July: I Do Every Day
Closer. In a Way You Didn’t Expect.
Marriage Is Falling on Your Face Together
Let It Go, Let It Go
She left her brush on the kitchen counter again; totally grosses me out.
He set the new toilet paper roll on top of the old one!
She always talks to my mom in that tone.
He was late for dinner again.
Overlooking the same old offenses is tough for a lot of reasons. We tend to think, If you really cared about me, you’d change. Or, This is just a representation of a bigger problem.
Sometimes, both of those things have validity.
But sometimes our spouses—and we—are just profoundly human. Sometimes, we’re keeping a tally, and creating a culture in our homes that demands perfection rather than gushing grace. We’re keeping that record of wrongs because it feeds that slight superiority over our spouse, gives us a reason to guard that grudge, or hands us just cause to keep our spouse at arm’s length.
But the world runs on giving us what we deserve, on insisting we perform in order to be loved.
Our homes could be different.
What would it look like to choose grace? To choose patience, tenderness? To let it go?
Leave some wiggle room for each other, some warmth around the edges. Make your family a refuge from conditional love.
FamilyLife’s 30-Day Oneness Prayer Challenge is a simple tool to help you start a habit of just five minutes of praying together as a couple. If you liked today’s adapted sample devotional, sign up to experience the entire 30 days with your spouse.
The Good Stuff: Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.
Action Points: What’s the pet peeve that rubs to the point of causing a blister? Pray about whether you need to graciously discuss the issue beneath the issue—or whether it’s time to simply let go and forgive.
I Plan on Falling Out of Love With You
Most of us didn’t have to work too hard at passion when we were dating. But one Italian study found that the brain chemistry of that first flush lasts at most two years. (So we get some hormonal help with that one.)
Hmm. Add the one, carry the four … Those two years seem to be about three percent of the time we actually need marriage to last.
But if love is a choice, does passion in marriage really matter?
First, let’s look at the big picture. Passion is all about our pleasure in and excitement about each other. Delight and mystery and romance and fondness (or the lack thereof) are a sort of marital thermometer, cluing us in to whether things are tired, strained, or distant; or intentional, tender, and still discovering the wonder in each other. And passion breeds connection, oneness.
Paul holds up Jesus’ devotion to and gentle, purposeful care for His Bride as the pinnacle of marital love. In fact, in His recorded prayer for His bride before His death, Jesus pleads for this kind of closeness: “that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you” (John 17:21).
That kind of oneness is pretty far beyond a peck on the cheek before bedtime.
So passion does matter because marriage is a picture of Jesus and His church (see Ephesians 5:22-33)—Christian marriages are a mural for the world to observe, with each household creating brushstrokes on the canvas.
While these are larger reasons for passion between you, on an individual level, God delights in our happiness in each other. (“I don’t really want romance.” Said no one ever.) Our fondness and genuine affection for each other are a see-it-touch-it-feel-it expression of God’s pleasure in us. In romance, we see that we are completely known and completely loved.
If passion feeds closeness and oneness in your marriage, then what can you do to feed passion? Stoke the flames with a creative date night, that random love note, and a little bit of zing.
Keep reading for nine more ideas to feed the passion in your marriage.
Action Points: Be honest. What perpetually stands in the way of you and the closeness you crave? And what’s one definitive, no-excuses thing you could do about it?
Haptics for a Happy Marriage
By Jim Mitchell
Ever heard of haptics? I hadn’t until a friend of mine (a tech geek) was explaining some features on my new smart phone and mentioned that the button wasn’t actually moving in response to me pressing it. “It’s using haptics,” he said.
I googled it, of course, and learned that it’s “the use of technology to reproduce sensations that would be felt by interacting directly with physical objects.”
Essentially, the phone is helping me feel its own internal non-physical activity. I still can’t explain it, but it does remind me of the little things my wife and I do to send signals to one another—our own personal haptics. Here are just a few:
Three taps=I love you. Four taps=I love you too. We do this at movies or in restaurants to sneak flirty moments into public settings. And no one else knows!
Foot wrestling. I’ll sometimes slide my foot underneath hers in bed at night (a perfect fit because my legs are longer) and our feet will gently press against each other. This creates a super cool tension between us where she can’t push my foot down, but I can’t push hers up either. No one “wins” the foot wrestle, and it makes us feel strong together.
We have many more, and apparently, it’s not just us.
In her book, The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages, researcher Shaunti Feldhahn reveals that a stunning 70% of highly happy couples send these signals:
“We’re like bumper cars around the house,” one couple describes. “I know―it’s juvenile! But if he comes up and bumps against me at the kitchen sink and then a minute later I bump into him in the doorway to the study, I’ve just said I accept his apology.”
Haptics for a happy marriage. Simple, nonverbal, nonsexual cues of playfulness and togetherness and relational safety. Do you have any of those?
The Good Stuff: Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. (1 John 3:18)
Action Points: How could you say to your spouse, “I feel great about us,” without words? How would you convey, “We’re gonna be okay,” without actually saying it? Try sending haptic signals today and see how you click.
The Foot Pop
By Lisa Lakey
It’s one of my favorite moments from one of my favorite movies.
Mia Thermopolis (played by Anne Hathaway in The Princess Diaries) finally gets the kiss she’s always dreamed of: the foot popper. In Mia’s words, “In the old movies, whenever a girl would get seriously kissed, her foot would just kind of … pop.”
Remember the last time you experienced the foot pop?
In this real-life thing called marriage, romance isn’t always magical. The last time I was seriously kissed, our 6-year-old started banging on the bedroom door. The struggle is real.
But real romance in marriage isn’t about creating a “moment.” Proverbs 5:19 says, “Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.”
That’s a bit steamier than a foot pop, right?
Notice two very important parts of that verse: at all times … always. Solomon wasn’t talking about one great, chick-flick-worthy moment. Always. Even when those kisses are pecks on the cheek when running out the door.
Foot pops? They’re just moments. Real romance is in it for the long haul.
The Good Stuff: Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well. (Proverbs 5:15)
Action Points: Make-out sessions were made for married couples too. When was the last time you seriously kissed? Lay one on your spouse … soon. Let ‘em know they still got it.
Our Adult Worlds Need the Cross
Driving on I-75 near Exit 141 in Caryville, Tennessee, you’ll see a 101-foot cross greeting you from a distance, a massive silver structure that fills your windshield as you get closer.
Arriving at its base, you’ll also see a huge ranch house structure with a sign on the front saying “Adult World.” The cross rises up out of the ground right at the edge of a massive parking lot surrounding the long-standing porn store.
It’s a bizarre juxtaposition, a stand-off in place since 2003 when a local preacher put the cross there.
Fitting, because the metaphor it represents is a preacher’s gold mine:
- The cross is much bigger than our worst sins.
- The only answer to the darkest parts of our mind is the cross.
- Bring your personal evil and lay it at the foot of the cross.
Take your pick. They’re well-worn but remain obstinately true.
Because I hate the garbage dump that hides inside me.
It’s not unlike that windowless store: embarrassing stuff. Relationship-killing stuff. Broken stuff that stays hidden most of the time.
But when the darkest parts of me make their way to the surface, I need Amy’s help to get to the cross. When her darkest sins rear their head, part of my stewardship in her life is to help her get to the cross.
If something evil like pornography or any kind of deviance has come to light, don’t turn against each other.
Instead, turn to the cross together.
Believing the cross is truly our only answer for sins like pornography can sometimes seem—well, scandalous.
But it’s not.
Because only the cross can disarm and absorb the power of real sin. Only the cross can bring the healing you both need.
So don’t turn on each other. Help each other get to it.
The Good Stuff: But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:13)
Action Points: If you’re not used to your marriage being a constant place of “I’m Sorry”/“I Forgive You,” it can feel challenging to get started. Try steps like these:
- Tell your spouse of your commitment to start this in your marriage. Let them know you’ll be ‘fessing up more frequently and asking for their forgiveness.
- Start by apologizing for a small offense. Or try apologizing at the very beginning of your next argument; you might be amazed how starting with the “log in your eye” (Matthew 7:4-5) deescalates the tension.
- Pray together before bed. Confess aloud the ways you’ve failed that day.
Arguing Is Like Eating a Bad Hot Dog
The first fight I can remember with my wife was over a misplaced pair of tickets to a New York Mets baseball game.
I’m generally the more forgetful member of the family, so it shouldn’t have come as a shock to me that I’d be the accused. But this time I wasn’t having it. I felt disrespected, and my normally easygoing manner went into hiding along with the tickets.
“What? Is your memory perfect?” I said. “How do you know you didn’t lose them? Why do you assume this is my fault?”
Before long, the fun afternoon we had planned began to feel like eating a bad hot dog.
How we respond in moments like these make all the difference in a marriage.
For most of us, forgiving feels like something is being pried from us: our justice, our sense of self, our dignity. Like the parable of the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:21-35), the offense someone has caused looms large and unforgivable.
But forgiveness isn’t saying what the other person did was just, nor is it bypassing accountability for the offender.
It’s a choice to bless in the face of an insult, like Jesus did for us; to continue pursuit of a loving relationship when we want to wash our hands of the other person. It’s a choice not to dwell on the offense. Instead, forgiveness opts to see a person as more than the sum of their errors.
Forgiven people forgive people. And the more we internalize the magnitude of how much we’ve been forgiven? The more those Mets tickets (or the equivalent) are eclipsed by mercy.
After a frantic search around the house, we eventually found the tickets. As it turned out, I was the one who had misplaced them!
At that point, my wife had a choice. She could let our fight ruin the afternoon, or she could remember the forgiveness that Christ had given her and offer that same forgiveness to me. She chose the latter.
I don’t remember who won the game, but I do remember this: On that day, we both won.
For more on forgiveness read “What It Means to Forgive” by Winston T. Smith on FamilyLife.com.
The Good Stuff: … forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)
Action Points: If you were to think about one area in which you haven’t forgiven your spouse—or need to choose forgiveness again—what would it be? What stands in the way of your choice to forgive? Is it worth sacrificing the forgiveness you’ve been granted? (See Matthew 6:15.)
Lord, Make Me a Better Wife (And Start With Him)
By Lisa Lakey
God, if you would just make him be a better husband, I will be a better wife.
I’m ashamed to admit I uttered these words often during the first couple of years of marriage. I was all about praying for my new husband. I knew that’s what a good wife should do. I just went about it the wrong way.
I’ve also given God a list of ways my husband could be a better spouse. Not in any particular order, of course. I just knew our marriage could thrive, as long as he did xyz. The problem with this line of thinking is it shifts all responsibility and blame for the problems in our marriage to my spouse.
And it uses prayer as a selfish attempt to control my spouse. Thankfully, God sees past my selfish ambition and works to change me.
Philippians 2:3 tells me to “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”
I doubt I’ll ever completely be able to pray without selfishness—my own agendas, my own sin—clouding my vision. (Thankfully, I believe the Holy Spirit intercedes on my behalf, praying God’s will for me; see Romans 8:26-27.)
But rather than praying from a heart that blames my husband, I’ve started looking for the “log in my eye” in my prayers (Matthew 7:5)—allowing God to first reveal my own heart. Then I see a lot more clearly to pray for my man.
The Good Stuff: And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. (1 John 5:14)
Action Points: We often think we know what’s best for our spouse. Instead, humbly ask your spouse how you can pray for them—and prayerfully seek God’s desires for your spouse. Take time for spouse-related gratitude as you pray for them.
Fighting Over the Same Stupid Thing
It’s a fascinating statistic. Approximately 69 percent of couples’ conflicts are irresolvable and will be with them in one form or another for the life of the marriage.
Um. Is that supposed to be encouraging?
Here’s why this truth is hopeful.
John Gottman, the author of The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, has been studying marriages for decades. He explains, “The reason they are irresolvable, or perpetual, is that no one is wrong concerning the issue. The issue they are disagreeing on is merely a matter of preference.”
No one is wrong. I like that part.
Traveling with my husband is a normal part of my marriage. But contrary to popular assumption, my husband packs more than I do. And it has been one of our “irresolvable conflicts.”
I have learned to let him pack what he wants and how he wants—until he asks, “Can I put these things in your suitcase?”
No. No, you may not.
Who is right?
Mostly it’s just a case of our differences showing up in a very common situation. Over time, he has learned to ask me less frequently for my space, knowing I like him to take responsibility for his own extra items. And I’ve learned to be more gracious and share.
Our methods of packing are really a matter of preference—an irresolvable difference—and learning to be at peace with irresolvable differences has been liberating.
Different is not wrong. It’s just different.
Tired of fighting about the same things? Click here for advice from the experts.
The Good Stuff: The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult. (Proverbs 12:16)
Action Point: Think about your recurring conflicts. You might find that many are just irresolvable differences. What win-win compromises could help you move forward in peace?
What We Zoom In On
I had totally intended to clear the sink of dishes. But after washing the two big pans, I got distracted. Later that evening, lying in bed, my wife turned to me and said, “About the dishes …”
Uh oh, I thought. My mind immediately began to race. Why had I gotten distracted? I needed to come up with an excuse—fast.
I had just begun to form a brilliant defense when she said, “Thank you for scrubbing the big ones. They’re heavy, and I really appreciate you taking care of them.”
My mouth opened, but no words came out.
In marriage, a spirit of thanksgiving can make a huge difference. What you focus on most is what you’ll notice most.
If you give thanks for your spouse’s efforts at provision, then you begin to notice efforts at provision that you once overlooked. If you give thanks for your spouse’s efforts at cleaning, you begin to notice examples that you never saw before.
Focusing on the negative can have the opposite effect. The more we complain, the more evidence we find to justify our complaints. This breeds disappointment and bitterness and often spills out in the form of crude jokes, curses, insults, and sarcasm.
Unfortunately, it is not always easy to focus on the positive.
My wife and I have different ways of viewing time. To me, 15 minutes early is on time. To her, two or three minutes late is no big deal. I don’t need to mention the friction this causes, right?
One day, fuming because she wasn’t ready, I realized I should shift my focus. I began praying for my wife and thanking God for making her the perfect companion.
As I did, I began to realize why she’s usually late. God gifted her with a deep care for the needs of others. While I was judging her, she was preparing a bag with snacks I’d appreciate later that afternoon.
On my own, I would have never realized this. But tapping into God’s mysterious power, I was able to appreciate her thoughtfulness.
For more on thankfulness, check out “Gratitude Is a Choice.”
The Good Stuff: Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. (Ephesians 5:4)
Action Points: Next time you find yourself wanting to complain about your spouse, try thanking God for your spouse instead. You may be surprised by what you notice next.
Even When You Do Bad Things
My son was 4 when I made a phone call I wished I didn’t have to make. Before I’d left, I’d totally blown my top. I was still focused on his error, so my apology hadn’t percolated to my still-steamed heart.
I picked up my cell—and will always remember his response.
“Mommy, I forgive you. And even when you do bad things, I still love you. And even when you do bad things, God still loves you.”
Now I felt really bad for yelling.
The power of this was in my 4-year-old son repeating the gospel back to me. He not only got it, he applied it. (Granted, that night after I caught him spitting on the bathroom mirror, he said, “I want to let you know that even when I do bad things, I still love you.”)
But honestly, this is what I want for our whole house—my marriage included: I want you to know that I completely forgive you, and that I believe God forgives you, too.
Forgiveness is a promise to:
- Not dwell on the hurt.
- Not seek revenge, but rather pursue relationship and good for the other person (see 1 Peter 3:9).
- Not to talk about this with someone who’s not part of the solution (a.k.a. gossip).
- Excusing or denying sin. Forgiveness calls sin wrong, and chooses to repair the relationship anyway. If you choose to overlook, make sure you can still make the above promises—and make sure it’s not a repeated issue in your marriage that needs to be addressed.
- Sidestepping consequences. Trust may need to be rebuilt; accountability may need to be put in place.
- Ignoring hurt and the need for restoration.
Conflict plays out the gospel all over again: laying down our lives and our rights in the midst of our spouse’s sin. We remember just how much we’ve been forgiven (check out Matthew 18:21-35), and choose to extend that to someone else.
Forgiveness rolls out the red carpet for us to witness the gospel again and again with those we love the most.
A happy marriage requires us to forgive each other often. Voddie Baucham explains that the only way to do that is to have a solid grasp of God’s great forgiveness of us through Christ on FamilyLife Today®.
The Good Stuff: Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:31-32)
Action Points: The withholding of forgiveness can become an odd source of power for couples. What kind of freedom could you have if no one in your marriage was holding a grudge over the other? Let a constant flow of giving and receiving of forgiveness become your new normal.
The Not-So-Open Road
By Dave Boehi
When I was young and single and stupid, I didn’t like making reservations when I was planning for a road trip. Why reserve a specific hotel in a specific city when I didn’t know how far I would drive that day?
Driving to visit my family took about 18 hours, and I tried to knock off as many as I could the first day. When my eyes began drooping late at night, I would look for a motel.
Then along came my wife. Preparing for our first visit to my parents’, she suggested we make reservations. I didn’t take her suggestion. Hey, it was part of the adventure!
When we began looking for a room late that night, (and when I say “looking for,” I mean literally driving up and down the freeway searching for a place with the “vacancy” sign lit up, since this was before GPS that gives you nearby options and smart phones that allow you to book a reservation online from the convenience of your vehicle) we discovered none.
We finally found a room at 3 a.m.
I didn’t fully realize then that my lack of planning was plain stupidity—the privilege of a single man. But I did recognize I should start thinking of my wife’s interests more than my own.
She needed the safety and security of knowing how far we would drive each day, that we would stay in a hotel (with an “h”) with clean sheets and no six-legged guests. As her husband, I needed to make that my priority.
Any marriage is a union of two selfish people who both want to “do it my way.” When we try to make choices together—on issues ranging from how to spend the paycheck to how to fold towels—we continually battle our wants. Yet Philippians 2:3 challenges us to “count others more significant than yourselves.”
Keep this verse in mind as you consider the choices that affect your marriage. As for me? I’ll gladly sacrifice those extra late-night miles to experience the trip with her.
The Good Stuff: Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3-4)
Action Points: The best place for us to practice humility—being “servants of all”—is in the little stuff. Find at least one way to make Philippians 2:3-4 a reality by choosing your spouse instead of yourself. And remember the ancient proverb: “The foolish man ignores his wife for the sake of adventure, but the wise man makes hotel reservations far in advance.”
Could It Be This Easy to Improve Your Sex Life?
By Lisa Lakey
A thriving sex life has long been linked to health benefits, from lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease to certain types of cancers. Several reports also suggest having sex twice a week or more may just increase your life span.
But something tells me that’s not what really makes you tumble into the bedroom.
There’s a different kind of “cancer prevention,” too. In 1 Corinthians 7:5, Paul wrote that, as a married couple, we are not to “deprive one another … so that Satan may not tempt you …” Paul knew sex protects us from the “heart diseases” of lust and unfaithfulness that mutate in our core.
Keep your marriage strong by coming together often as husband and wife.
- Connect daily. Women in particular feel more sexually attracted to a man who cares about what’s going on in their lives. Because sex is an outward expression of what’s already happening between you emotionally, spiritually, and in every other aspect. Even if you only have 15 minutes to spare, look one another in the eye, and share what’s going on in your lives.
- Flirt. Your spouse wants to feel wanted too. It’s amazing what a little wink across the breakfast table or raised eyebrow can convey. Text your husband to let him know you can’t wait to see him later, or slip a little note in your wife’s purse: You are beautiful to me. And I hope to fully communicate that to you later …
- Build up your spouse. Short, to-the-point statements can go a long way in building up your spouse’s self-image. Thank you for all you do. … Have I mentioned lately what a fantastic lover you are?
While there’s no “path to a perfect sex life,” a little effort can open the door to healthy connection rather than temptation.
The Good Stuff: For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. (1 Corinthians 7:4)
Action Points: Talk about your sex life with your spouse. What’s working? What’s not? True intimacy between you requires trust and vulnerability.
You … Complete Me?
I have two teenage boys in my house now. Which means there are a lot of some things, and not a lot of others. We have a lot of laundry, testosterone, jeans perpetually one inch short, weird jokes, gas, and deodorant.
We do not have a lot of silence, patience, or groceries. In fact, I have found that if I buy one bag of tortilla chips and one jar of salsa, it gets eaten. If I buy five bags of chips and two quarts of salsa, it is also consumed, as if by locusts.
Believe it or not, I find an analogy for marriage within my consistently emptying fridge. About six months after we married, I needed to recognize my husband could not fill all my gaps. No matter how much time we spent together or how fantastic he was, I would always be hungry.
And in a sense, I should be. He wasn’t created to be my satisfaction, or even to “complete me.”
Part of it is that marriage isn’t designed to pull all my emotional weight. For millennia, women have been grinding grain, working in the fields, interacting in the village—as opposed to milling through a grocery store of strangers and driving home in silence with windows rolled up.
Men, too, have historically been hunting, harvesting, collaborating. We need friendships!
But there’s more. Even when God Himself was the only one hanging out with Adam, He declared that it wasn’t good for man to be alone. We need community, with that most intimate, naked, and unashamed circle starting in marriage.
But God created us for Himself. My spouse will never provide sufficient life and light.
Author and pastor Ray Ortlund explains that your marriage can be either Christian … or idolatrous:
The difference between Christian and idolatrous is giving versus demanding, enjoying versus using, sharing versus manipulating. It’s the difference between humbled gratitude versus undiscerned selfishness.
When I expect my spouse to sustain and fulfill me in a way only God can, my spouse becomes an idol. And any idol leaves us wanting, clawing, demanding—and punishing when our expectations don’t materialize.
The Good Stuff: For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things. (Psalm 107:9)
Action Points: What unfair expectations might you be placing on your spouse? How could you release those expectations—and find healthy fulfillment elsewhere? Could nurturing friendships help you toward a healthier marriage?
By Lisa Lakey
Since I was a kid, I’ve loved the Rocky movies. Recently, my husband and I watched the original, for probably the first time in 10 years. (Can you hear the theme song?) But this time, I noticed something I didn’t as a kid.
Rocky is a great love story.
Rocky pursues and then coaxes the shy Adrian out of her shell.
She believes in him like no one else, and even buys him a dog to run with him while training.
And then, coming off the biggest fight of his life, bloodied and bruised, who does he call for? Adrian! And she pushes through the crowd to get to him.
She’s his person. And he’s hers.
While I’m not condoning sending your love into a boxing ring to pursue a similar love story, it made me think … am I my husband’s person?
Am I actively seeking to support his endeavors, lighten his load, be his No. 1 fan? If I can’t think of any specific actions to back this up, then probably not.
In Genesis 2, God declared it was not good for man to be alone. He needed a helper. When God created Eve and brought her to Adam, he responded, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh …” (verse 23).
And when she’d messed up tragically, the gravity of her failure dawning on her, death now entering the planet? Adam gives her a name of hope: Eve, the mother of all living.
In essence, Eve was created to be Adam’s person, and vice versa.
So how can I be my husband’s person? I cheer him on in big things and small. Way to go on landing that big job at work! I use my own gifts to help him. Need someone to proof that email or jazz up the resume? I’m your girl.
And I work to listen to him without judgment or impatience and believe in him like no one else. When life (or work, or parenting) has him feeling beaten and bruised, I come running through the crowd to his side.
I want him to know, win or lose, I’m always in his corner.
Our spouses can use a little encouragement during the work week. Here are 10 ideas to get you started.
The Good Stuff: Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2).
Action Points: Ask your spouse how you can better be their “person.” What encourages them? What is something you can do daily or weekly to help bear their burdens?
Those Guys Still Exist
“I don’t understand what’s wrong with guys these days.” My dad was expressing his frustration with young men.
“When I was dating your mother, I would bring her flowers, come in and talk with her parents, open her car door, pull out her chair. I would treat her the way a woman should be treated.”
In defense, I responded, “That’s old fashioned, Dad. Those guys no longer exist. And some girls don’t want to be treated that way.”
Truthfully, that was exactly how I wanted to be treated.
It was how Dad had always treated my mom and his four daughters. It made me feel valued, protected, and cherished.
Then a young man named Aubrey came into my life.
On our first date he opened my car door, pulled out my chair, stood when I stood, sent me flowers, and asked to meet my parents.
“Dad! They do still exist!” I told him over the phone.
He and Mom couldn’t wait to meet him.
A year later, Aubrey and I were married. And even after 38 years, he still makes me feel like the most desirable woman on earth.
But I’ve learned how important it is for me to make Aubrey feel cherished and deeply loved too. Matthew 7:12 challenges me to treat him the way I want to be treated.
I’ve enjoyed encouraging him, telling him how handsome and sexy he is, how special he makes me feel.
He loves when I surprise him with a chocolate candy bar with nuts, or a juicy ribeye steak with rosemary roasted potatoes. Or when I lay my head on his chest while talking in bed, or wrap my arms around him from behind when he’s cooking. Or when I simply hold his hand while we watch television together.
I’ve found that showing each other how much we love and cherish each other, in addition to saying, “I love you,” is essential for protecting our marriage, growing closer together, overlooking each other’s shortcomings, and going the distance.
The Good Stuff: “Above all, keep loving each other earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)
Action Points: This week, spend a few minutes during a meal talking to each other about some of the things that speak love to you. Then be intentional about putting that discovery into practice.
What Not to Hide
By Tom Davis
During World War II, when England was facing invasion, gemstones from the royal crown jewels were stashed away in a biscuit tin in case they fell into enemy hands. The stones were buried in a deep hole at Windsor Castle following orders from King George VI as a precaution against Nazi occupation.
The queen, for her safety, did not know until much later that the jewels had been removed from the royal display case.
Marriage acts as a display case for the world to see the love of God. That kind of love is painstakingly produced between spouses through sacrifice and tough times. It’s invaluably precious. Meticulously curated from years of care, as we overcome natural hard-heartedness.
Our world desperately wants to know if the love of God is real.
Though my marriage is imperfect (like any natural gemstone), my radical commitment and sacrifice to the needs of my spouse showcase volumes. I can’t stash the love of God in a biscuit tin and hide it away for fear:
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)
The Good Stuff: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)
Action Points: Jesus’ life radically showed the kindness and mercy of God. What difference would it make if your marriage was primarily about displaying God’s glory?
Waking Up Next to a Stranger
By Lisa Lakey
Rolling over in bed one morning, I was shocked to realize there was a strange man in my bed.
The man looked similar to someone I once knew: red hair (although I didn’t recall the white hairs sprinkled in), freckles, broad shoulders, large feet dangling carelessly off the edge.
Once upon a time, I married him.
If we aren’t intentional students of our spouses, we may one day find ourselves waking up to a stranger in the bed.
How often have you felt, no one really knows me? Chances are, your spouse has felt the same way.
Proverbs tells us to “rejoice in the wife of your youth” (5:18). When was the last time you got excited over your spouse?
Sure, they’ve changed. My redhead now has bits of white in his beard, but he is still the man I married. I just need to intentionally learn about the man God is growing him to be—and there is a lot to celebrate about that.
Come to think of it, my waistline isn’t what it was on our wedding day. But we have two beautiful children who grew inside that waistline. My husband might not stay up all night talking with me like he used to, but those slightly-more-wrinkled hands work more hours than he did in his 20s to provide for our family.
Your spouse should change. I’m thankful we aren’t the same kids as when we met 17 years ago. We’ve matured (mostly), grown (through good and bad), and life has weathered the two of us.
But there’s no one I’d rather wake up next to.
The Good Stuff: “Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth … be intoxicated always in her love.” Proverbs 5:18-19
Action Points: Get to know the person you married, even if it’s been 50 years since your vows. Plan a second “first date.” Over dinner or coffee, ask them questions to get to know them all over again.
The Thing We Don’t Talk About
It was early in our marriage when I summoned the courage to ask my father-in-law about his first marriage and subsequent divorce. (It was the one my husband had been too young to remember.)
My family is the kind that talks about nearly everything, and sometimes right at the dinner table. As a general guideline, we embrace cringe-worthy moments.
But being too new to my husband’s family, I didn’t know that the subject of his parents’ marriage had been rubber-stamped: “TABOO—THOU SHALT NOT TALK ABOUT THIS.”
The funny thing? My father-in-law didn’t seem to be the least bit flustered. Perhaps because of the passage of time, perhaps because I didn’t know any better, he answered questions my husband had never attempted to ask. My husband’s eyes widened as he understood new parts of a mystery-smudged history he’d only wondered about.
What’s the one thing in your marriage you don’t talk about?
Maybe it’s money. Maybe you don’t ask about his feelings when he’s in that mood, or you’ve never asked her about what she specifically feels during sex. Maybe you don’t ask about that shadowy area of his childhood, or talk about guys she dated before.
Where could your relationship go if it could go anywhere?
What I’m not saying? “Don’t hold back. Say whatever comes to mind.” Our culture has confused “being yourself” with “If you think it, say it” at the expense of loving the person in front of you well. Ephesians 4:29 still applies: We don’t speak what’s corrupting, but only say what builds up, gives grace, and is appropriate for the occasion.
But God designed marriage as a place where we’re naked emotionally, physically, spiritually … and yet not ashamed (Genesis 2:25). When my husband wanted to etch that on the inside of his wedding ring, his good-girl little wife-to-be was embarrassed. But now I understand that’s a core trait of relational health: being completely known, and completely loved.
Be a little more courageous, a little more vulnerable. What former taboo could bring you closer?
The Good Stuff: And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. (Genesis 2:25)
Action Points: The next time you come to something you couldn’t possibly talk about with your spouse, challenge yourself to take one step closer to your mate—for a one-step-closer-to-real relationship.
The Good Kind of Leaving
Three months before we married, I was laid off from my job. With our income slashed, we had to pull back from our search for an apartment to live in after the wedding.
Thankfully, my parents owned an apartment building. But when I explained our situation to my mom, she shocked me by saying she would not allow us to move into their building.
Furthermore, she said that after the wedding she didn’t want me to complain to her if my wife and I ever had a fight.
How could a strong Christian woman respond to her son like that? I felt rejected by one of the women who’d loved me most.
But my mom understood what would force me to “leave my father and mother and hold fast to my wife” (Ephesians 5:31).
It forced my wife-to-be and me to work together in ways we never had. She helped me consider new positions and the implications they would have on our life together. When I ultimately found a job, the victory was ours.
Leaving your parents is not a rejection of your past. It’s a wholehearted embrace of your spouse.
The Good Stuff: Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. (Ephesians 5:31)
Action Points: Are there still ways you’re depending on your parents—in ways you should be standing on your own as husband and wife? Do you depend on them financially, emotionally, or otherwise? Strategize together about a process to honorably leave your parents, and cling to each other instead.
Keeping Up With the Wilsons
By Lisa Lakey
Have you ever met someone and immediately thought, “Wow, I want to be like them when I grow up!”? (Just so you know, this can be true no matter your age.)
I wanted to be just like the Wilsons.
We were young, freshly married, and naive about life. Our neighbors were grandparents, married for decades, and had more wisdom than we will likely ever have.
And we adored them.
Mrs. Wilson always seemed to have the right ingredients on hand to whip up a coconut cream pie from scratch, because she knew it was my husband’s favorite.
Mr. Wilson once showed up on my doorstep in the pouring rain, holding his umbrella to invite me to dinner with them. Josh was out of town, and it was storming. They simply didn’t want me to feel alone.
But the best part of this amazing life duo? They loved God in a way I had never seen before. All this kindness and generosity pouring out of them? It was the straight-up love of Jesus. They didn’t just go to church. They considered going an honor and privilege, and invited us along anytime something fun was happening.
I didn’t have to know Jesus to know they loved Him. So much, that the once-20-something-girl writing this now actually wanted to join them.
Through the Wilsons, I met Jesus.
I’ve experienced firsthand that people are watching us … our responses to life … our marriages. What do they see? Do they see someone exhausted by life, running the rat race, and keeping up with the Joneses?
Or, like the Wilsons, will they see something more in us?
What can you learn from a mentor couple? Read Dennis Rainey’s “40 Lessons from 40 Years of Marriage.”
The Good Stuff: But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. (Romans 8:10)
Action Points: Take note of the relationships around you. Who are your “Wilsons” as a married couple? Is there a younger couple you could be “Wilsons” to? And don’t forget the value of learning from a couple that’s been there. Talk with your spouse about approaching an older couple to mentor you.
What Are We Talking About?
Before we got married, it seemed like everyone had a bit of advice to offer. The most common phrase I heard was, “Marriage communication is key.”
I loved this. My bride-to-be and I spent hours talking on the phone. Obviously, we were experts in communication.
After the wedding, it wasn’t as though we suddenly stopped talking to each other, but conversations once filled with hopes and dreams for the future morphed into discussions about schedules, bills, and dinner plans. Physically, we were together more than ever. Yet a few months into our marriage, I remember feeling a little cheated—We connected more before we married! What happened?
Our problem wasn’t that we weren’t talking; it was what we were talking about.
Conversations had descended into an endless stream of status reports. Information was exchanged, but there was no depth, no increase in intimacy.
Our marriage communication became shallow and so did our relationship. If we were going to improve, we needed to recognize that all communication is NOT created equal.
Here are four things we learned.
1. Deal with the fear.
Some conversations bring up deep convictions and emotions. We adopted this rule: If it is important enough to think about, it’s important enough to talk about. True, the conversation might not be pleasant, but intimacy requires that we share what’s really going on inside of us.
2. Find the right time.
Often, delicate conversations fail, not because of malice or bad intentions, but simply because we chose a bad time. Eliminate as many distractions as possible and make sure you are both well rested.
3. Don’t try to win.
Good marriage communication means you fight the problem, not each other.
4. Find your core needs.
Begin with knowing what it is you want to communicate. Exploring your “whys” not only helps your spouse understand you, but it helps you understand yourself.
Need more help in the communication department? Read “5 Communication Tools that Saved My Marriage.”
The Good Stuff: There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. (Proverbs 12:18)
Action Points: What’s one issue you’ve avoided talking to your spouse about? Grab a sheet of paper or make a note on your phone. Then answer the following to make a game plan of discussion:
- What’s the issue at hand?
- Why is this important to me? To my spouse?
- How can I approach this topic while keeping my spouse’s best interest at heart?
- What’s the best time to communicate this to my spouse?
The Secret Ingredient in My Lasagna
By Lisa Lakey
In one day, I managed to:
- hit the snooze button one too many times,
- get the kids to school late,
- get me to work late,
- yell at the kids over a minor infraction,
- drop a fresh-out-of-the-oven dish of lasagna (no one likes shards of glass in their ricotta),
- snap at my husband for helping to clean it up, and
- step on the dog’s tail.
And that’s not including the calls and texts I forgot to return and the cookies and extra cup of coffee I called lunch.
I had pretty much failed everyone that day. By the time my head hit the pillow I was done. Emotionally. Physically. Mentally. I decided to wait until next year to apply for “wife of the year.”
But you know what? It’s okay to not be okay.
We all have days, weeks, months, maybe even years, where we just don’t feel like we measure up.
That’s another reason Jesus came. With Jesus, we begin again. Again and again.
Even when I feel like a failure as an individual, a wife, a mom. Even on the days when my marriage feels so far from His ideal or mine. (He knows my efforts won’t get us anywhere close to flawlessness.)
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly” (Matthew 11: 28-30, MSG).
I don’t need to be perfect, have the perfect spouse, perfect kids, or a perfect marriage. I don’t even have to serve the perfect meal (although the glass was a bit much).
Perfection belongs to Jesus. And He’s patiently, diligently working His perfection in me. He beckons me and my oh-so-human marriage to come to Him, flaws and all.
If you’re in your first year of marriage, you might find some surprises along the way. Read more.
The Good Stuff: But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Action Points: Admit to God that you need Him. Give your weaknesses and struggles to God. Invite God to meet you there and ask Him for fresh grace and strength.
Sex After Kids
I once read a statistic in Parents magazine that 78% of new moms, choosing between sex and sleep, selected sleep.
At the time, I had four kids welded to my knees. I was like, duh. I can hardly strap on someone’s diaper from my need of a REM cycle. I shouldn’t even be driving this pretzel-carpeted minivan.
But how can I get my hands on whatever that other 22% have?!
I even started to see my husband as someone else who wanted something from me. And this can happen to either of us in any season: when we’re overcommitted, overcome by grief or anxiety, or need to heal.
Yet our married relationships truly—deeply—need sex. We need that continued restatement of “naked and unashamed.” We need to revisit and cultivate the private garden Song of Solomon describes, and reiterate our oneness all over again.
Dr. Juli Slattery points out that in rich, time-cultivated tenderness that culminates in sex, my whole person experiences God’s own fidelity, passionate celebration, intimate knowing, and sacrifice. My body and soul witness the depth of His steady companionship. Pursuit. Attentiveness. Generosity. Communion.
Trust me. Your mate may want your energy here even more than folded laundry or the overtime pay.
Practical tips for whichever spouse is too worn out to remember what libido feels like:
Think sex. Your largest sex organ is your brain. Engage it throughout the day toward your spouse.
Go for something other than nighttime. Exhaustion=flatlining libido. Put a DVD on for the kids. Or set your alarm a few minutes early. Or hop in the shower together.
Prioritize exercise. There’s a scientific tie to libido from cardio. You also love your mate by taking care of your body. Bonus: More confidence keeping the lights on.
Pencil in date night. When we’re holistically connecting, sex follows more naturally and willingly.
Say “no” so you can say “yes.” Volunteer for one less activity and replace it with time for you to replenish, so your spouse doesn’t always get the dregs of your energy and enthusiasm.
The Good Stuff: Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine…He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love. (Song of Solomon 1:2, 2:4)
Action Points: Pick one way to actively advocate for sex in your marriage.
Unless You’re Bleeding, We Don’t Want to Know
A few years ago, my son bought me a cool desktop hourglass. Instead of sand, this particular hourglass is filled with iron shavings.
When turned over, the shavings land on a magnet hidden under the wooden base and instantly magnetize. As they fall, the shavings form miniature iron towers, repeatedly growing and collapsing under the onslaught of new material streaming through the neck. It’s mesmerizing.
But there’s only so much material inside. Eventually, all of the shavings come to rest, and time runs out
When I find myself with too little time, my usual response is to try to be more efficient and multitask. Just the other evening, I caught myself monitoring the weather on my tablet, checking email on my phone, and watching TV, all while supposedly spending time with my family.
My body was there. My mind was all over the place.
When Paul said we are to make the best use of our time (Ephesians 5:16), did he really have multitasking in mind? Is it possible all my goals keep me from true presence with my spouse, from being wholly there?
Hebrews 13:4 says, “Let marriage be held in honor among all.” When we honor something, we elevate it above other things. The hourglass my son gave me stands out. It has its own spot on a shelf in my office, lifted up above the clutter of my desk.
One thing we’ve done in our house to help our marriage rise above the clutter is to share a coffee together each day. It’s a simple thing, but it forces us to put electronic devices away, look into each other’s eyes, and talk.
While our conversations aren’t always profound, our dedication to that time is. Through the years, our kids have learned not to bother us while we’re having coffee unless someone is bleeding.
What can you do to lift your marriage above the clutter?
The Good Stuff: Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:15-17)
Action Points: When you next catch yourself multitasking while you’re with those you love, consider taking a moment to put down what you’re doing … and truly listen instead. Give your spouse the gift of presence. What’s one amount of time you could regularly set aside to give your marriage top priority?
The Full Spectrum of Feeling
By Andy Allan
When my mom gifted me a shirt that “goes great with your brown pants,” I was confused.
“You mean my green ones?” I responded.
That was the moment I discovered I’m colorblind (a mild red-green deficiency). No one noticed, including me, until my 20s. I guess most people just chalked it up to my “unique” fashion sense.
When it comes to emotional intimacy, I’ve found myself similarly limited. When my wife asks, “How are you feeling?” my sentence starts with “I feel” but usually ends with “…like taking a nap,”… eating Taco Bell,” or “…punching the wall.”
Emotions serve as signposts pointing to deeper realities within us. Like when I’m mad as I wash dishes, muttering about how dirty our kitchen is and clanking plates at earsplitting levels.
My wife knows I’m angry (the neighbors must know, too). When she asks, “What are you mad about?” I’ll respond with “I’m not angry,” in my best Clint Eastwood impression.
At some level, I know I’m angry but don’t want to admit it. But I need to see through my feelings to what caused them and go from there. If I pause to process, dirty dishes accuse me of failure. “If you were a better man,” their crumbs shout, “we’d be clean by now.” A dirty kitchen makes me feel like I don’t measure up, and I’m filled with anger at myself.
James 1:20 says, “the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” It produces quite the opposite, causing stress and turmoil from the kitchen to the bedroom and everywhere in between.
Examining the belief underneath my anger, especially alongside my wife, has been so helpful.
She doesn’t judge me by how quickly our plates are cleaned, and she reminds me God doesn’t either.
How do you break down those feelings to reach greater emotional intimacy with your spouse? Read more.
The Good Stuff: The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out. (Proverbs 20:5) https://www.biblestudytools.com/esv/proverbs/20-5.html
Action Points: Next time anger or another emotion rises to the surface, think twice before pushing it back down or reacting. Instead, try to put it into words. Calmly tell your spouse what’s on your mind.
How Much Would You Pay for a Twinkie?
By Tom Davis
Back in 2000, workers for the corporate bakery that produced Twinkies went on strike. Twenty boxes from the “Great Twinkie Famine of 2000” were put up for bid. The top offer? $5,150.
That is one pricey pastry.
What we value exposes our hearts. (Sometimes, as in a box of Twinkies, our affection increases the value of its object.)
In your marriage, who or what is the chief object of your affection? To be honest, you can’t always tell my list of priorities starts with God, followed by my wife. You might mention my hobbies, like fishing or golf. Or if you spent the day with me, you might say my phone was the chief object of my affection. (Sorry, Honey.)
And in reality, those things make the object of my affection me.
But Scripture says if I love my wife like Christ loves the church (see Ephesians 5:25), then the love I have for her is measured by the sacrifices I am willing to make for her. I want to show her she is priceless.
Some days, it can be as simple as picking up the dry cleaning, cheering her on to take a night off, or giving her my undivided attention. Other days might be harder. Like giving her my undivided attention during the NBA Playoffs.
My challenge today is to demonstrate through the small, daily decisions that she’s worthy of my time, attention, and affection.
It helps to ask myself … what is she worth?
Speaking of worth, what do you do if you don’t think your husband is worthy of respect? Listen in.
The Good Stuff: Let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 5:33)
Action Points: What is the chief object of your affection? Does your life demonstrate that you love God above all else? Who or what competes for your time, attention, and affection?
Who’s the Ringleader of This Circus?
By Lisa Lakey
I tend to think I’m a one-woman show. Which is ironic, since my life often feels like a circus.
Without thinking, I’ll micromanage everything around me: work, kids, house, schedules, dog … even my husband.
Although I may act like an independent ring leader, most days I feel like a magician. Everything is just an illusion. And at some point, everyone will see me for what I am: a fake.
I mean, which of us thinks, “I’ve actually got this whole thing under control”?!
I know a lot of women who feel this way. We’re juggling so many balls we don’t know when or how to stop. Yep, we’re typically the ones putting this pressure on ourselves.
But guys, it’s exhausting.
I know It can be hard to know how to really help your wife if she has an I got this attitude. It can be hard for us to delegate our responsibilities. But one way your wife will always need your help is in the prayer department.
James 5:16 tells us, “The prayer of a righteous person has great power.” Your wife needs you praying for her daily.
Pray for her roles as a wife and mother. For her work. For her peace of mind, stemming from a peace of heart that doesn’t have to prove anything—because her worth is in Jesus.
And please, pray that she would think of herself with “sober judgment,” humbly acknowledging her limitations and need for others: “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’ … that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another” (1 Corinthians 12:21,25).
As you have opportunity, speak and show her the truth that it’s okay for her to let go of control.
I promise you: Praying for your wife (and the three-ring circus she leads) is one of the best ways to love her well.
The Good Stuff: Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.” (John 4:34)
Action Point: When your wife is tempted to overcommit or micromanage (i.e., overcontrol), gently ask her questions to help her unearth her motivations. Is she serving out of God’s acceptance of her … or serving in order to gain acceptance and worth (self-salvation)?
Wives, prayerfully get honest about the why’s behind your commitments and decisions.
Just Tell Me What I Want to Hear
My husband had this annoying habit when we were first married: Telling the truth.
I’d request his opinion on my shirt, and he would casually let me know if it looked sloppy or less-than-flattering. He’d thank me for the meal from my shiny new Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, but when I pushed, he’d suggest I cut back on the onion.
Or I would begin a well-known wifely script. “I feel so [insert adjective]. I can’t believe you’re attracted to me.”
My husband was supposed to reply, “I am married to the most beautiful woman in the world.” But he recognized the quicksand of my insecurity, my attempts to drag him in.
A truth-teller would not speak with inaccurate superlatives. Instead, he extended a branch: “I’m not going to say you’re the most beautiful woman in the world; you wouldn’t believe me anyway.” Try me. “But you are beautiful to me.”
Kind of anti-climactic. Where did this guy go to man school?
At times he thought that I wanted to be reminded of scriptural principles. (And I did. But not when I was sinning, for Pete’s sake.) Not in a self-righteous way. Just carefully, honestly telling me what I needed to hear.
He was gut-level honest about sin he was struggling with. At first I’d feel awkward. Or disappointed. Or angry.
But the more this happened—and the more I revealed my own struggles—the more intimate and refining our relationship became. We drew closer, confessing failures, then asking forgiveness and even quietly holding each other accountable.
As he grew more gentle, more careful about his timing and choice of words, I recognized something valuable and rare: trustworthiness.
His compliments aren’t an attempt to make me feel good. His looks of admiration are from a brother in the battle, helping me anticipate the places I’d be wounded by my sin—or wound others. The white lies greasing the wheels of so many relationships aren’t welcome.
After nearly two decades of marriage, he’s changed a lot. But I love that he still tells the truth.
The Good Stuff: Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:15-16)
Action Points: Are there ways you avoid telling your spouse the truth to make him or her feel better in the moment? How do the “scripts” you expect from each other keep both of you from greater honesty and trustworthiness? Are you ready to embrace truth spoken in love (Ephesians 4:15)?
Uh-Ohs, Pizza, and the Holy Spirit
By Andy Allan
On our second date, our relationship hit its first speed bump: ordering pizza. My wife loved veggie pizza; I couldn’t pick broccoli out of a lineup. Awkward, even for the server, who had to give us “a few more minutes” 17 times. Years later, we realized we’d each experienced a silent “uh-oh.”
In the early days of our marriage, we had more: “Uh-oh. She doesn’t think Brooklyn 99 is funny.” “Uh-oh. He snores.”
We tend to think the deepest bonds between people are formed by shared interests, likes and dislikes. As Christ followers, though, we have an unbreakable connection with our spouses: the Holy Spirit.
If you and your wife follow Jesus, the same Holy Spirit is with each of you (Ephesians 1:13). God Himself has declared a husband and wife are “one” (Matthew 19:4-6), and the Holy Spirit is the crazy glue that sticks them together.
Our relationship with Jesus, and the presence of the Holy Spirit with us, is the most significant part about us. It shapes everything. It lasts forever.
Therefore, spiritual intimacy forges the deepest, most significant bonds between wives and husbands.
Here are three ways to create and strengthen that bond in your marriage.
1. Get real.
Be honest with God and your wife. Open up and talk about what’s really going on in your life. That’s the first obstacle to hurdle. A letter or text might be a better way to express difficult things.
2. Listen well.
We create safe-sharing opportunities by listening without judgment or advice unless it’s requested.
3. Connect with God together.
Pray together. Being honest with God and your spouse and asking Him to draw you closer together seems to me like pouring rocket fuel into your Honda’s gas tank.
The Good Stuff: In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 1:13)
Action Points: Make a list. What are three things weighing on you that you’d like to share with your spouse (struggles at work, exhaustion, feelings of inadequacy). Pick one to talk to your spouse about this week (or write a letter). Ask them to pray for/with you.