be intentional

Commitment Requires You to Be Intentional

This week my golf game fell to pieces. The funny part is that, for the first time in a number of years, I’ve been out on the course often enough to feel like I know what I’m doing. But my last outing was an unqualified disaster. Fortunately, I figured it out. I was too loose, too relaxed, too casual, too nonchalant. It turns out I wasn’t committing to my shots. It really didn’t matter if it was a drive, a chip, or a short putt, the stroke couldn’t work because I didn’t fully commit.

I think being a dad and a husband are both a lot like that. We feel so comfortable sometimes, so nonchalant, that we don’t apply intention and focus to our commitment. That’s when things start to fall apart. The other part of commitment with intention is “following through.” Following through is what we add to intention to produce commitment that has real traction. [Tweet This]

Read the following thoughts about commitment and intention, then try applying them to your relationships.

  • Intention sets our direction: Intention turns a general, “I want to do better,” into a specific action plan. “I will tell my wife how much I love her; I’ll do it before I leave for work and then again before we go to bed tonight.”
  • Intention helps us to weigh the alternative: When we can visualize how a plan is going to play out (I’m leaving my briefcase in the car and  I will be playing games with the kids this evening,), the consequences of NOT following through are hard to miss.
  • Intention knows what to bring to the table: Having a plan to go with our commitment makes it more likely that we will bring the appropriate tools for the job. If I promise my family a  weekend away, intention clears the calendar, makes reservations, plans a trip, and more.
  • Intention isn’t haphazard: But you know I’m committed; I married you, didn’t I? Intention acts like the commitment is actually rooted in something that makes a difference: My priorities change. How I invest my time and resources now supports the relationship. We begin to build our life together. I am defined by my commitment.
  • Intention makes sure we follow through: When I have a specific goal (I’m going to hit the ball over the water and onto the green. I’m going to follow through and complete the entire swing.), then I tend to follow through with a sense of purpose. When we fail to follow through, the original commitment is called into question: You said you were going to be home in time for dinner with the family, but you didn’t follow through. I thought you were committed to speaking to your wife more kindly? But you didn’t follow through.
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When your commitment loses focus, how do you get back on track?

Derek Maul

Derek Maul is the author of five books, a nationally recognized men’s resource, a committed encourager, and a pilgrim in progress. He divides his time between writing and traveling to speak about the fully engaged life.

  • CJ

    This is all well and dandy if you make the intention to do these things as a husband and father and stay committed, but if you wife decides the commitment is no longer worth her time then you’re screwed! Such as my wife of 21-plus years decided to do over the last two years as she has “checked out” and decided to have an emotional affair with another man in our church that was exposed three months ago. She is still with me and has decided to try and work things out — little by little — but the intention on her part is still not 100%. I can say that I have given her every last ounce of myself throughout our marriage (which she said was actually too much, to clingy and too overwhelming for her — which caused her to withdraw and actually resent me, giving her the excuse to pursue someone else).

    So you can actually be “over committed” and not even realize that it has become too unhealthy. You just pat yourself on the back and think, “Hey, I’m doing better than the other husbands and dads because I do spend so much time with them” but in reality you need to get a life and identity outside your wife and kids or you wind up smothering them too much.

    Now, with my wife, I actually have to back off for her to respect and love me again. A weird concept when every Christian article and book all say you need to pursue your wife as if you were courting her and tell her how much you love her and dote over her every chance you get. You do that and you wind up like me — with a wife who runs away as fast as she can. So you actually need to find a perfect balance and pray, like I am, that your wife will once again fall in love with you, not regret that she married you (like mine said she has) and respects you.

    • David Zirilli

      I am compelled by your reply to this article. By changing a few words in the article it might be more useful to you. Instead of using the word intention. Maybe if you heard the word, “word.”

      Speak your word. Then, live into your word. You spoke a commitment to love your wife 21 years ago. At some point you believed the lie that loving your wife meant not being okay without your wife. You smothered her thinking that you were keeping your word. But, wound up breaking your word. You weren’t keeping your promise to love her by your actions, you were attempting to be loving or attempting to get her love in response or something else. But, you have realized that you had broke your word by smothering instead of loving.

      Your wife had an emotional affair. It happened. She broke her word to you. She chose to look for love from someone else.

      Now, you are speaking again. Now, is the only time you have. The past happened. But, in perspective of this article. What is your intention today? In my words, what is your word today?

      All you have is today. The story that you are telling yourself about the past is irrelevant. What it says about you as a husband, what it says about you your wife as a person. None of that matters. What matters is your word today. What do you declare today? If you were at that altar today, standing before God, your pastor/priest/rabbi/judge, your family, your friends, the world, what would you declare today? What word are you choosing to speak?

      Then, live into your word. Let your word dictate what you do. You are free from letting your feelings dictate what you do or your past dictate what you do or your wife dictate what you do.

      Make a promise and keep it. Speak your word and then live it out. That is what it means to be free. That is what it means to have power. Be a man of your word.

    • jonathan

      CJ, I greatly appreciate both the transparency and the struggle. As David did, I believe it may be helpful to focus on an element of what your shared, which is likely a struggle for all men in marriage at one time or another:

      “You just pat yourself on the back and think, “Hey, I’m doing better than the other husbands and dads because I do spend so much time with them” but in reality you need to get a life and identity outside your wife and kids or you wind up smothering them too much.”

      It is possible, that the focus on your intention was really self justification, rather than truly serving your wife. It’s all too easy to look around at other husbands/dads, and compare or look for praise in their eyes. In only seeing the external of their lives, it’s likely that only the greatest hits are evident. It’s then possible that we work hard to compete with others in the area of commitment.

      Rather, if the intention is to serve your wife/kids, seeking and recognizing their needs (or lack of needs in certain areas) may be a more profitable approach. The service then becomes wholly about them, rather than about what we obtain by serving. In some cases, that may require not serving.

      “Pursuing your wife”, as you referenced reading in Christian books, is about your wife – not about you. Some may also call this sacrificial love.

      There is no better example of this than the life of Jesus. In his example, we see one who is willing to forgo entirely his own needs, to serve the needs of others. That’s true love. And that is why we love him.

      A great place to start is here:

      I’ll be praying for you CJ, your wife and your family.

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Huddle with your family and ask, “Do you know what it means to be intentional and why it is important?”

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