Heaven Made Marriage

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From Your Current Location to an Intimate Destination

Your journey into deeper intimacy starts with figuring out where you are.

GPS Intimacy

Do you remember the days of MapQuest and folded paper maps? I’m glad those days are behind us! Today we all have a GPS in our pockets, purses and cars, giving us immediate and accurate navigation with just a few clicks. A GPS is a fabulous navigational tool.

Wouldn’t it be great if we had the same kind of tool for our marriage relationship? Enter the destination “Deeper Intimacy” and click the “find route” button and the app would list out step by step instructions for steering your relationship to this destination.

Chart Your Course

The intimacy in your marriage is on one of two paths: The Path of Intimacy or the Path of Separation. There is no middle ground between the two where you simply manage your degree of separation. Intimacy is organic and alive, and it simply doesn’t work that way.

You probably know whether you and your spouse are currently on a path that has you growing together or on one that has you growing apart. Either way, chances are good that you both wish you had more intimacy in your marriage. All the research I’ve done and polls I’ve conducted in the past seven years point to the fact that intimacy is the one thing that everyone longs to have more of in their marriage.

Unfortunately, the “Route to Intimacy” app doesn’t exist, but I have created an online tool that will at least help you assess your “current location” as it pertains to the level of intimacy in your marriage. I’ve developed the Intimacy Assessment to help couples take an honest look at how well connected they are in several key dimensions of intimacy: emotional, physical, spiritual, and financial. There are separate assessments for husbands and wives, each with 25 multiple-choice questions. After submitting your answers, you will receive detailed scores in each area of intimacy as well as a total score and summary assessment. You will also get a copy of your results by email.

To get started on your journey into deeper intimacy, I encourage you (and your spouse) to take the Intimacy Assessment by clicking on the appropriate button below.

H-Assessment Button

W-Assessment Button

 

 

 

A Guide Book

I developed the Intimacy Assessment as part of the launch of my new Kindle book, The Path of Intimacy, which will be released in just a few weeks. I wrote this book to help guide couples as they seek to build deeper, long-lasting intimacy. I’m very excited about this book and the help it will be to so many marriages!

The Path of Intimacy is the first book in my Igniting Intimacy series, which I’ll be releasing throughout 2018. I can hardly wait to share all these new resources, which I hope and pray will strengthen your bond with your spouse and inspire you to reach the destination you’ve always dreamed of. for your marriage.

Stay tuned next week for more details!

 

The One Thing Your Marriage Needs Most This Year

Here’s to a happy, intimate 2018!

I regularly run surveys among my readers to keep my finger on the collective pulse of the couples who follow my blog. The survey I am currently running  asks the question, “What do you want more of in your marriage right now?” (You can take it now if you’d like to have your answers included in the results.)

I’ve asked a similar question in a number of surveys over the years, and the answer always comes back the same: couples want more intimacy most of all.

What Couples Want

In the latest survey results, when asked to give the top 3 things they want more of in their marriage, 9 out of 10 respondents indicated a desire for more emotional, physical or spiritual intimacy. Over half placed one of these as their number one need, and almost half picked more than one form of intimacy as a top three need. I’m probably safe in guessing that intimacy comes in high on your list of marital desires as well.

A surprising finding from the survey is that men and women don’t differ in their desires as much as you might think. In fact, the top three needs of men and women were exactly the same and in the same order. Men and women both picked sexual intimacy as the number one need in their marriage (though not in the same percentages), and both picked spiritual and emotional intimacy as their number 2 and 3 needs, respectively. Chances are you and your spouse are longing for the same things.

So if seemingly everyone desires more intimacy, why are so many couples struggling to find it?

In Search of True Intimacy

People define intimacy in many different ways. Some say it’s a feeling of closeness and connection. Others say it’s about sex or romance or both. The Bible has a slightly different take on intimacy:

Therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

Genesis 2:24-25

Here, at the very creation of marriage, God defines what it means to be one flesh. It means living naked and unashamed. That’s what I describe as being fully known and being totally loved. This is intimacy at its core.

In my post, Keeping Your Marriage Strong for the Long Haul, I summarized the quest for intimacy this way:

Intimacy is the antidote for the roommate syndrome that wrecks so many marriages. Intimacy reaches its zenith when we are fully known (weaknesses, warts and all) and completely, unconditionally loved. Intimacy is the main goal of every marriage (in all forms: emotional, spiritual, sexual, financial, etc.), and God built us with an innate desire for intimacy; intimacy with Him and intimacy with our spouse. I also believe God designed us with a huge capacity for intimacy and that we can continue to grow closer together regardless of how long we’ve been married.

Not One Thing But Many Things

Make it a goal to journey more deeply into intimacy with your spouse in the year ahead. As you do, keep in mind that true intimacy involves the entirety of your being. It isn’t just about improving your sex life, or getting more regular about going on dates, or spending more one-on-one time talking and really listening, or learning to pray together.

It’s about all of it. Everything.

Don’t be overwhelmed by that thought. What it really means is that there are lots of ways to build intimacy. Pick an area and start making small changes toward more fully knowing each other by being more transparent and showing your heart to your spouse. As you both open up to each other more, respond with unconditional love and grace.

You are probably thinking, “Easier said than done.” True. But as you start with small steps, you’ll begin to see the fruit of every effort you make in the direction of a deeper, more intimate connection.

Praying that you and your spouse have a happy, intimate 2018!

 

What Are You Hoping for Your Marriage in 2018?

Dare to dream big things for your marriage in the coming year!

The threshold of a new year is the time when many of us reflect on the previous year and set our plans and hopes for the next year.

Ideally, some of your hopes for 2018 concern your marriage. In truth, every year is an opportunity for more in your marriage. More intimacy. More passion. More freedom. More love. More generosity. More kindness. More grace. The “more” available to your marriage is limitless.

Dare to Dream Big

I want to encourage you to dream big things for your marriage in 2018. Whether 2017 was a year of disappointment and struggle or of flourishing for your relationship, look to the year ahead with the expectation that God will do good things in you and in your marriage. I honestly believe that God’s heart is that next year be the best year yet for your marriage. 

In the coming days, I am looking forward to dreaming with my wife for our year ahead. I encourage you to find a time in the last few days of this year or the first few of next year where you and your spouse can spend some time thinking and dreaming together. Seek the Lord in prayer and tap into His dreams for you. Imagine writing your marriage story for 2018 a year from now. What story would you want to write?

Have a Conversation

If you aren’t in the habit of dreaming together with your spouse, this would be a good time to start. Talk about your wishes. Talk about your needs. Talk about your hopes. Any time you talk about improving your marriage, it is important to do so without accusation or defensiveness. As I wrote in a post on expectations in marriage:

It’s essential for each of you to take the responsibility to express your needs without demanding or demeaning. When you talk about your needs, it’s really important to explain to your spouse what that would look like to you. That kind of “what would it look like” conversation is great for identifying and exposing your expectations.

Dare to ask, “How can I best meet your expectations in this area?” Voice your needs and desires clearly in a way that best helps your spouse to love you well, but then have plenty of grace for when they get it wrong, because one of your expectations should be that they will, in fact, get it wrong sometimes.

Patience = Joyful Anticipation

We often think of patience in a negative light. But for us, as people of faith, it should not be so. Patience is not merely a reluctant acquiescence to our circumstances.

For us, faith means that as we wait for the longings of our hearts to come true, we can look ahead with joyful anticipation of God doing great things on our behalf. That includes God doing great things in your marriage. If you find that you have given up hope for attaining the marriage you dream of, it’s time to renew your hope.

As we turn the calendar page and face a new year, let me suggest a few thoughts to keep in mind.

  1. Realize that God is FOR your marriage. Not just marriage in general, but your marriage. His desire is to see it be all it can be in the realms of intimacy, passion, and fulfillment. And He is more than able to do it.
  2. Be thankful for all you do have. Whatever you focus on will grow. Concentrate on the good, downplay the bad. Deliberately shift your focus.
  3. Be open to change. It might be that even though you are waiting for your husband or wife to change, God may want to work a change in you too (or maybe instead).
  4. Give yourself generously. Our tendency during times of lack from our spouse is to withdraw and withhold until we get what we want. This tactic 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.
  5. 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.

I’ll leave you with my prayer for you and your marriage as you dream big dreams for the year ahead:

Now may God, the inspiration and fountain of hope, fill you to overflowing with uncontainable joy and perfect peace as you trust in him. And may the power of the Holy Spirit continually surround your life with his super-abundance until you radiate with hope!

Romans 15:13 (TPT)

 

Stepping Into the Divide

At Christmas, we remember how Jesus came to Earth, stepping into the divide between us and God.

step into the divide

We all have those times when there seems to be a disconnect in our marriage. Even in the best marriages, a divide can grow between husband and wife. Whether it’s from disagreements, stress, fear or misunderstanding, when it happens we face a choice.

One is easy. One is harder. Doing the hard thing is the only way to close the gap between you.

Shouting Across the Divide

The easy choice is for you both to stand your ground, remain focused on yourselves, and shout across the divide toward each other. It may not be literal shouting – my wife and I don’t shout at each other – but it might as well be.

Shouting (or talking) across the divide happens when you make little or no effort to understand your spouse’s position and feelings. A cycle of blaming and defending develops to the point where neither of you can hear the other. You hear the words, but as you do, your thoughts are already building your defense against them. Rather than listening and empathizing to gain understanding, you are listening in order to prove yourself right, to get what you think you deserve, or to assert your rights.

When you shout across the divide nothing changes. In fact, the separation only tends to deepen.

Stepping Into the Gap

The harder choice, and the only way for you to reconnect with each other, is for one of you to step into the gap.

Choosing to step into the gap between you requires self-sacrifice. It requires you to lay down your agenda and your need to be right. It requires that you listen with empathy in a genuine attempt to gain an understanding of the other’s perspective and feelings. It means you stop defending and blaming.

Stepping into the gap is making a deliberate choice to care more about maintaining your connection than about whether or not your spouse behaves the way you want him or her to.

Stepping into the gap can come in the form of gentle, non-sexual physical touch such as an embrace or holding hands, even when it seems that’s the last thing your partner deserves and the last thing you desire.

In many situations where disconnection occurs, one or both parties don’t feel understood but long to be. Because intimacy is about being fully known and yet completely loved, when either of you doesn’t feel heard, it blocks intimacy. Likewise, when either of you feels rejected or judged in the midst of the conflict, it inhibits your ability to be transparent, further preventing true connection.

Someone Has to Go First

When you are stuck shouting toward each other across the divide, or when it has devolved into stony silence, someone has to be first to step into the gap.

At Christmas, it was Jesus who went first. He chose to step out of the perfection of heaven and humbly enter into our existence. His whole mission was to bridge the gap between God and the people he loves and longs to connect in an intimate way.

The next time you and your spouse suffer a disconnect, don’t get stuck talking at each other across the divide. Remember what Christ did for us on that cold Christmas night so long ago. Go first. Step toward your spouse. Make understanding and connection the priority instead of being right. Then watch the miracle of intimacy unfold.

Romantic Christmas Countdown

Here is a fun way to say “I love you” ten times over this Christmas!

Romantic Countdown

Are you still stuck for an idea of what to give your spouse for Christmas? Or maybe you’ve already bought a gift (or gifts) but you are looking for an extra special way to bless him or her this year.

This romantic countdown is a great way to surprise your spouse every day for 10 days leading up to Christmas.

The Christmas Countdown

As with any romantic idea, you need to adapt it to your spouse’s particular favorite things. Times like this are why I say it is important to be a lifelong student of your spouse and what delights him or her most.

The idea of the Christmas countdown is simple. Pick a number of days until Christmas. If you get on the ball in the next day or tow you can do ten days, as in my example below.  Seven would work too. If you are a traditionalist, you might do the twelve days of Christmas, which technically come after Christmas and would be a great way to extend the holiday festivities.

Here is how it works.  For each day, give him or her a gift representing the number of days remaining until (or following after) Christmas. As an example, here’s the list I did for Jenni a few years ago:

    • 10 – ten pretty fingers (gift card for a manicure) or toes (pedicure)
    • 9 – nine tasty treats (Cella chocolate covered cherries-her favorite)
    • 8 – four pairs of Christmas-themed earrings (she loves these things)
    • 7 – Christmas-themed arrangement of seven red roses
    • 6 – Six string serenade (she picked songs I sang for her)
    • 5 – five-minute kiss
    • 4 – four pairs of pretty panties
    • 3 – a set of three Woodwick candles
    • 2 – a side-by-side framed picture (us on one side and our daughters on the other)
    • 1 – Christmas lingerie (OK this gift was more for me)

The gifts don’t have to be large or expensive. It really is the thought that counts in this particular romantic endeavor! Get creative!

A low budget version would be a set of lists of things you love about your spouse.  Day 10: Ten things I love about our marriage.  Day 9: Nine things I love about your body.  Day 8: Eight things I love about how you parent.  Etc. Etc.

An Added Twist

Part of the fun is deciding a fun way to surprise them with the gift each day. I had a small wooden box with a lock on it. Each day the key would appear in an unexpected way. Jenni would unlock the box to find a note that gave a clue as to where to find the day’s present.

I’m no poet, but I wrote a tacky little poem for each day.  It was fun! For example day eight, the four pairs of earrings, which were placed in some teacups she has on display:

Christmas earrings

What numbers eight, yet comes in twos?
Perhaps I’ll give a few more clues

It is something festive for the season
Given for the best of reasons

‘Tis love that causes me to give
Four gifts that hide where teacups live

If you have no gift for rhyme, do something else that works better for you. Send a text message or email with the clue for the day. Maybe get other family members involved. Leave a note taped to their bathroom mirror. Give the gift first thing each morning or last thing each night. Have fun with it!

If you decide to try the Countdown to Christmas, stop back by and let us know how it worked out and to share your ideas!


Heads-up!!

Do you have trouble coming up with romantic and special ways to bless your spouse but wish you could? Be on the lookout for a new subscription service I’ll be offering soon, called Romance 101. It’s a monthly email service with great step-by-step date night ideas and romantic surprises that are sure to bless your wife or husband and your marriage. Click below to get on the list to get the details when this new feature is available, plus receive a special introductory discount.

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