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Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Help your spouse find security in your love by caring about the things they care about.
In my last post I emphasized the importance of accepting your spouse for who they are. According to the great new marriage book, Grace Filled Marriage by Dr. Tim Kimmel, this is step one of helping your spouse be secure in your love.
Today we're going one better. Not just accepting who they are, but actually embracing and celebrating it by caring about the things that matter to him or her. This is number two of Dr. Kimmel's keys to security in love. (We'll get to number three next time.)
When you begin to fully embrace the notion that you and your spouse are one, you learn how important it is to care about the things that matter to each other.
One But Not the Same
I, for one, am thankful NOT to be married to someone who is just like me! In marriage, you and your spouse are one, but of course oneness does not mean sameness.
Even though you and your spouse are likely very different, with different love languages, different personalities, different family histories and different key needs, it is important that you "get" each other. What I mean by that is, if you want your spouse to feel loved, you should learn the things that matter to him or her and do them.
Dr. Kimmel calls this "having a strong affiliation with their heart."
And I don't mean do these things out a sense of obligation or because you know it's the right thing to do. I mean do them because you want your spouse to feel loved and to feel secure and confident in your love. That means that you know who they are, that you love who they are, and out of that understanding, that you do the things that are important to him or her.
Caring and Doing
It's good when you say to your spouse, "I care about the things you care about." Caring is important, but it has to show up in what you do. Jesus explained it to his disciples this way:
As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.
John 15:9-13 (NKJV)
If you read the broader context of John 15-17, and if you understand that the "commandments" Jesus was talking about are not a bunch of rules and religion, but a relationship (John 15 is all about abiding in Jesus), then you understand that what he was saying is, "If you love me, you'll care about things I care about, and it'll show up in what you do."
The corresponding marriage truth is that it's important for you and your spouse to live your lives fully integrated, as one, and not on separate, parallel tracks. It means caring about and fully engaging yourself in the things that are important to your spouse.
By talking about showing an interest in the things that matter to your spouse, I'm not proposing that you and your spouse do everything together. That would actually be unhealthy. I believe you need to have some separate interests.
At the same time, however, you want to make an effort to show interest in the important stuff, the stuff that goes to the core of who your spouse is and what they enjoy. You need to step outside your own comfort zone and move toward your spouse in these things.
Still not clear? Let me give you two examples from my own marriage to illustrate the point.
Mountains and Oceans
I've always been a mountains person. There's something about being in the mountains that feeds my soul. The beauty, the majesty, the quiet, all do wonders for me.
Jenni, my wife, has always been a beach person. Summer beach trips have been a part of her life every year since infancy. She takes on a whole different demeanor when she is near the ocean. A kind of happy calm settles over her, much like what happens to me in the mountains.
We could have handled this key difference one of several ways. We could have done separate vacations, so that we both got to do what we wanted. We could have reluctantly accommodated each others preferences, but still neglected to fully embrace this key difference in our desires. This would have probably have included each of us lobbying for our own way, occasionally giving in with a rolling of the eyes and deep sighs of disappointment.
Instead, we learned to celebrate the difference by appreciating the way in which these different venues feed each others' souls. I have come to love the beach, though probably not as much as Jenni does, because I see how good it is for her, and I have been able to share in the value she gets from it. The same is true of Jenni and the mountains. We both love doing both, because we value each other's hearts.
Not So Black and White
Jenni is a huge movie fan. Specifically, she loves old movies - really old movies. In her book, a movie gets bonus points if it's in black and white (okay, slight exaggeration). She seems to know all the old stars and what movies they appeared in.
All of this is lost on me. Honestly, I don't get the attraction.
But once in a while, I'll join her for an old movie so we can spend some time together. It's always good for a few hours of snuggling together on the couch.
Jenni will ask after a movie, "Did you enjoy it?" I often say, in all honesty, "I enjoyed seeing you enjoy it." What I mean by that is that I appreciate it as a value to her, and that's enough for me. And she does the same for my interest in history shows and documentaries.
There's one final component to this notion of having a strong affiliation of your spouse's heart. Dr. Kimmel puts it succinctly in the following passage from the book:
Before I leave this point, let me mention a word you’ll need if you want to build a secure love into your spouse. Honor. This word speaks of the high value you place on the other person. One of the ways you value your spouse is by being interested in the things that interest them. You notice. You care. Honor is also about empathy. When you honor your spouse, you value your spouse so much that you can’t contain the “woo-hoos!” on their behalf in victory and you likewise hurt deeply with them in defeat. (p. 71)
Of your spouse's many interests and attributes, which have you learned to embrace and celebrate even they may not be your "thing" by nature? Leave a comment!
photo credit: original photos S. Means
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