, and monthly deposits are ways we can shift the tide and begin moving towards oneness in our marriage. Most of those investments are free! Date nights are wonderful, but they don’t have to be lavish and over-the-top. Simply going for a walk, starting a new hobby together, praying every morning, sending a thoughtful text, or asking how you can help one another are ways that we find each other again.

Sometimes Valentine’s Day holds great disappointment, but we hope this year you might consider being the spouse who makes your marriage a priority again and goes first in demonstrating your love.