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Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Your husband is not nearly as romantically challenged as you think!
I get it. Really, I do.
But it’s time to a take back Valentine’s Day.
Hallmark and FTD commercials notwithstanding, this day is really not about cards and flowers and chocolates (though for many of you that would probably be a step up).
No, this holiday is really about love, romantic love.
A Chance to Rekindle Romance
“But my husband is romantically inept,” I hear you saying.
It is probably true that many, if not most, husbands appear to their wives as somewhat challenged in the romance department. But I believe the problem isn’t romance per se. The problem is in the vast difference between what feels romantic to men as opposed to what feels romantic to women.
Yeah, it’s that ages-old differences thing again.
We men will try to give love and romance in the way we define it, as opposed to the way our wives do. When that doesn’t work (repeatedly, over years) we eventually conclude that we are romantically incapable, and we stop trying. Our wives sometimes contribute to this by either overtly stating it, or by their cool reactions to our ill-advised attempts at romance.
Rather than giving up on your man this Valentine’s Day, try to see it as is your chance to move things forward, romantically speaking, in your marriage.
Turn Around Your Expectations
Man-Up Monday post this week.)
As hard as it is, I’m encouraging to re-focus your expectations from what you might get from your husband this year to what you can give him.
Switch your attention from trying to teach your husband how to romance you to instead trying to learn how to best romance him.
You see, as I said, what feels romantic to you probably will not to him. You want his time and attention, a sense that you and your feelings matter, and to feel cared for. For him, those things probably will not do the trick.
Romance to him probably comes in completely different forms. Here are what I call the three A’s to romancing your husband:
- Admiration (of who he is) – Take a break from focusing on his inadequacies and shortcoming, and focus instead on his best qualities. Tell him WHY you love him. Believe with him in his dreams. Let him know that you see what’s inside of him, but also admire his physical appearance. He wants to know you are attracted to him.
- Appreciation (for what he’s done) – If your husband is like me, he thinks a lot about the balls that are dropping all around in his crazy life. Take a break from nagging him about what more he needs to be doing and instead thank him for what he is doing and has done. Genuine words of thanks do a lot more to spur him on than anything else.
- Affirmation (of his sexual nature) – You knew I’d get here eventually, didn’t you? Your husband wants you to affirm rather than shame or disregard him in this important area of your marriage. Understand that his desire for sex is actually a desire for intimacy with you. Don’t just tolerate his desires, but try to respond in kind. He wants to be wanted by you.
By asking you to focus on his romantic needs, I’m not telling you to settle for a husband who doesn’t know how to romance you the way you like. You should never give up on your desires for that. But I am saying that a man who is admired, appreciated and affirmed is much more likely to send a little romance back in your direction than a man who is starved for those things.
This Valentine’s Day think about how can incorporate the three A’s of husband-romance into it.
Do you have some specific suggestions for my readers on how they might show these things to their husbands? Leave a comment!
photo credit: auremar / 13rf.com
If you need some more ideas on how to romance your husband HIS way, check out my 14-day Intimacy Challenge for Wives. You can follow the daily links to do the Intimacy Challenge online on this page. Or you can get a convenient pdf of the challenge for free via email when you sign up for my Pathways monthly intimacy newsletter. (Hurry, though, the February edition is coming out in just a few days with lots more romantic ideas!) Sign up on my blog or right here:
Monday, January 28, 2013
A little more than two weeks to go. Do you have a plan?
You know what I'm talking about.
Are you one of those husbands who gets a mild panic attack when he thinks about Valentine’s Day? Or maybe you have decided V-Day is nothing more than a creation of crass commercialism, which you are not going to buy into. Perhaps you leave the romance department to your wife.
Whatever your stance, I’m going to challenge you to do something different this year.
I’m challenging you to man up and make a plan for Valentine’s Day.
A Plan Says I Care About You and Us
You want to hear a secret when it comes to romancing your wife? Lean in, let me whisper it to you, so your wife won’t overhear. It almost doesn’t matter what you do. That’s right, as long as it is clear to her that you put a lot into it and that you are excited about it, she will love it. No kidding.
Also, she will see it as you leading in your relationship’s emotional intimacy department. And your wife loves it when you lead.
Finally, taking the time and effort to plan something special tells her you care about her and her needs and that you care about your marriage. And your wife loves to feel cared for.
No More Excuses
So if I’m right about the fact that you almost cannot fail, you have no more excuse not to step up and make a plan. You’ve got time.
Still not sure where to begin? Here are four basic steps to point you in the right direction:
- Keep it secret - The element of surprise adds to the romantic effect
- Make it multi-faceted – your plan should involve more than simply presenting her with a gift. Make it something you can spread out over at least several hours or even all day. It could even be something to be played out over weeks or months in steps.
- Focus on her – one problem men have in planning romantic encounters is that they don’t separate sex and romance the way women do. What I’m saying is that your whole purpose should be to bring HER pleasure in the way SHE desires. Depending on your wife, that may or may not include overtly sexual expressions.
- Show your heart – this can be hard one for many men, who don’t typically major on feelings and expressing them. If you want to really bless your wife, get past your discomfort and pour out your feelings about her.
A Little Inspiration
Still needing a little guidance? Here are some examples of some successful romantic encounters that I have planned out and performed for my wife. I have shared these here in the past, but here are the links for easy reference.
- Romantic Balloon Pop – A dozen surprises hidden inside a dozen balloons - great fun!
- 100 Things I Love About You – This is a great one, and you don’t need to make it 100 if that is too daunting!
- Homemade Spa – A personally designed day of spoiling relaxation. Sure to be a hit!
- Surprise Getaway – Kidnap your wife for a romantic getaway. My wife's description of one of the many times I've done this for her.
- 14-Day Intimacy Challenge - Give your wife two weeks of intimacy – HER way. Do the challenge in the two weeks leading up to February 14th or the 14 days following.See the end of this post for details on how to get the challenge.
Now get out there and PLAN something!
photo credit: dvest / 123rf.com
You can follow the daily links to do the Intimacy Challenge online on this page. Or you can get a convenient pdf of the challenge for free via email when you sign up for my Pathways monthly intimacy newsletter. (Hurry, though, the February edition is coming out in just a few days with lots more romantic ideas!) Sign up on my blog or right here:
Thursday, January 24, 2013
Are you a love skeptic or do you love love?
As we approach that most sacred of love observances, Valentine’s Day, I want to challenge you to discover (or re-discover) love. Regardless of where you come down on the worth of celebrating February 14th, I want to push you to grow in your understanding of love.
Between now and Valentine's Day I plan on posting a number of romantic ideas you can use to make this a special day for you and your spouse. As I start sharing ideas, I figure it is also a great time to talk about love.
After all, Valentine’s Day is often described as the “Day of Love.”
What is Love?
Ask ten people what love is and you will get at least ten different answers that vary all over the place.
Is it an emotion? A giddy, head-over-heels feeling? Is it a commitment? Is it romance? Is it a decision of will, a choice? Is love more about the soul, the body or the spirit? What is the relationship between sex and love?
Who knows? Who decides?
The Bible tells us that God is love. The engineer in me knows that if A=B, then B=A. So can we say that love is also God? The Bible also says we should love like Jesus. What does that mean?
A Love Challenge
What do you think love is? The truth is that what you believe about love greatly affects your marriage. You must decide what love is to you and your marriage relationship. What your spouse thinks about love is also hugely important, especially in how it differs from your own views.
In the next few weeks, as I share my romantic ideas for Valentine’s Day, I’m also going to be doing a number of posts exploring love. I’m orienting these around love as expressed by Jesus, because He is the best picture of love there is. It only makes sense to dig deeply into Jesus if we want to know what true love really is.
And so I'm calling this series “True Love.”
In Ephesians 3 Paul tells us we can never fully know the love of Christ, yet he compels us to make that our lifelong ambition. He compels us to try to intimately know this unknowable love, because it is the key to fullness in God. I believe it is also the key to fullness in marriage.
Though I cannot hope to fully explore every dimension of the love of Christ in a few posts scattered through a few weeks, I want to challenge you to really dig deeply into love as we approach the day of love. Determine to go beyond what you think you know about love during these few weeks.
I’m encouraging you to go after a radical love of love. Press into love like never before. Get excited about becoming more Christ-like in your love expressions. Embrace love in the broadest possible way. Don’t settle for your current level of understanding. Challenge your beliefs. Stretch your long-held perceptions.
There is always more to know about love, because there is always more to know about God. We are going to go for it!
Stand by for my first romantic Valentine's Day idea.
But before I launch this series, I’ll leave it open for you to answer.
What is love?
Leave a comment with your definition, thoughts and ideas. Let’s get this love party started.
Photo credit: sergwsq / 123rf.com
Don't miss my guest post on J's Hot, Holy and Humorous blog:
Ten Lies Wives Believe about Sex (And Ten Truths Your Husband Would Have you Believe Instead)
Monday, January 21, 2013
Grace is an invitation to intimacy!
Today I’m concluding my “Dress for Success” series. We’ve been looking at the “new clothes” we have in our wardrobe that we can choose to “put on” for the benefit of our marriages.
These new clothes are described in Colossians 3. (You can click the links to see the other posts in this series):
Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience … And above all these, put on love.
Between these two verses we find this instruction in verse 13:
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
For the sake of the series, I am calling this putting on grace.
The Power of Grace
Did you know that grace is actually an invitation to intimacy?
God extended grace to us through the death of his Son, Jesus, so that we could have intimacy with him forever. Forgiveness was not the goal. Forgiveness was the path to intimacy with God.
It’s the same in marriage.
When faced with the choice to forgive your spouse or not, remember that unforgiveness means separation and forgiveness means intimacy. It’s really that simple.
Don’t let your desire to be right outweigh your desire to be close to your husband or wife!
Let me remind you of the scripture from the Put on Love post in this series.We are called to love like Jesus. His love was not cautious, but extravagant.
Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.
Ephesians 5:2 (MSG)
Bearing with One Another
I believe this verse goes beyond our need to put on grace in the form of forgiveness when we are wronged. I believe it extends to loving our spouses beyond their weaknesses.
The New Living Translation of Col 3:13 says we are to “make allowance for each other's faults.”
Putting on grace means seeing your spouse through God’s eyes. That’s not easy. We aren’t God. But the truth is that we have been given a new nature in Christ, and that means we can choose to put on grace whenever we want to.
You have faults and weaknesses. Your spouse has faults and weaknesses. How much better would your marriage be if you both chose to focus on each others strengths and assets and disregarded each other’s weaknesses. I’m not talking about tolerating them. I’m talking about looking beyond them, into the very soul of the person you are married to, and seeing them for who they really are.
I’m telling you, the difference would be amazing.
Are you ready to put on grace for the sake of your marriage and to lay aside offense and unforgiveness? Do you have a story of grace in your own marriage? Share it in the comments!
Want to learn more about how to have a grace-full marriage? Check out this series:
Thursday, January 17, 2013
Yeah, we laugh at this funny prayer for patience, but it’s actually pretty close to how we often seek patience, isn’t it?
So often we think of patience as something to fight through, as if it’s trial by fire. Patience is often viewed negatively, but I have another view of patience that is altogether different.
This is part six in my series, “Dress for Success.” (It started back here if you need to catch up.) We are looking at the kinds of things you can choose to “put on” that will bless your marriage. These are the new clothes of the new you – as a new creation in Christ.
You have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with…patience
A whole new take on patience
In our modern, rush-about, instant-everything world, patience is not very highly valued and little pursued. Sure, we try to have patience for things that get in our way or slow our pace. We strive not to be impatient with a spouse who isn’t pulling their weight or giving us what we think we deserve. We wait in queues, straining to see what in the world the hold up in front of us is.
But what if we were to turn our view of patience on its head? What if patience were to be more than passive acquiescence to our circumstances? What if we got a whole new way to look at it? Try this:
Patience: waiting with the hopeful anticipation of and joyful longing for the future.
I realize putting hope and joy together with patience is a little radical. But stick with me.
Patience in Your Marriage
Keep in mind that patience is a fruit of the Spirit and an important Kingdom principle. Patience is available to every believer who would choose to consciously put it on.
In your marriage, when you go through the normal ups and downs of life, you can put on patience with yourself and your spouse. If you eagerly anticipate more of whatever it is you lack in your marriage instead of grumbling to yourself and just waiting it out, you’ll find that times of waiting can actually be joyful.
Enjoy the Preparation Time
My wife is a tea person, so in her honor I’ll go with the tea analogy. (I’m strictly a coffee drinker myself, but I've made enough tea in my life to know the ins and outs.) In order to enjoy an excellent, delicious cup of tea, you have to prepare it properly. Consider two scenarios:
Scenario 1: Boring, Impatient Tea – Dump some tap water into the closest available mug, slap it into the microwave to get it hot, all the while drumming your fingers on the counter top as you watch the timer tick down. At the beep, dunk in a teabag enough to darken the water. Then drink.
Scenario 2: Tea with Joyful Anticipation – Get some good filtered water and fill the tea kettle. Turn on the heat while you look over your selection of fine teas, imagining the taste of each, and select just the right one for your mood or food. Pick a fine china tea cup from your collection, open the tea pouch and take a delicious whiff before setting the bag into the cup. You hear the water begin rolling, but you know a full boil is required for proper tea, so you wait the extra ten seconds for the pot to whistle loudly. Now you are close. You can almost taste it already as you gently pour the boiling water into the cup with the bag. But it’s still not quite time. You have to let it steep until a full rich color emerges in the cup. Almost there. Now add a dash of sugar and a bit of milk, all to your precise liking, and give it a gentle stir. The aroma is rising from the cup now, and you are eager, but you need one more minute to let it cool just a bit (but not too much) to the perfect drinking temperature.
Honestly, whether your drink tea or not, which tea do you think tastes better? Which will be enjoyed more?
It’s not all that different in the seasons of waiting and wanting in your marriage. Think if these as preparation times – times to enjoy the process of growing your marriage into all it can be and zealously anticipating the day of fulfillment.
5 Ways to Let Your Marriage Steep
There are a few things you can do to help turn your seasons of patience from a necessary evil into a hopeful longing and joyful anticipation. Here are a few I came up with:
- Realize that God is FOR your marriage. Not just marriage in general, but your particular marriage. His desire it to see it be all it can be in the realms of intimacy, passion and fulfillment. He is more than able to do it.
- Be thankful for all you do have. Whatever you focus on will grow. Concentrate on the good, downplay the bad. Deliberately shift your focus.
- Be open to change. It might be that even though you are waiting on your husband or wife to change, God may want to work a change in you too (or maybe instead).
- Give yourself generously. Our tendency during times of lack from our spouse is to withdraw and withhold until we get what we want. This tact never works. In fact, it puts your marriage in a downward spiral that I call the Path of Separation. Instead, give yourself unselfishly in the way your spouse desires, without expectation of getting in return.
- Pray and worship. Keep your eyes focused on Jesus instead of the problem at hand. It’s amazing how small difficulties can become in the light of who God is. Enjoy him, enjoy his presence, and hear his heart for you and your marriage. Ask him what he wants of you in this season of waiting. Hearing his voice changes everything.
My list is just a starting point. I’d love to hear your ideas. How do you deal with the seasons in your marriage that require patience? What tips can you give my readers on fostering joyful anticipation?Leave a comment.
Photo credit: lubastock / 123rf.com
Next in the series: Put on Grace
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Monday, January 14, 2013
A heart of compassion says "We can do this together."
These new "clothes" can give a fantastic boost to your marriage if you will only choose to wear them.
Today we are talking about putting on compassion.
What is Compassion?
The word used in Col 3:11 is variably translated into compassion (NKJ, NIV) tenderhearted mercy (NLT), mercies (KJV), and tenderhearted pity and mercy (AMP).
In the Greek, the word is Oiktirmos, which to me is best translated as “a heart of compassion.” I think Webster’s cuts to the chase when it defines compassion as “sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it.” That’s exactly what it means to have a heart of compassion for your spouse:
I don’t know about you, but when I’m distressed I get kind of “prickly,” as my wife calls it. I give curt answers, I get impatient and easily frustrated, and I'm sometime even angry. Different people react differently to stress. Maybe yours is typically fear, sadness, withdrawal, anger or some other negative emotion.
What about your spouse? How does he or she normally act when under stress? And when that happens, how do you typically respond?
Because people’s distress reactions are not very attractive, our response is often either to pull away (in self protection) or to strike back if we feel (often wrongly) that our spouse’s negative emotions are directed toward us.
But we are called to something greater. Rather than wearing reactivity when your spouse is in distress, we are called to put on compassion.
Compassion in Marriage
It’s not always easy to put on compassion. Why is it sometimes harder to be compassionate toward those that are closest to us? It’s often easier to have compassion for friends, acquaintance, or even a total stranger.
I think one reason it is so hard is that we react by wanting to change our spouse’s stress reaction rather than help alleviate their distress. “He shouldn’t be so short with me; I haven’t done anything.” “She shouldn’t be so cold toward me when I’m not the one who spoke harshly her.” “Why does he always shut down when work gets hard?” “There’s no reason for her to cry over something so small.”
Rather than trying to help them deal with the cause of their distress, we want to change them. Clue: it doesn’t work.
Here are some things to do that work much better:
- Learn to recognize your spouse’s natural stress reaction. Chances are it’s often the same kind of behavior in response to a variety of stresses.
- Remember that when they express negative emotions at you, there is usually something else going on. It’s not really about you.
- Put on a “sympathetic consciousness” of your spouse’s distress. The kind of things that distress them may not be distressful to you, but you don’t get to decide on the validity of their distress. To them it is real.
- Draw closer. Yeah, that’s a hard one, especially if their negative emotions are unattractive and even hurtful. Remember that you are still one, and drawing away ultimately hurts you too.
- Express kindness (see my last post for more on that). Kindness changes the atmosphere in your home and marriage.
- Ask what you can do to alleviate their distress. You may not be able to fix it or solve their dilemma, but let them know they are in it with them, that you are on their side and that you want to face it together.
- Most importantly, speak truth. It’s sometimes hard to recall the truths of God when we are under stress. One of God’s great purpose for the marriage partnership is for us to remind each other of God’s promises, his power, his faithfulness in all things, and his unconditional love.
We had some great stories of kindness on my last post. Let’s hear your compassion stories! When has your spouse shown you compassion? How did it change things for you? Leave a comment!
Did you miss any of the previous posts in this series? Here are the links to get you caught up:
photo credit: masta4650 / 123rf.comNext in the series: Put on Patience
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Thursday, January 10, 2013
What is the best kind of kindness?
We’ve been talking about your new wardrobe for 2013. New clothes for the new you!
No, not pants, shirts and skirts. We are talking about the actions and attitudes that God calls us to “put on” in Colossians 3 in light of our new nature in Christ.
It just so happens that it is a great list of things to wear for your marriage!
You have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with…kindnessHow to Put on Kindness
Col 3:9-12 (NIV)
Do me a favor. Think to yourself. What are the first five or so words that come to your mind when you think of kindness? Go ahead, take the ten seconds you need to do this.
Now, think again. (I know I’m asking a lot of you to make you think twice in a single blog post). Think of your daily interactions with your husband or wife. What are the five (or so) words that best describe how you engage with your spouse?
Now compare these two lists of words. Find any similarities?
In case you are stuck (or lazy) here are some dictionary words to consider:
- giving pleasure or relief
What I’m trying to get you to think about is whether kindness is part of the daily routine in your marriage. Is it?
You see, the best kind of kindness is the kind you wear daily.
My challenge to you is to deliberately do something kind every day for your husband or wife. Each day, think of at least one act of kindness (action or spoken) you can do for your spouse. Plan it and do it. If it helps, scan through my dictionary list above or write down your own list. It will help give you ideas.
Hint: I especially like that last idea. Each day, simply think of something that would give your spouse pleasure or relief/help. (PS for men: there is such a thing as pleasure that doesn’t involve sex!)
Here are a few examples of little kindnesses to get you thinking (there I go again with the thinking - strike three).
- Bring them a cup of tea or coffee while they are getting ready for their day.
- Offer a short neck or foot rub while you are watching TV together
- Prepare their favorite meal (even if it isn’t your favorite)
- Stop in and get their favorite treat or snack next time you get gas
- Lend an unprompted hand with a daily chore (dishes, dinner, laundry, yard work, kid’s bath or bedtime).
- Ask before you leave for work, “How can I pray for you today?” (then do it!)
- Pay a specific, honest compliment to one of the physical feature you most admire about them (or their chosen outfit or perfume/cologne).
You may be reluctant to give kindness to your spouse because they don’t typically give it back. To you, let me say that the more kindness you give, the more likely you are to see it in return. It’s a reaping and sewing thing. Withholding kindness will reap more unkindness. But regular acts of kindness will change the atmosphere of your marriage. It is the best way to produce more kindness.
So, are you ready to commit to daily kindness?
Let’s hear it! What is the last kind thing (big or small) that your spouse did for you? What is the last kind thing you did for your spouse? Leave a comment.
photo credit: yeko / 123rf.com
Next in the series: Put on Compassion
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Sunday, January 6, 2013
What does it mean to put on love?
I promised last time that I would continue with a few practical suggestions for how you can "put on love." It is what we are called to do in Col 3:14. In case you missed that post, here’s a reminder:
"The most important piece of clothing you must wear is love. Love is what binds us all together in perfect harmony." (Col 3:14 NLT)
Want harmony in your marriage? Put on love!
Putting on love is not donning fake emotions or trying to wamp it up when you don’t feel it. Putting on love is a decision to give of yourself, generously and frequently, no matter what.
Ten Ways to Dress Yourself with Love
Here is the promised list of tips for putting on love. Before I give the list, though, be aware that your spouse’s love languages play into this greatly (see suggestion one!). What looks like a really nice love outfit to you is likely not the same to your spouse. To wear love well, you have to be a student not only of Jesus and how he loves, but of your husband or wife and what love means to them. This is HUGE!
- Take the five love languages quiz together if you haven’t already. Do something specific this week to meet your spouse’s top need.
- Pursue your husband by wearing something sexy to bed or by initiating sex. Pursue your wife by asking her on a date and making all the arrangement or paying her genuine compliments on her appearance. More pursuit tips on this post.
- Choose to make a sacrifice of your own preference in order to honor your spouse’s preference, like picking a movie they would rather watch or a restaurant they would rather go to. But don't play the martyr!
- Do something to serve your husband or wife. Do a chore of theirs they’ve been meaning to get to for a while. Serve him or her breakfast in bed.
- Put your love down on paper. By this I mean write a love letter (not in an email, but using real paper, written by hand). Do it out of the blue, for no special reason except to convey your love. Husbands without the gift of prose can check this link from The Art of Manliness. Here is a link of suggestions for wives from The Intimate Couple.
- Share the gift of non-sexual touch. Hold hands. Walk arm in arm. Hug. Give a neck or foot massage while you are watching TV. Be generous with your touch.
- Ask an intimate question and be ready to really listen. Husbands, ask “Is there anything I do that makes you feel unloved?” Wives, ask “Is there anything I do that makes you feel disrespected?”
- Give public praise to your spouse. Brag on him or her in front of others. Post a picture of something great they did on Facebook. Tweet your undying devotion.
- Practice listening well. Make eye contact. Be empathetic. Don’t try to fix everything, but be willing to just be a compassionate shoulder.
- Say it!! Regularly tell your spouse how much you love and adore him or her. Say it often. Don’t assume they know. And say specifically why!
Of course this list is only a small starting point. Hopefully it got your own creative juices flowing and you will be able to come up with many more ways to put on love for your spouse.
Help my readers! Leave a comment with your own specific ideas on how you put on love for your husband or wife!
In truth, the rest of this series is also about putting on love in various ways. Kindness, patience, forgiveness, etc. are all expressions of love. So be sure to come back for the rest of the series. Better yet, sign up to get my posts sent directly to your inbox by entering your email address below (will not be shared with anyone, ever).
photo credit: You can buy the print in the picture directly from the artist at this link
Next in the series: Put on Kindness
Thursday, January 3, 2013
Love is not simply an emotion you feel. It’s something you choose to wear.
Best New Year wishes to all my readers!
I’m kicking off the year with a series challenging you to revamp your marriage wardrobe for 2013. If you read my last post, then you know I’m not talking about clothing or fashion.
No, instead I’m talking about the kind of behaviors and attitudes that the Bible challenges us to put on in Colossians 3. “You have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” (Col 3:9-10NIV)
This great scripture passage describes in detail the kind of “wardrobe” that we can put on to help build a successful marriage. Today, we will start where the passage concludes:
The most important piece of clothing you must wear is love. Love is what binds us all together in perfect harmony.
(Col 3:14 NLT)
A New View of Love
Did you ever think of love as something you choose to put on, something you wear on purpose?
I love that image, because it refutes the notion that love is just something you feel or don’t feel, a giddy emotion that might be there one day and gone the next. When you limit love to an emotion, it makes it fickle and fleeting. And if this is love, then it is easy to put the onus of “staying in love” on our partner and their behavior.
When you think of love as something you wear on a daily basis it completely changes the game. It becomes my personal choice.
Learning to Wear Love
How do you put on love? Let me point you to a fabulous piece of advice from scripture. It’s one that I quote often around here:
Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.
Ephesians 5:1-2 (MSG)
Love like that. Yeah, that’s it. Be like Jesus. Extravagant. Selfless. Giving everything for the sake of intimacy with us. He held nothing back. Neither should we.
I’m not kidding about how important getting to know Jesus' love is! The best way to put on love is to put on Jesus. And to do that, you have to know him and be a student of his love. Here's how the Apostle Paul sums it up a few chapters earlier.
I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:17-19 (NIV)
The key to fullness in life is also the key to fullness in marriage. Paul makes it clear in this passage that we cannot fully know the dimensions of Christ’s love. It’s a lifelong pursuit. Don’t assume you get it. You don’t. I don’t. We can't. It’s impossible. There is always way more that can be revealed to our “inner being” by the Holy Spirit.
So if you make only one New Years resolution for your marriage this year, make it this: to go hard after knowing the love of Christ. Then, whatever you learn, be determined to wear it every day.
I hear the protests, “Okay, that's great, but what do I actually DO?” So, if you must have a punch list, a starting point for your love outfit, I’ll get to that next time. Until then think really hard about what you are going to do this year to pursue the knowledge the love of Christ.
Meanwhile, what do you think it means to “put on love?” Leave a comment and let us know!
Next in the series: Put on Love Part 2
PS Did you know I have a monthly email newsletter on intimacy called "Pathways?"
To preview my latest issue, which focuses on sexual intimacy, click HERE
To subscribe (and get my free Intimacy Challenge ebook), click HERE
photo credit: stock photo / 123rf.com
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