By Dennis Rainey
Ok, let’s get this out of the way from the start: Valentine’s Day has been totally commercialized. But as we edge closer to it, I’ve been thinking that V-day is actually a pretty good time to evaluate how we show our spouses that we love them, care for them and want to honor them. Without the romantic investments/gifts of love letters, experiences, and some Dove dark chocolate, a marriage can be destined to a death-spiral like the poem below, given to me over a quarter century ago without an author to attribute it to …
Their wedding picture mocked them from the table, these two,
whose minds no longer touched each other.
They lived with such a heavy barricade between them that
neither battering ram of words, nor artilleries of touch could
break it down.
Somewhere, between the oldest child’s first tooth and the
youngest daughter’s graduation, they lost each other.
Throughout the years, each slowly unraveled that tangled ball
of string called self, and as they tugged at stubborn knots
each hid his searching from the other.
Sometimes she cried at night and begged the whispering
darkness to tell her who she was.
He lay beside her, snoring like a hibernating bear, unaware of
Once, after they had made love, he wanted to tell her how
afraid he was of dying but, fearing to show his naked soul,
he spoke instead of the beauty of her breasts.
She took a course in modern art, trying to find herself in colors
splashed upon a canvas, and complaining to other women
about men who were insensitive.
He climbed into a tomb called “the office,” wrapped his mind in
a shroud of paper figures, and buried himself in customers.
Slowly, the wall between them rose, cemented by the mortar
One day, reaching out to touch each other, they found a barrier
they could not penetrate, and recoiling from the coldness
of the stone, each retreated from the stranger on the
For when love dies, it is not in a moment of angry battle,
nor when fiery bodies lose their heat.
It lies panting, exhausted, expiring at the bottom of a wall it
could not scale.
Man didn’t create romance. God did.
In fact, God penned some of the most poetic descriptions about romantic love in the Song of Solomon, found in His bestseller of all time, the Bible. If you haven’t read The Song of Solomon recently, may I invite you to read it’s 8 chapters?
God isn’t blushing about marital romantic love. Romance was created by God to defeat the deadly, gravitational pull of isolation between a husband and wife.
Romancing your husband is an important issue. It isn’t the foundation of your marriage (you’ll find God’s prescribed foundation in Matthew 7:24-27), but romance is the fire in the fireplace, the glow and warmth of mutual affection that urge a husband and wife to merge and become one with one another.
My blog a week ago, “What Wives or Girlfriends Wish their Husbands/Boyfriends would give them for Valentine’s Day,” pointed out that women spell romance … R E L A T I O N S H I P … and men spell it S E X! Our differences aren’t wrong, they are given by God to grow new capacities in our lives.
Before going further, I know that mentioning the sexual dimension of the marriage relationship elicits all kinds of responses from wives. Sexually speaking we live in a broken world that has impacted women and men in various ways … my friend Dr. Dan Allender has said, “Sexual abuse is the hardest stone the devil of hell throws at a human being.” Its impact can last for a lifetime. Porn twists a man’s view of sex and impacts his wife as well. There are wives who try to meet their husband’s needs and they are repeatedly rejected. Some wives can’t keep up with their husband’s desires, feel guilty and begin to shut down after a few years of marriage. There’s “Low Sex Marriages” and “NO Sex Marriages.” There’s promiscuity before marriage and affairs after marriage. And deep dark places in some lives that are unimaginable.
We are all damaged by our selfish choices and actions of others … we need this area of our lives to be redeemed. It is within marriage and a lifetime of love that this redemptive process can grow and transform you and your spouse into trophies of God’s grace. May I encourage you to continue to cry out to God to be at work in your life and marriage.
This week I’ll be sharing six thoughts for wives about how they can communicate their love and “romance their husbands.” Read these carefully and pick one or two that you can begin to excel in now and over the next 12 months.
1. Catch the little foxes.
In the second chapter of The Song of Solomon, the bride implores her husband to “Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom” (2:15). The vines were trying to blossom and grow delicious fruit, but these little critters were nipping the buds before they could be pollinated and grow fruit. The same thing that was happening in the vineyard was also happening in their marriage.
Passion was being nipped in the bud.
Ladies, are you growing “fruit” in your marriage? If not, perhaps you need to observe the “little foxes” that are stealing your romance before it has a chance to blossom? Perhaps it’s time for you to go on a lifelong “marital mission” of ensnaring the enemies that prevent you both from experiencing a romantically fruitful marriage. Here’s a partial list of some foxes that we’ve “caught and released:”
· Children! One beleaguered wife wrote Barbara and me saying it clearly, “Our romance gave us our children and now our children are stealing our romance.” Children can go to bed early. Don’t go out to eat, stay home and bring in carryout from your favorite restraint. Have dinner in your bedroom and tell the kids to stay in their rooms!
· Indifference and passivity. One of the challenges in marriages today is the “Low Sex/No Sex” marriage. One or both has given up. If this describes your relationship, perhaps it’s time for you to get purposeful about passion and romance in your marriage. Your romance can rescue you from toxic self-absorption. You two need to be together. And if all else fails, consider seeing a counselor if he’ll agree to go talk to one. And pray for yourself and him.
· Exhaustion. Mothers are the hardest workers I know. Consider finding a way to take a nap. Go to bed early and lure him to follow. Or let the dishes go for night or ask him to tidy up so you can be up for him. Hey, it’s Valentines!
· No margin in the schedule for the two of you to connect. You can maintain a driven lifestyle for a season, but NOT all four seasons. Review all that you two and your kids are committed to. Then begin to eliminate distractions and put the mobile devices and remote control down. Give you and your hubby room to breathe. Go for a walk, do some gardening together, go out for a cup of coffee on Saturday … just the two of you.
· Unresolved hurts and wounds. Our marriages of 10, 20, 30 or more years can have a lot of human debris and left unresolved it can turn hurt into a bitter, toxic waste dump. If appropriate, confess that you’re struggling with becoming critical and if appropriate ask him to forgive you for becoming bitter. Romance can’t flourish in the polluted soil of your heart.
WARNING: Over time, foxes do not become extinct. We are moving toward our fifth decade of marriage and we are finding that foxes morph and evolve. Exterminate some foxes and enjoy the fruit.
2. Ask him a question or two and listen carefully to his answers.
Ask him, “What have been the three most romantic times we’ve had together? What made them so romantic?”
Ask him, “What can I do as your wife to create a more romantic marriage? What would you really like?”
Listen to his answers. What is he saying? Not saying? Ask God to help you communicate love, patience and romance in your husband’s language. Pull out your calendar and start by marking down some dates and experiences when you can clearly speak his love language.
3. He wants to be desired by his wife.
So when was the last time you flirted with your husband? Locked your eyes on him, took his face in your hands, and planted one on him? Really turned it on? Or have you forgotten how to flirt?
Flirting in marriage is legal!
When was the last time you used your sexual power to lure him away from his mobile device or the sporting event on TV to be with you? Although Proverbs 5-7 is a father’s warning to his son about the illicit power of women who are aggressive, it’s only wrong because she’s a woman of the streets and not his wife. Become a God-authorized powerful magnet to your husband.
If you are reticent … Do you know why? There are likely good reasons that need to be unpacked with the help of a counselor.
4. He wants to be respected, honored and affirmed by his wife.
Ephesians 5:33 instructs husbands and wives, “However, let each of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”
Do you know what communicates respect to your husband? How about a handwritten love letter that you read to him expressing appreciation for his positive qualities? Try bragging, not ragging, on him verbally. Someone has said, “Praise owes it value due to its scarcity.”
Honor him …
… by speaking with respect to him.
… for being a man of integrity.
… by thanking him for helping with chores or putting the kids to bed or taking the family out to eat.
I don’t think you can over-do communicating respect to him.
How about affirming him …
… for making a good decision.
… for providing for you and your family.
… the next time you make love for loving you well and being a great lover.
5. Give him the gift of your affection.
Hold his hand.
Put your hand on his knee. Maybe you haven’t done that recently … it’s okay!
Resist passivity. The easiest thing to do is nothing. Thinking about doing something and NOT doing it doesn’t count.
Playfully rub his neck and shoulders while talking on the couch.
Put his feet in your lap and give him a really good foot massage while he watches a movie.
Give him a back massage while you talk.
It’s best to communicate with kind words and physical affection, then just kind words alone.
6. He wants intrigue, adventure, and creativity with his wife.
Did you know there is an actual belt around the globe, five degrees north and south of the equator, called the “doldrums”? It wraps its way around the globe and is known for weeks with no wind. It’s dangerous for sailboats without engines. They can get trapped in the doldrums for over a month.
Marriages of any length will encounter periods of no wind in their sails. No romance. Sameness. Suffering. No fun. Ground hog day over and over. I’m reminded of a great quote by an English theologian, Oswald Chambers:
“Human nature, if it is healthy, demands excitement, and if it does not obtain it’s thrilling excitement in the right way, it will seek it in the wrong. God never makes bloodless stoics; He makes passionate saints!”
What to do? Well, it’s not the cure for every malady in marriage, but a few surprises along the way and some fun never hurt anyone.
Now read chapter seven in Song of Solomon and note how King Solomon’s wife used anticipation with him. Anticipation is a powerful force for good in the life of your husband.
Can you imagine King Solomon coming home from a hard day at work on the throne and finding Song of Solomon 7:9-13 on a post-it-note? It describes a vineyard picnic like none he’d ever been on before. Notice that she not only says, “There I will give you my love,” but also has stored up for him “New as well as old.” She didn’t allow marriage to rob them of their romance, creativity, and fresh sparks.
I know its winter right now. You are innovative. Valentines is around the corner. You’ll figure it out. And he will be glad.
Song of Solomon 4:7-11
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Creating a More Romantic Marriage
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