Lent is a great time to be intentional. It is a time to pray and to fast and to reflect on Jesus and his sacrifice for us, in the run up to the celebration of Easter.
Lent is often a time when as Christians we decide to give up something… or take up something. Forty days (or 46 if you count Sundays) is the perfect amount of time to make or break a habit.
Over the years I have tried many different things over Lent from reflective readings, giving up alcohol, 40 acts of service, ditching the chocolate, taking up exercise and carving out special prayer times. Some were definitely more successful than others.
This year I have a different plan. I am going to be intentional in an area of my life that I often take for granted, my marriage.
Marriages need investment of our time, energy and creativity. A healthy marriage doesn't just happen – we need to work at it and be intentional.
If you're married, perhaps you'd like to take this time to invest in your relationship too. Here are 40 ideas to get you started or you might want to come up with your own.
1 Tell your husband or wife one thing you really appreciate about them.
2 Pray for your spouse and ask God for an encouragement for them.
3 Go for a walk together – just the two of you.
4 Ask your partner about their childhood memories and learn new things about them
5 Give your husband or wife a hug for no reason at all.
6 Ask your partner how you can pray for them today
7 Watch a favourite film or programme together
8 Plan an activity that they would love for you to do together
9 Find an old photo of the two of you and reminisce about a happy time together
10 Take time to discuss three goals for this year that you would like to achieve together
11 Give your partner a massage
12 Discuss ways you can serve together and make some plans to achieve this
13 Make plans to meet with a couple that inspire you or that you can be accountable to
14 Plan a date soon to make love and ask them what would make it special for them
15 Turn off the TV, screens and phones and spend an hour focused on listening to your spouse
16 Tell your husband or wife what you are grateful to them for
17 Ask them about their greatest hopes and dreams for the next five years
18 Cook or buy them a meal that they would love
19 Kiss for two minutes
20 Discuss what God is doing in your lives at the moment, together and separately
21 Buy or make you partner a gift that you know that they would appreciate
22 Put on some music, light some candles and have a meal together at home
23 Plan or go on an activity that neither of you has done before
24 Say 'sorry' for anything you need forgiveness for
25 Talk about places you would like to visit or travel to together
26 Help a friend or family member in need together
27 Thank God for your marriage and your spouse
28 Review your roles and responsibilities and revise any that need changing
29 Discuss a challenge in your marriage and look for "us" solutions together
30 Listen to a marriage talk or read a relationship book and discuss it
31 Host a meal together
32 Discuss your values together – what do you want your marriage to be about?
33 Talk positively of your spouse in-front of someone else today
34 Leave loving notes for your partner to find today or send texts with special messages
35 Ask someone to pray for your marriage
36 Make sure you speak or do at least 5 positive things for every one negative one
37 Make love at a different time of day or in a different location to normal
38 Do a job that you would normally expect your partner to do
39 Have a pillow fight or do something silly that will make you giggle
40 Share your hopes and dreams for the future and pray about them
Sarah Abell is the founder of nakedhedehogs.com and is passionate about helping people to live, love and lead authentically. If you want to find out how authentic your relationships are – you can take a free test on her website. Find her on Twitter @nakedhedgehogs