This is part two of a two-part post on loving your spouse. In part one, Dr. Passwater gave some general suggestions for obtaining a relational intimacy with your spouse. We begin here where he left off. Happy Valentine’s Day, every day, to all!
Specific suggestions for obtaining relational intimacy
- Take time each day to pray for your spouse. Once a day ask this question: “What is one thing I can pray about for you today?” Change it up: ask in person one time, call or text another time, and you can even email this question. The most important thing is that your spouse knows that you are regularly praying for them. After they express their appreciation over time, try praying together. Most, actually almost all, of my business associates say that they pray at meals together, at church together, but rarely, if ever do they pray together. Take Mark Twain’s advice on this one, but do make progress over time.
- Leave a love note regularly and put some fun into this event. Put a note in the morning paper, in the kitchen, on the pillow, and any other place your spouse will discover your love note. Go ahead and “Make their day!” Again, start gently and build up.
- Make time each day while away from the home to call and tell your spouse you love them. Every day at home, make it a tradition to tell them face to face that you love them. Tell your spouse that you thank God that He sent them to you to be your husband or wife and the father or mother of your children.
- Whenever possible, make the last hour of the day (what I call “The Golden Hour”) that you and your spouse have energy to be together, without the distraction of the television, radio, computer or any other noise makers. In our case it is generally 9 pm. Turn off the phones and computers. I like to make my wife some hot tea and we talk. Your time may be at 6 pm eating dinner. Come home prepared to ask questions about what their day was like, what they are feeling, what they read, what they are concerned about, what they want to do, etc. The most important thing is that they feel that you value them and want to understand them better. This can easily lead to you asking if there is something for which you can pray.
- Take time to walk together. Improved health is a nice benefit of exercise but better yet is that you simply say to your spouse while on your trek, “talk to me.” Watch out, the doors of communication will generally open wide. Most importantly, as they speak to you, listen to their heart, not their words. Try to understand what is really going on and again, remember that good questions open up the lines of significant communications. Another advantage to walking is that you are not looking eyeball to eyeball at each other - when you do, you each see the nonverbal communication that might restrict open, honest communications. Doing so helps even the playing field for them.
- Read the same book together. Find something that you are both reasonably interested in and each day find time to talk about what you read. Challenge your brain to stretch a bit and over time you just might even discover you enjoy a book on church history. Try to find a book that has substance as opposed to pure mindless falderal. On the same note, plan a trip together. Read a travel book and itemize what your spouse and you would love to see or experience. Make sure that if you do go on a trip that their list has been exhausted and accomplished. If you want to do it again you better focus upon their list of dreams. If you do, the second trip will even be better. The goal is to read, think and plan together. The scripture in Proverbs says, “Hope deferred make the heart sick.” In short, this means that if you make promises and they go unfulfilled, over time your spouse will lose hope and give up. There is nothing more depressing than when a loved one gives up on the other person.
- Practice coordinated weekly, monthly and yearly planning. Our best time to coordinate our calendars is Sunday afternoons when we are spiritually and physically well fed. Sit together and go over the week calendar in specifics and the monthly in general. Begin with asking your spouse what is on their schedule for the week. I place her activities on my calendar and then detail out what is on my schedule. If we have a time or place challenge then we talk about it and try to resolve them.
Once the week is covered, go over any important family things or any extraordinarily events for the balance of the month. Also, make annual goals and plan vacations prior to the end of the year for the coming year. List birthdays, anniversaries, known work trips, and vacation days prior to entering the New Year. Establish goals together. Make priorities and then assess our progress monthly. For me, if I miss the mark, at least I am not more than one month off.
- Commit to listening to each other’s heart. When our emotions elevate, generally our intellect descends. Accordingly, do not camp on any word your spouse says. No more, “You said...” When they speak, listen to what they are trying to say. For clarification purposes, repeat back to them what you heard their heart say. Let them correct, modify or confirm your stated understanding. Yes, conversations may take longer to get to this place of understanding, but if you both understand one another well, I have found that this is a lot shorter than the time needed to recover and be forgiven by our insensitivity or misunderstandings. The aftermath of not fully understanding one another typically lingers on for hours or days and generally renders us less effective with the remaining activities of the day, especially at work. I am confident that an owner upset by conflict at home is less effective, less creative and less enjoyable to be around than an interpersonally fulfilled business owner.
- Find out the things for which you need to ask forgiveness, then ask for it. There are many important, even transformational things that happen when you ask your spouse for forgiveness. There are things that you will know to be obvious (i.e., your impatience, temper, insensitivity, etc.) and there may be things that are not so obvious. Find a time and place to ask these questions. Be prepared for an emotional shut down (hurt lingers and hurt builds up and can encrust the heart), or on the other side, your question may be an opening that they have longed for and you may well be caught completely off guard (when a dam breaks, the downhill lie generally gets overrun). Accordingly, you need to be emotionally prepared for a direct hit, or a sideswipe. If you ask and want reconciliation and relational intimacy, then you need to be ready for almost anything. Your job is to listen and continue to make things “right.” There are lots of good Bible verses and principles you need to consider when going forward. Please be prepared for major conflict and growth with this one.
- Declare to your spouse that your goal is to “Cherish” them daily. You want to do so, but sometimes we are a bit incomplete and need their help. Set up time once a week to go over how well you did this past week in cherishing them. Ask them when they did and did not feel cherished. Ask them what can you do to make things even better? Tell them how important it is for you to have an intimate relationship with them right now and for the balance of your life together. Tell them that nothing is more important to you, and that together you can build a great, healthy and loving relationship for the entire "fourth chapter". Ask your spouse to pray for you. Confirm with them that you know you are “all screwed up and dysfunctional” yet you are committed to loving them as Christ loved the Church. Make sure you communicate that you are willing die for them. They are God’s gift to you and you want to be a good steward of what God gave you.
Darrell, you've got to be kidding yourself, because I do not think this is possible?
Without a doubt, what I have suggested is one very difficult challenge. In fact, a famous military commander said that it was easier for him to go into battle that for him to talk to his wife about meeting her needs. God designed the family to be the primary support system during our life. We can have it all if we are willing to be transparent, vulnerable, and authentic, or TVA for short. Most husbands (and many wives) fear those letters more than they do the IRS.
Begin with praying for courage. The apostle Paul wrote that, “God gave us not the spirit of timidly but the spirit of power and love and of self control.” Let us all take that to the bank. With the power of the Holy Spirit, godly peers, professional support, and the confidence of that and other scriptures, we can develop a heavenly relationship with our spouse while on earth. I love what Rick Warren once said: “That our life on earth is a dress rehearsal for eternity.” For the sake of our Heavenly Father, our spouse, our children, our grandchildren, for our employees, our customers, our vendors, our neighbors, and anyone else who we interact with, this should be our aim, our goal, or commitment.
By doing so, the story will have a happy ending and the good guy will indeed "get the girl."
Lord be with you,