A Time For Everything

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailYou will find quite a list concerning time in Ecclesiastes 3. Take a few minutes to read it.

Consider these:

A time to Heal
A time to Build up
A time to Laugh
A time to Dance
A time to Plant
A time to Embrace
A time to Keep
A time to Mend
A time to be Silent
A time to Speak
A time to Love

 

How have you been using your time in relationship to your marriage? For many of us our relationship with our spouse gets the left overs.

We get it that we have to go to work and pay the bills and do the laundry and take care of the kids and fix the broken things around the house and mow the lawn and… and… and… The list has no end. There is always another item to add to the over-filled list.

Somehow, we accomplish so much but we are exhausted. Our spouse is exhausted. And when we find a few minutes here and there to give, we are emotionally empty and have little left for the most important person in our life. Leftovers!

How does this happen?

In Ephesians 3:15-16 we are admonished to

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity.

Sometimes we let others set our priorities for how we spend our time. Begin to make the most of your time by setting your own priorities and limits. If you are pulled in many directions by your boss, or friends, ex, children, and extended family, then take time to consider your priorities and honestly assess how much quality time you are spending together with your spouse. Maybe you could set some limits so that your spouse gets more than just the leftovers. Be intentional with your use of time.

So, what about it? Want a better relationship? Look at the next three or four weeks and plan what days and times you will set aside for each other. Then, and this can be a little tough, especially for the hyper busy among us, set aside a weekend away together. No kids, no phones, no laptops, no leftovers. A full meal deal, so to speak!

Yes, a real getaway!  And here’s your   To Do List:

♥  a time to laugh

Photo by John Nyberg♥  a time to build up

♥  a time to dance

♥  a time to embrace

♥  a time to love

It Only Takes 5 Minutes

Sometimes when time is short we tend to focus on the urgent tasks and not on our loved ones.  But being busy isn’t an excuse to ignore our spouse.  He or she is just as important to us in busy times and really, when aren’t we busy?  If it is a chronic state for you, then it is crucial for you to think of some easy  and quick ways to show  your spouse you cherish him!

Here are some fun things you can do:

  • Going to the grocery today?  Walk through the bakery section to pick up a cupcake, a chocolate éclair, or something else your spouse likes. Share it after the kids go down.  Make sure to tell him why he’s getting treated.
  • When he is at the desk doing the bills give him a quick neck rub because you appreciate his efforts.
  • Make a big sign (the bigger the better) and hang it up in front of where he parks his car at home.  Say something endearing, like you’re glad he’s home.
  • Text him or leave a voice message during the day saying how you miss him.
  • Send him a love note in the mail to his place of employment.  Your perfume on the envelope is good!
  • Make a coupon for something he really likes, a massage, back itching, favorite dinner, or intimate activities. You know what he likes!  Be creative, but no expiration date…

None of these things take more than 5 minutes, yet they will speak volumes about your love and affection.  The fact that you took time and effort to think of your spouse during your busy day will confirm to him that he is important to you and everyone craves that feeling of being cherished.

So put your spouse on your task list and make him an “A” priority!

Just What the Doctor Ordered, Part 2

Last time we looked into the prescription for a superb marriage as presented by Ed Wheat, M.D. in his book Love Life For Every Married Couple.  His prescription calls for four therapeutic activities to enhance your relationship with your spouse and get the B.  E.  S.  T.  results.  Here they are:

Blessing, Edifying, Sharing,    Touching.

 

Let take a look at the last two, again with my editorial comments:

  • Sharing – We are reminded here that we are to share our lives.  A growing thriving relationship is built up when we do things together.  We can share our time, our interests, and hobbies.  We also should share our deepest concerns and fears.  Our spouse should be our closest friend and confidant, someone who knows deeply our innermost emotional, physical and spiritual needs and desires.  This level of intimacy only happens in an open and honest relationship that strives for ways to selflessly serve one another.  Why is selfless serving so important?  If your relationship is built upon each partner trying to get his or her needs met in a selfish demand context, then the very nature of sharing will be based upon “What can I get out of this?”  But when we build our relationship around serving one another, then our shared experiences can be enriched by knowing that our spouse is lovingly seeking to serve us.  By contrast, a dysfunctional relationship will have each spouse pursuing self-interests at the expense of a shared context.  This is what can be referred to as the “roommate relationship.”  You share the same living space you just don’t share your lives.
  • Touching – Physical touch is a cornerstone need for every human being.  We all long for the emotional connection of touch.  A gentle touch of the hand says, without a word, that we care.  We can communicate comfort, calm fears, and soothe pain.  A superb marriage will have daily doses of comforting and heartwarming non-sexual touch.  Holding hands while on a walk.  A gentle neck rub.  A soft touch of the cheek before a good morning kiss.  These forms of touch are especially important to women who often feel that men only touch in a sexual context.  Women generally appreciate the simple cuddling, snuggling, and soft gentle touches.  These touches warm the heart and emotions.  And when we are emotionally open and satisfied, we can enjoy the beauty of the more intimate touching between spouses.  Be generous with your touches.  This is clearly the most intimate way of having a shared life.  The dysfunctional couple will withhold touching as a sort of blackmail to get what they want driving a wedge into the relationship.  Selfishness is usually the culprit behind withholding physical touch.  Touch selflessly and generously and you will enjoy a deep and truly blessed relationship.

The B  E  S  T  prescription:   Blessing – Edifying  –  Sharing  –  Touching!  The good doctor has spoken.

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!

Making It Count

Last week we watched the movie Titanic with Leonardo DiCaprio.  It was 100 years ago today that the Titanic sank!  In the movie, at the formal dinner, Jack describes the freedom he has in his life and concludes his philosophical monologue with a toast.  As he raises his glass of champagne, he says “To Making it Count”.

Each of us has a chance every day, a choice actually, to Make it Count.  Our days are busy and the schedule is usually full with work, meetings, the usual chores, bills, and taking care of the kids.  But what are we doing each day to Make it Count with our spouse?  To Make it Count we need to be intentional and not simply reactionary.  We must choose to make it a priority to think about those special things that will make our spouse feel loved and cherished and that they truly are the most important person in our life.

I’d like to address the husbands.  All too often we husbands are short on words and many times short on actions.  We get caught in the trap of taking for granted things around the house and in our lives.  We expect our home to be well cared for, dinner to be ready, the clothes washed.  And when things are expected, they are usually not appreciated.  It’s time to Make it Count.  This week I want you husbands to put into practice three simple steps to make your wife know she is appreciated.  I want you to: Write It, to Say It, and finally to Do It.

First of all, take some time and reflect on all the things that you are really thankful for about your wife.  Let your mind reflect on even the simplest things that she says or does.  It could be something about her kindness,  thoughtfulness, or her generosity.  Then write her a note expressing three of the things that you really appreciate about her.  Give her the note before bedtime and let her know you love her.  Your wife will probably love getting a special note from you.  Somehow when it’s in writing, it speaks to her heart.

Later this week I want each of you to think of three of your favorite dating memories.  And again, before you go to sleep one evening while she’s lying next to you, tell her that you wanted to share your special memories and why those times have made you love her so much.  Just hearing you verbalize this to her will warm her heart.

And finally, you need to just Do It.  Find those special things that she loves so much and take the time to make her feel cherished.  For my wife, a twenty minute foot massage is just about the best thing ever.  Maybe it is flowers, accomplishing something on her honey-do list, or a dinner out with you.  Better yet, dinner in and you are the cook!  Find that unique thing your wife loves and just Do It.

That’s it, guys.  Write It, Say It, and Do It.  Make it Count this week.

Keeping Your Spouse’s Tank Full

Last time we looked at the comparison between our emotional lives and an empty gas tank.  We all know when our gas tank is near empty, we need to fill up, or else we can look forward to a long walk or a long wait, even if we do have AAA.  We have common sense enough to know it’s foolish to let our gas tank get to empty.

How can we apply that same common sense to the “emotional tank” of our spouse?  Here’s where personal growth comes in.  We first need to be skilled at recognizing his or her condition.  This usually doesn’t take an expert, just an observant spouse.  Marriage is like a classroom and we are all in school every day.  Lesson plan number one:  Learn your spouse’s idiosyncrasies.  Become a student of what makes him or her tick.

There are two books that speak directly to the needs of husbands and wives, some of which they share.  In His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage by Willard F. Harley, Jr. the needs are broken down into five common needs for men and five for women.  In The 5 Love Needs of Men and Women, Dr. Gary and Barbara Rosberg address the five love needs of husbands and wives.  Some of these needs include:

  •   Unconditional Love
  •   Commitment
  •   Companionship
  •   Emotional Intimacy
  •   Communication
  •   Admiration
  •   Affection
  •   Honesty
  •   Financial Support
  •   Sexual Intimacy

Recognize that you are the person uniquely positioned to meet those needs.  When you meet those needs, your spouse’s emotional tank is more than likely at or near full and they can better respond to you and your needs.  Water your spouse so they can be strengthened to water you.

 Here are a few practical ideas that you can work with to better understand your spouse’s needs:

  1. Ask.  Yes, ask your spouse what makes them feel loved in various circumstances.  This is a great topic for a date night.  What are the FIVE keys ways that I can best show my love for you?  Be specific.  “I really feel loved and appreciated when you _____________.”
  2. Discover, by asking and observing, the kinds of comments and actions that de-energize your spouse.  Change how you respond to avoid emptying your spouse’s tank.
  3. Read up on it.  Become a student of your spouse’s needs and then work on getting an “A” for the year.  Better yet, get a Master’s Degree.  One of the books we’ve read says that if you don’t work at meeting their needs, someone else might.

Do it. Just do it. Not just when you feel like it.  Not when the time is right. Don’t wait for a full moon.  Just do it.  Today. Tomorrow.  And the next Day.  Selfless lovers understand giving and receiving.  Be a giver and your well-loved spouse will see that you are a receiver.