The Affection Connection

Did you see one of the latest videos that hit the internet?? Check this one out:

Who said romance is dead? This video was viewed 60 MILLION times!

Bernie Mills, 80, was caught on camera waiting for his wife, Carol, 75, at Los Angeles International Airport.  When he saw her, he broke out into a smile, gave her flowers, a hug, and a kiss. The couple met on eHarmony after their spouses of 50 years died and have been married to each other  about 5 years.

Did you see it?? OK, You’re right. I’m a big mush. But I guess I’m not alone… 60 MILLION other people wanted to see this one touching video of an old guy being affectionate, at the airport, in public, in broad daylight, and he doesn’t seem to care that anyone else is looking. Yep. They call it PDA… Public displays of affection.

So what about you?? Do you ever get all squishy in public and show your spouse that they’re the best thing in your life and you can’t live without them? I know, maybe the “in public thing” is just not your style. What about at home, when no one is looking? Do you get affectionate then?

Do you know what kinds of affectionate things your spouse likes? Think about it. Some like holding hands. Others appreciate a handwritten note expressing some endearing thoughts. Or a spontaneous neck rub or foot massage. Even just a couple of scratches on an itchy back. Bringing home a few flowers, even free wild flowers that you picked next to the parking lot at work (for those of you who need to do romance on a budget). What about it? What does your spouse like? What would make him or her smile. What would make them happy that you thought of them?

And how often should you do these squishy endearing romantic little gestures? How about every day!!! You can easily stoke the fire of your love for each other by just doing a few little affectionate things on a regular basis. Make a habit of it.

Little gestures of your love for your spouse let them know that to you, they’re really special and you want to have that one to one connection. You really do care about them and you enjoy making them happy.  To be cherished in this way can make a huge difference in your spouse’s psyche and their outlook on life.

So what about it? Are you ready to show your love? Who knows, maybe someday YOU’LL show up on a You Tube video and 60 million people will be inspired…..

Just What the Doctor Ordered

Many of have been to the Doctor’s office for one thing or another over the years.  We get a physical exam and we get poked and prodded here and there.  On occasion, we leave with a prescription for just the right medication that will fix what ails us.  Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could get a Doctor’s prescription for our marriage, some practical advice to apply on a daily basis that would help us to be close to our spouse, something that would provide the basic ground rules to get us to the happily ever after part?  I checked my book shelf and guess what?  The Doctor is in!

In his book Love Life  For Every Married Couple, Ed Wheat, M.D. set out four basic principles that will enable us to have a superb marriage.  Sounds like a great idea, right?  A superb marriage.  Fortunately, this author has simplified the process for us.  As a matter of fact, he has reduced the complexities of having a fulfilling love life to four simple actions.  Let’s take a look at what the good doctor has to say, with my editorial comments, of course.

Here is his B.  E.  S.  T. prescription:

  • Blessing – Our words, what we say and how we say it, set a tone for our relationship.  We can be totally in control of what we say.  We are reminded from scripture that we should not let any unwholesome word proceed out of our mouths but only such a word that edifies the listener.  We should speak well of our spouse even when we are confronted with harsh words that are critical and even insulting.  You can also bless with acts of kindness, thoughtfulness, and appreciation.  Dr. Wheat reminds us to be a blessing by praying for our spouse.  In thought, word, and in deed, be a blessing to your beloved.
  • Edifying – Here we are told that it is essential to lift one another up.  This concept can best be understood in the context of cheerleader.  You need to be the most supportive and positive person to your spouse.  Notice their every success and build their self-worth.  You are the voice that says “I believe in you” and “You can do it.”  You are vigilant to look for things for which you can praise your spouse, and things that make you thankful.  And you are generous with your verbal expression of that praise.  We need to be thoughtful about what we speak and ask ourselves, “Does this build up, or tear down?  What can I say that will encourage, strengthen and build up my spouse?”  The Doctor reminds wives to show respect and esteem their husbands and affirm and appreciate them.

Stay tuned.  Next time we’ll look further into the Doctor’s prescription.

More Making It Count

So ladies, now it is time for us to make it count!

Did your husband ever do or say something that really made you feel special?  To have his undivided loving attention is like a refreshing shower, energizing your whole being. I bet you felt important to him, indispensable and cherished.  And you probably really liked that feeling!

So it is not hard to imagine that your husband would like to feel special too… that he is your hero, and you admire and respect him for his qualities.  Making each other feel cherished adds to the positive relational bank account that protects our marriages from the effects of negative, draining interactions that happen every now and then.

One major hindrance is busyness.  When I am working my way through an endless task list to keep the house running efficiently or get ready for an event, I tend to put relational needs on the back burner.  A few years into our marriage, Alan challenged me to think about putting him on my task list!  That was a big wake up call for me—just because there are tasks to be done doesn’t mean the people in our lives can be put on hold.  Tasks can wait.

We need to have an attitude of gratitude also.  Discontent saps our ability to see the positive in our husbands and the circumstances we’re in, causing a negative focus.  When we are thankful we are able to see what is good and true about people and situations.

So armed and motivated to make it count, what do we do?  Here are some suggestions:

  1. Every man wants to be admired, especially by his wife!  Verbalize what you like about his character, his body, what a leader or father he is, and the good work he does.  It costs nothing and your man needs positive affirmations from you.  Most men don’t know what you think unless you tell him, so say it, on a regular basis!
  2. What kind of affectionate touch does your husband like?  Maybe he likes to be massaged or scratched on his back, or neck.  Or a hug and kiss with a whispered promise for more later! Spontaneous touching is soothing and conveys love and acceptance.
  3. Write your husband a note now and then, expressing something you are thankful for about him.  Give it to him in his lunch or mail to his office.
  4. Pray for him.  He may not know it but what better way to support him in all he does than to bring him before the Lord daily.  It will help him and keep you thankful and humble also.

It is not very time consuming to give a hug or tell your husband he’s an incredible father.  If you have a hard time doing it, search your heart for resentment, ingratitude, or selfishness that causes you to withhold positive affirmations.  Pray about it.  Ask Jesus to reveal what holds you back and to help you break through.  Your own personal growth will contribute so much to your marriage.

 Remember it takes 5 positive deposits to your relational bank account to counteract 1 negative withdrawal.  Keep adding deposits, every day, and you will be making it count!

I Don’t Feel Like It

Well, there they are – those famous five words – “I don’t feel like it”.  You’ve thought those very words many times before and being honest, you’d have to admit you have spoken them to your spouse at times when faced with the need to selflessly serve your spouse.  They are at the heart of what drives a wedge between us and our spouse.  They embody the essence of being focused on self and they center around our very illusive “feelings”.

Why do we struggle with Jesus’ exhortation in John 15:12, “…Love each other as I have loved you”.  May I suggest we struggle because we are faced with the pressure to feed “self;” this is what I want and this is what I need.  Not only are we feeding our needs and wants, we are driven by our feelings.  These can be feelings of fairness, injustice or anger and resentment.  When we mix a focus on self with our ever changing feelings, we have a recipe for a dysfunctional relationship.

This is a hard message.  It’s hard because it causes us to look inward, to examine our heart and motives.  In Ephesians 5:25 husbands are commanded to “love your wives just as Christ loved the church”.  Note that this was a command to obey.  It didn’t say to “feel love for your wives” but rather it commands husbands to “love your wives”.  A command.  Nothing is mentioned about if she deserves love because this is unconditional love.  Jesus says again in John 15:17 “this is my command: Love each other”.  Further in Luke 6:35, “But Love your enemies, do good to them…”  We probably don’t  have all warm and fuzzy feelings towards our enemies but we are nevertheless commanded to love them.  Love in this context is an action.  We are to act lovingly, in spite of our feelings, our personal agenda or the actions of our spouse.

So how does this relate to you and your spouse?  Remember that we talked about watering often and filling your spouse’s emotional tank.  Well, that can be very hard to do if we are consumed with and focused on ourselves, thinking… But what about me?  What about my needs?  When do I get what I want?   And then our feelings kick in as we remember prior hurts and resentments.  Yes, it’s hard to love unconditionally.

But think about this:  How does a wife feel when she is loved unconditionally?  How does a husband feel when he is loved by his wife even though he struggles with numerous shortcoming and failings?  In those moments when they experience that unconditional love from their spouse, in that moment they experience the love of Christ, coming from and through their spouse.  They experience the touch of Jesus in their lives.

When you are tempted to say to yourself, “But I don’t feel like it,” remember that He died for us and I’m quite sure that He didn’t feel like it.  So, love, and love unconditionally, and soon by the grace of God, you will feel like it.

 

Why Water Often?

In our previous blog “Water Often” we discussed the importance of nurturing your spouse by making sure that you provide for them daily, much like a plant needs water to survive.  But why it is so important to provide that on a daily basis?  Why is it needed?

All of you engineer types will really like this:  Our relationships can be impacted with two types of charges – positive charges or negative charges.  When we do or say things that convey love, support, and encouragement, those are positive charges that energize the relationship in a positive way.  When we say or do things that belittle each other or make hurtful comments, those are negative charges that harm the relationship and decrease our connection.

So if I make one unkind, thoughtless comment to my wife, I only need to make one kind comment and she’ll be fine, right?  One act of kindness balances the effects of one unkind act; that sounds logical.  NOT!!!

In his book Why Marriages Succeed or Fail, John Gottman, professor of psychology at the University of Washington, tells us that it takes FIVE positive actions/interactions to overcome the effect of ONE negative interaction.  From his findings we can see that it is not a one to one ratio.

Think about it from your own personal experience.  Think back to a time when someone made a particularly negative remark to you.  It may have been when you were in school, or perhaps it was something one of your parents said to you.  As you reflect on it I’m sure that you will remember how much it hurt you.  Certainly, one positive comment would not begin to outweigh the deep hurt that you felt.  Even if the person apologized and asked for forgiveness, it didn’t immediately take away the pain that you felt.  Reflect on these:

  •   1 Thessalonians 5:15 “…but always try to be kind to each other…”
  •    2 Timothy 2:24 “… (he) must not quarrel; instead he must be kind to everyone…”
  •    1 Corinthians 13:4-5 “Love is patient, love is kind… It is not self-seeking…  It keeps no record of  wrongs…”

Many authors in their books on marriage refer to this dynamic being like a bank account.  You need to continually make deposits in order to keep a positive balance.  If all you make are withdrawals, you will soon overdraw your account.  To complete the analogy, you will need to make at least five deposits for every withdrawal.

  • “You really look nice today” – Ding – Deposit.
  • “That was such a great dinner” – Ding – Deposit.
  • “I love spending time away with you” – Ding – Deposit.
  • “Thanks for taking care of me when I was sick. You’re the best nurse  ever” – Ding – Deposit.
  • “How come you never get the dishes done” – BONG – Withdrawal.  BIG withdrawal.

Remember that we all put our foot in our mouth occasionally.  Just remember to have plenty of positive deposits in the account so it is never empty.

And try to keep your foot out of your mouth!

Next time:  Some great ideas on how to have a full Bank Account

Water Often

Previously we spoke about your relationship being like a plant that needs water every day to flourish and stay green and beautiful.  Let’s expand upon that.

Let’s pretend that you and your spouse are like “people plants”.  You’re both standing in large pots with beautiful dark soil and you look like leafy green ivy growing strong and tall.  Each of you has a large watering can with a spout and your pots are close enough that you can reach over and water your spouse’s soil.  Now let’s further imagine that your watering can has the exact additives that your spouse’s plant needs to flourish, including the nitrogen, and the perfect dash of phosphate, potash, zinc and iron.  In other words, you have the perfect mixture of ingredients uniquely blended and balanced to make your spouse grow beautiful and strong and green.  The best looking spouse plant on the whole block.

What happens when we withhold water from a plant?  It begins to turn brown and the leaves begin to fall.  It becomes limp and weak.  Withholding nutrients will eventually cause the plant to die.  And remember this:  When you properly provide nutrients to your spouse, they then have the strength to be able to give back to you the nutrients that you need.  It’s a cycle – water them and they are strong enough to water you.

I believe that God wants each of us to have a watering pot uniquely blended with the exact nutrients and ingredients to enable our spouse to flourish, grow, and blossom.  We need to take seriously our responsibility to figure out what those unique things are that our spouse needs.  For example, the book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts by Gary Chapman talks about how each of us has a special love language.  We can express and receive love through quality time, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, or physical touch.  When you know which of these five love languages your spouse prefers, you can begin to express your love for them in their unique language.

Seek to understand your spouse.  Know what their particular needs are and what fills them with joy.  Does she prefer a red rose or help with the dishes?  Does he prefer to chat about his day when he comes home from work, or does he appreciate 15 – 20 minutes of quiet time to unwind?  How do you know?  You can know because you can ask.  Agree with your spouse to take a few minutes and write down ten things that your spouse could do on a daily or weekly basis that would make you feel really special.  “I really appreciate it when you_________. It makes me feel so loved by you”.  Discuss the lists with each other and really listen to your spouse.  You could also read The 5 Love Languages book together.  Work at it every day.  What can I do to bless you today?  After all, I love it when you get all green and leafy!!!

Say it Often

It’s been a fairly typical day at work.  The usual projects that needed to get done and emails answered, nothing too pressing.  When you get home you immediately notice the kids shoes are in a muddy heap by the front door.  The kitchen sink is filled with dishes and the kitchen table is covered with bags of groceries.  You put down the mail and go over to the family room for a moment of relaxation.  Grabbing the remote to catch up on the news you see the sofa covered with three baskets of laundry.  Your wife is just coming down the hall and the first thing you say is, “What have you been doing all day?  The place is a mess.”  No warm “Hello” or “How has your day been?” or “Can I help you with anything?”  Nope.  Just go for the jugular.  Assume the worst and point out the obvious.

Pause for a moment and picture the same getting home from work scenario.  But this time the house is neatly kept, the shoes are put away, the floor is clean, the groceries are put away and the sink has no dishes piled up. Your wife comes down the hall and you ask the same question that every man asks when he gets home, “What are we having for dinner?”  Not a word about how neat and clean the house is, or how wonderful and beautiful your wife looks.  Nope.  First things first.  What are we going to eat?

If we are honest, this sounds all too familiar.  Why is it that we are so quick to see the flaws and blurt out a rebuke or a harsh word, but we hardly ever notice when things are good and deliver a compliment?  We can be so quick to harshly remind him that his socks are on the floor AGAIN but do we remember to encourage him when he remembers where the hamper is?

There’s an old story about a wife who said that she wished that her husband would say more often that he loved her.  He replied, “When we got married I told you that I loved you.  If I change my mind, I’ll let you know.”  Hey Guys:  Let her know… and let her know often!!  Encourage her every day.  Look for things that you appreciate and verbalize it to your spouse.  Shower her with words of love and affirmation.  Your words will be like the cool water that a plant needs every day to flourish and stay green and beautiful.

In Hebrews 3:13 it says, “But encourage one another daily”.  In Ephesians 4:29 it says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but  only what is helpful for building each other up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”  Encouraging words are helpful and they build us up and they are just what we need.  Use them often.

Personal Growth item:  Work every day on being quick to compliment and slow to be critical.